B & B and Beyond: The Printworks, Hastings

The Victorian offices of a south-coast newspaper now house a stylish and spacious B&B

Did you know, a little piece of England's south coast once flew the Stars and Stripes? In 1822, a shingle bank (now found just behind Hastings' seafront) free of the burden of taxes and rents was named America Ground and claimed as the 24th US state until it was seized on behalf of George IV five years later. Today, it is a quaint quarter of the town, with an attractive late-19th-century Gothic church (holytrinity church.hastings.org) at its heart. It's also the location of the former offices of the Hastings and St Leonard's Observer, a Victorian redbrick building. Its façade is decorated with scenes from the printers' trade and an ornate loggia set just below the eaves. Now the presses have ceased, it's the home of a quirky multi-purpose space, which, ascending the storeys, hosts the homeware shop Dyke and Dean (01424 429202; dykeanddean.com), an events area, artists' studios and, on the top level, a B&B.

The bed

The building was stripped back, so far as the Grade II listing would allow, to reveal the wooden floors and central staircase and expose original brick and plaster work here and there, giving a sense of the vast spaces within. So far, two rooms at the top of the building have been set aside for guests. (The owners hope to expand to four.) Appropriately named after the giants of printing, there's Gutenberg, a small double in the attic with a separate bathroom and toilet along the landing, and Caxton, a more spacious room with large ensuite bathroom. Both have large comfy beds dressed in white linen and most of the furniture and ornaments, dating from the 1950s to the 1970s, have been personally collected and artfully positioned. Free Wi-Fi, tea and fresh coffee-making facilities, toiletries and flat-screen Freeview TV are provided in the bedrooms.

Guests can use the dining room on the floor below, a huge open-plan space with vaulted- and part-glass ceilings that is big enough to hold a sitting area, dining table and kitchen. Among the unusual furnishings in here are two huge banks of drawers that once lived at Central TV, a home for the costumes for Crossroads.

The breakfast

Breakfast is a generous selection of locally sourced food, presented on vintage crockery at a communal table in the dining room. Berry yoghurt, served in a dainty teacup, refreshed my palate as I surveyed the hearty spread of breads, jars of home-made preserves and a bowl filled up with fresh fruit. There were bottles of juice and freshly brewed pots of tea and coffee, a strawberry and blueberry smoothie (sprinkled with tchai seeds if you fancy) whizzed up to order. Hot dishes – ordered the night before – up to and including a full English (two lightly poached eggs on toast for me) are also available.

The hosts

Lorna Lloyd, a ceramicist and photographer and her partner Bryan Dyke, a film editor, bought the former printworks in 2009. Lorna's touches are evident everywhere in the eclectic choice of furnishings and art, especially her own ceramic creations and photographic prints.

The weekend

Hastings and its neighbour St Leonards have long been wooing the arty crowd with the promise of bohemian regeneration amid melancholy seaside decline. Since my last visit a few years ago, progress seems to have been slow but sure, particularly in St Leonards' hub of art and antiques, Norman Road. This is now spreading into the adjacent streets, with The St Leonards (thestleonard.co.uk), a new pub on the London Road, the place to review purchases over a glass of sauvignon. Check out the retro Post Office Tearooms (01424 718985; potearooms.wix.com/info; open Weds to Sun 10.30am-4pm) in the 1930s Marine Court. If you're in town on a Thursday, pack your needles for the weekly knitting night (6.30pm-8pm; admission £3.50).

Hastings has a thriving modern shopping centre, but head to the seafront – where there's a lot of smartening up still to do – and go east to George Street, a lane of independent boutiques that will delay your journey to the Stade, the home of the tall black huts that house Hastings' fishing community. The Stade is also where you'll find the town's biggest cultural draw, the Jerwood Gallery (01424 728377; jerwoodgallery.org; £7), a collection of 20th- and 21st-century art that opened (to much debate) next to the fishermen's huts in 2012. It reopens on 2 February with a new exhibition titled Knock Knock: Seven Artists in Hastings. When you've had enough of shops and galleries, take the East Hill lift up the cliff and stride out in the Country Park. For more ideas, go to visit1066country.com.

The pit stop

Webbe's Rock-a-Nore (01424 721650; webbesrestaurants.co.uk) in the old town takes advantage of its location across the road from the town's fishing fleet to offer the freshest landings from Hastings' shores. The menu will excite seafood fans, with inspired nibbles such as a glass of rosé prosecco with three oysters (£8.50), and a selection of tasting plates that includes skate cheeks with sauce gribiche (£3.50 per dish, five for £16). Top choice is the shellfish platter, a pile of oysters, whelks, winkles, prawns and crabs, served on a bed of ice, which is available for one at a very competitive £12. The styling of the dining space is disappointing, seemingly borrowing its inspiration from Furniture Village, but the bustling restaurant is no less popular for it.

The essentials

The Printworks, 14 Claremont, America Ground, Hastings, East Sussex TN34 1HA (01424 425532; theprintworkshastings.com). B&B doubles from £80.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Day In a Page

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...