Anyone for tennis? Head to Eastbourne

Take a break on the south coast. You might spot a sports star while you're there, says Kate Simon

While football fans try to hear themselves above the vuvuzelas as the 2010 World Cup kicks off in South Africa this weekend, silence will descend on a more sedate tournament taking place back home in Eastbourne – the Aegon International tennis championships.

John Isner and Sam Querrey, Caroline Wozniacki and Elena Dementieva (inset, right) head the list of competitors attending this year's warm-up for Wimbledon. The World Tour competition, which began in 1974, featured only women's tennis until last year, when financial constraints forced the Lawn Tennis Association to merge the championships with the men's precursor to Wimbledon, the Nottingham Open.

That means more great tennis for fans to enjoy in Eastbourne's Devonshire Park. It also means more stars of the grass court to spot at the seaside resort's premier stopover, The Grand Hotel.

But then, this vast white Victorian confection, which takes up a whole block at the west end of King Edward's Parade, is no stranger to famous faces. Claude Debussy (said to have been inspired by the sea views to finish "La Mer" while staying here in 1905) and Winston Churchill, Celine Dion and Eddie Izzard reveal the hotel's enduring popularity over the past 135 years. This may be the kind of place that demands you need to pack a jacket and tie for dinner, but the polished quality of the lodgings and the gracious service manage to be both timeless and with the times.



The rooms

The Grand Hotel has resisted the temptation to trash tradition with a modernist makeover. Under the present owner, Elite Hotels, it continues to glory in embellishing its antique furnishings and plush upholstery with swags and ruches, though the style is restrained, never chintzy. There are seven categories of bedroom, from deluxe to the penthouse suite, increasing in size as you ascend the tariff. But you don't have to pay through the nose to secure a sea view, so choose carefully. All rooms have satellite TV (there are DVD players in the master suites), broadband internet access, and Molton Brown toiletries in the bathroom.



The food and drink

The hotel has two restaurants. The Garden Room is the main dining room, seating 180 and serving a wide selection of fancy – if traditional – English fare, from breakfast through to dinner daily. Mirabelle, the 50-seat gourmet option, open for lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Saturday, raises the bar, putting similarly fresh produce to more creative use under head chef Gordon Röser, with recommendations including high praise from The Good Food Guide and two red AA rosettes. Dinners start at £37 per head without wine, at both restaurants, with tasting menus in Mirabelle from £54. Afternoon tea is served daily in the Great Hall. For a historic take on this English tradition, book for afternoon tea with the Palm Court Strings (next performing on 29 August), which takes place on the spot where the BBC Palm Court Orchestra used to broadcast from every Sunday night in the 1930s.



The extras

Check out the Health Club, which includes indoor and outdoor pools, gym, spa and children's playroom. Head east to explore the fleshpots of Eastbourne and its pier; head west for a walk along the white cliffs at Beachy Head and Seven Sisters. For tickets to the tennis tournament, visit lta.org.uk. Get further information about the area and current events at visiteastbourne.com.



The access

Children are welcome, paying just £10 if they share their parents' room, including breakfast, with age-appropriate services offered to suit babies, kids and teenagers, from board games and laptop access to milk and biscuits at bedtime. The ground floor is accessible for wheelchair users and there is lift access to the floors above. There is a specially modified room for people with disabilities and facilities for those with impaired hearing.



The bill

During June, book a night's B&B at £195 and dine in the hotel to get a second room free.



The address

The Grand Hotel, King Edward's Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN21 4EQ (01323 412233; grandeastbourne.com).

News
An iceberg in Ilulissat, Greenland; researchers have been studying the phenomena of the melting glaciers and their long-term ramifications for the rest of the world (Getty)
news
Environment
environment
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Jackman bears his claws and loses the plot in X-Men movie 'The Wolverine'
film
Arts and Entertainment
'Knowledge is power': Angelina Jolie has written about her preventive surgery
film
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
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

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing