The George in Rye: Oh I do like to be beside the seaside



Potter along the cobbled high street of Rye, one of the UK’s prettiest coastal towns, and you may at first fail to notice the discreet exterior that is The George. Once inside, it’s a different matter.

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The East Sussex coaching inn may date back to the 16th century, but the interiors – particularly the bedrooms – are a veritable showcase for contemporary British design. Putting the chic into boutique, co-owner Katie Clarke and her design partner Maria Speake (of Retrouvious, a renowned architectural design company) have given each of the 34 rooms and suites a different signature look.

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From a seaside room to one inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement (complete with William Morris wallpaper and Edwardian cloth-bound books), the effect is light-hearted and supremely stylish rather than ‘over-done’ as many themed hotels can be. Clarke’s background as set designer comes to the fore in these imaginative schemes, which make the most of the building’s history as well as offering an interesting place to stay. There’s also a nod to local history with two rooms inspired by EF Benson’s Mapp & Lucia stories (Rye was the template for the writer’s imaginary town of Tilling).

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Our Room 41 – one of ten new rooms located across a courtyard – was one of the more extravagant. A white and lime green palette, complete with palm tree motifs, a skylight and a round bed, may be a bit ‘Boogie Nights’ for some, but the huge downstairs bathroom, with its gorgeous nickel double roll-top bath, added a certain British romance to the overall va va voom.

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While it’s tempting to waft around in your room for hours, there’s much to be explored – not least the charm and history of Rye itself. First recharge at the characterful George Grill – a cocooning restaurant offering locally-caught fish and British classics, such as Ham Hock and Salt Marsh lamb rump.

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Here, again, there’s much to entertain the eye: a buzzy open kitchen with Josper grill, a reclaimed school gym floor with original court markings intact, and an impressive mosaic fish sculpture originally commissioned for Barclays Bank in the 1950s. It’s not to be missed.

I loved the impeccable fusing of The George’s characterful history with the best of modern-day facilities: think Vi-Spring beds, Frette linens, Ren toiletries and bike hire. The Shop Next Door is also another gem – a unique retail space offering a sharply edited collection of homewares curated by Katie Clarke.

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The first floor Ball Room, built in 1818 as an assembly room, is also a highlight, making this a charming base to stay by the sea, with top-notch food, at surprisingly affordable prices.

Book it:

Rooms at The George in Rye start from £125 per night staying in a Queen Room inclusive of breakfast.  For more information or to make a booking call The George in Rye on 01797 222114 or visit

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