The very definition of ‘seaside bed and breakfast’ has been shaken to its core. While many B&Bs have rebranded themselves ‘guesthouses’ – removing the slap-up breakfasts as they descend into miniature Travelodge banality – one boutique accommodation in Sussex is doing things its own way.


What’s it all about?

The Old Rectory – and its sister lodging Swan House – is consistently seen as the crème of a number of small hotels freckled around the historic pebble-fringed town of Hastings in East Sussex.

Eight individually-designed bedrooms, each with enough distressed furniture and shabby chic to blow up Pinterest, nestle into corners of a creaking 18th century home that once belonged to the clergy.


A log fire has prominence in the drawing room, where cushy sofas welcome newly-arrived guests and an honesty whisky and gin bar illustrates the relaxed nature the managers have with their visitors.

In the anteroom, a chair made of antlers prides itself on being a talking point; it is one of many couture or antique pieces positioned perfectly among a backdrop of whites, pastels and French Grey.


This is no ordinary bed and breakfast and how could it be? It was the brainchild of ex-fashion designer Lionel Copley and his associate Brendan McDonagh – two Londoners who’d left frenetic city lives for a somewhat different pace.

Rooms and feel

Luke, the general manager, greeted us with exuberant warmth before showing us into the Croft Room – a double room on the top floor decorated in a subtle dark vanilla and with the elegance of a traditional country house bedroom.


Having arrived at 10pm, we weren’t lucky enough to get a sun-soaked glimpse of the picturesque patio garden until the morning.

Upon opening our eyes the next day, however, we whipped apart the curtains and were treated to a flawless view of the pond-adorned garden and the neighbouring All Saints Church whose tower overlooks it.


Aside from the extent of the sumptuousness presented before us, I was also struck by the effort The Old Rectory’s owners had placed into the small touches.

Fresh milk is available in quirky mini fridges on each floor, to pour into coffees made using your own cafetiere; and there’s no portion control on bathroom toiletries when the body wash has been funnelled into glass decanters.



The kitchen

After an evening on the tiles in Hastings’ eccentric Old Town – where the B&B is situated – the two-course gourmet breakfast was much needed.

Almost every part of the breakfast menu was either homemade or sourced within a mile. The home-cured bacon wasn’t even the most impressive part – the in-house baked beans were a complete surprise.


‘We’re very proud of our breakfast,’ manager Luke told me with a smile, before excitedly revealing that they’re in the process of buying their own smoker to have the freshest haddock and salmon options in-house.

Summer by the sea

At three-years-old The Old Rectory is still enjoying finding its feet – but don’t expect any actual waddling youngsters decimating the yacht-varnished floorboards because under 10s are a no-no.


Careful and meticulous planning has gone into every part of this establishment and it shows. From the duck feather duvets and hand-painted dining room walls to the fresh-off-the-line seafood picked up from the fisherman’s village around the corner.

The best time to visit is during summer when Hastings comes alive with carnivals, fairground rides and beach concerts.

Being beside the seaside has never been more plush.

The Old Rectory, Harold Road, Hastings, TN35 5ND. Book rooms here:

All pictures apart from the anteroom and garden by Natasha Culzac. Others courtesy of The Old Rectory.