Perhaps it was the reproduction postcards showing the sand dunes and the vast stretch of beach a century ago.
Maybe it was our visit en route to Rye - the quintessentially English setting for EF Benson’s delicious 1920s Mapp and Lucia series of novels.
There again, it might just have been the sheer tranquillity of the hotel itself - with its soothing pastel decoration and its perfectly honed sense of the casual.
A stay at The Gallivant overlooking the Camber Sands felt timeless. A throwback to a more relaxed age.
I hadn’t read a good, thick novel since the summer – but the sound and salty odour of the sea encouraged me to delve into CJ Sansom’s Dissolution which sat on the bedroom bookshelf. It was a glorious discovery – a Tudor murder mystery set a stone’s throw from the hotel.
This hotel is different in so many ways from other great establishments.
It has rightly become fashionable for restaurants to source great produce as locally as possible.
Slashing ‘food miles’ is not just good for the environment. It’s great for the neighbouring economy as well as ensuring the freshest food is plated up for guests.
But The Gallivant at Camber Sands has taken the concept to a challenging extreme.
It claims that some 95 per cent of all fresh ingredients are sourced or foraged from within ten miles of the restaurant.
You can tell the difference, the moment you taste your first dish.
This is superb cuisine.
It’s not just the ingredients themselves which set new benchmarks.
The whole ethos of The Gallivant – which brands itself a coastal restaurant with rooms – is about revolutionizing traditional concepts of service.
Guests are not asked to pay any service charge.
The menu price is all you pay – which means there are no hidden extras.
Instead, they pay all their staff a minimum of £9/hour with a bonus and profit share scheme also available.
The location is blissful. It’s just a couple of minutes walk to the grass fringed dunes of one of Britain’s finest sandy beaches.
Many of the 20 bedrooms have private garden areas – and the decor combines coastal pedigree with a neat mix of quality and relaxation.
There is nothing stuffy here. Nor pretentious.
A string of independent accolades give testimony to the success of the enterprise.
But the real proof, as the saying goes, is in the pudding.
The great food and the sense of escape made this the perfect break.
New Lydd Road
Camber, East Sussex TN31 7RB
Readers are invited to the restaurant to enjoy the set Lunch offer which is available Monday-Thursday, 2 courses £15, 3 courses £18. When you mention this newspaper, you will also be offered a complimentary glass of Chapel Down Brut when ordering a three-course meal from the A La Carte Menu, Monday-Friday. Prices correct as of June 1, 2017. Chapel Down offer available until July 15, 2017.
This newspaper was invited to The Gallivant as part of a press familiarization visit. Although the manager knew we were attending our review and comments are entirely independent and our own. They are not linked to any advertisement arrangement.