Hotel Review: The Relais Cooden Beach, East Sussex 

A balance of coastal calm meets travel-inspired details, newly-revamped The Relais Cooden Beach in East Sussex is fun, laidback and full of luxuriously inviting decor. Editor Sophie Ritchie shares more…

Let’s be honest, Eastbourne and the surrounding area isn’t exactly known for its style or youthful nature. At least, not since the Victorian times. But there’s a new kid on the block (or the corner, to be exact) just a couple of miles away in Bexhill-on-Sea. Fun, laidback and full of luxuriously inviting decor, next time you feel the coastline calling, it’s time to book a weekend at The Relais Cooden Beach in East Sussex. 

A balance of coastal calm meets travel-inspired details, this newly-redesigned property is a 45-room hideaway that can provide just as worthy a base for the sun-soaked days as it can for the times when Mother Nature decides to roar.  

Helmed by a well-heeled and friendly team, the staff will have you settled in no time – whether that’s sat outside on the patio with a small bowl of wine or curled up inside by the sleek circular fireplace in the spacious lounge, leaving the elements to battle it out between themselves outside. 

The Food & Drink

Regardless of the space in which you choose to recline, The Relais Cooden Beach’s new look can be enjoyed throughout – whether that’s the open reception area with its high back rattan chairs or The Rally Bar & Grill with swish seating, striped walls and a menu absolutely brimming with local Sussex produce from dusk until dawn. Treat yourself to a glass of sparkling wine (or three) from local vineyard, Rathfinny Estate – whose award-winning wine should be as mandatory as a good night’s sleep when staying here. 

Post-slumber, indulge with a breakfast buffet brimming with continental options – then order from a tasty selection of a la carte options, which include everything from healthy porridge bowls and avocado toast to a classic cooked breakfast.

The Room

My top floor Cooden King (one of nine available room categories) is large and spacious, filled with a vast bed that takes up space like a performing artist with serious stage presence. Walls are intended to be splashed in shades of Persimmon – but they remind me more of salmon pink, with colour schemes that evoke memories of previous visits to Biarritz and Saint Jean-de-Luz. Which isn’t that surprising, as hotel owner-operator Grace Leo tells me later that the property draws inspiration from France’s coastline, along with New England. 

With interiors dreamt up by Paris-based designer, Pascal Allaman, horizontal patterned carpet covers the floor with contrasting shades of beige and rouge, whilst the furniture itself is far more simple – pristine white flowers sit upon a table whilst a floral-patterned stool is perfectly-positioned for flouncing upon when getting ready in the morning.

Ideal for switching off, it’s clean, uncluttered and calm. Light filters silkily through the windows as the nearby world outside meanders around the adjacent road, with cars, bikes and pedestrians going about their days. At first I wonder (in mild horror) where the tea and coffee making facilities are – but you’ll find your caffeine fix neatly tucked away, hidden in a draw to prevent further clutter.

Touches of contemporary design inject a dose of 2022 into the abode. Modern light fixtures and ample plug sockets add to the space, whilst the bathroom is minimalistic meets luxurious – featuring full-size Aromatherapy Associates toiletries, a powerful rain shower and monochrome fittings. The bathroom floor is a scattered stone spread of colour – tiny pink, grey, navy splotches – the same tones that can found in the adjoining bedroom. 

Take Three: Things to Try

  • Walk here: Nearby natural beauty spot Seven Sisters in Eastbourne can be easily reached via transfer or bus and is ideal for an afternoon of strolling. Grab a coffee from the National Trust café and take on the hills – the views are worth every steep step. 
  • Run here: Fire up your Fitbit and head out for a jog by the beach. The pebbled terrain might not be for the faint-hearted, but the hotel’s delicious breakfast buffet and a la carte options await you afterwards.
  • Pamper here: Adding to the hotel’s wellness offering, an additional four treatment rooms will be complete by spring 2023, providing spa experiences inspired by the restoring nature of the sea.  

The Wordrobe Verdict

A balance of coastal calm meets travel-inspired details, newly-revamped The Relais Cooden Beach in East Sussex is fun, laidback and full of luxuriously inviting decor. If you can’t be queen of the sand castle, opt for the next best thing with a visit to this weekend hideaway.

Make it happen
Where: Cooden Sea Rd, Bexhill, Bexhill-on-Sea TN39 4TT
How: Tickets from London Victoria to Cooden Beach are available from Southern Rail from as little as £5.50. Families can also benefit from £2 tickets for children under 16. Find out more at
Wallet: Rooms at The Relais Cooden Beach start from £194.00 for a Cooden Double room, including bed and breakfast. Find out more and make a booking via

Words by Sophie Ritchie, editor

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