St Leonards has been undergoing a renaissance, but thankfully not enough to obliterate authenticity - it has a thriving fishing fleet and you can still indulge in some seaside tack. Yet groovy cafes and bars, as well as top-notch restaurants, are springing up alongside the traditional fish and chip shops.
Two years ago, Max O'Rourke had his finger on the pulse when he opened St Leonard's first boutique hotel. Set on a quiet stretch of the seafront, Zanzibar is an elegantly converted five-storey Victorian house with a private-home atmosphere. The idea has gone down so well that he's just opened two more rooms.
"Don't expect too much of the towns," says Max. "There's enough to keep you busy for a weekend. But there's not that much and that's the point - in the end you just have to relax." The bedroom Each of the eight luxurious rooms is themed on a different country or continent and three have sea views. I loved my night in the contemporary coolness of Antarctica. The two new rooms, Bali and Egypt, are compact but classy. Bathrooms vary from in-room showers to free-standing or built-in baths and are supplied with Molton Brown goodies.
The food and drink The glass of bubbly on arrival is a relaxing touch. The delicious breakfast features local ingredients and can be enjoyed with a Buck's fizz.
The access Children can be accommodated. Small dogs are allowed in Bali and this ground-floor room might suit guests with limited mobility, but there are still the street steps.
The damage Double room rates start at £99 per night, including champagne breakfast.
The address Zanzibar International Hotel, 9 Eversfield Place, St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex TN37 6BY (01424 460109; zanzibarhotel.co.uk)
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