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Last year, we decided to go away for a long weekend. Having recently discovered the Smoothhound site, we browsed the options, and decided on Eastbourne. At the time, we did not want to go too far from home in case we needed to get back quickly (family illness), and this suited us perfectly, being just over an hour away. The fact that it was close to the sea was also an important factor, as “We do like to be beside the seaside!” I emailed several hotels listed in the Smoothhound pages, and from the replies received, chose the Princes. Booking was done mainly via email, although I did send the deposit by snail mail, as I was none too keen on giving my credit card details via email. I received a prompt receipt, with a Princes Hotel brochure, and a ten % reduction for using Smoothhound. WHERE IS IT? The Princes is to be found in a relatively quiet turning, just off the main coast road along the front at Eastbourne. It is to the west of the pier, going towards Beachy Head. By car, take any route to Eastbourne, and make for the sea front, by the pier. Turn right at the pier, and Lascelles Terrace is about 500 metres on the right. It is in a good position for access to the beach, to the main shopping areas, and the theatres. ABOUT THE HOTEL The Princes Hotel is rated 3 star by both RAC and the AA. It is a privately owned family concern where all staff are carefully picked to ensure quality of service combined with friendly courtesy. There are 45 rooms, all are tastefully furnished and attuned for peace and comfort. All rooms have private bath/shower and toilet. All are centrally heated and provide colour television/radio, tea making facilities and direct dial telephone There are five floors, including the basement. The ground floor is given over to reception, bars and conference rooms. There are facilities for Weddings, Private Functions, Banquets Receptions and Dinner Dances, and the Prince s also has several quiet and intimate meeting rooms. This enables them to cater for in-house Conference packages. All back up equipment such as overhead projectors, flip charts and video screens are available. the Princes "Royal" bar is comfortable to relax in, and a full variety of drinks and snacks area available to suit any palate. (Information above taken from the Princes on-line brochure found on the Smoothhound site) OUR FIRST IMPRESSION On arrival, our first impression from the outside was rather disappointing. The Princes is a fairly large hotel, and I have to say that the exterior looked rather shabby. The paintwork was somewhat dingy, and the whole place looked as though it could do with an entire facelift! There was only street parking available, although, as we went in April, this didn’t present too much of a problem. I would imagine though, that during the summer months, parking could be a nightmare. The front of the hotel faced the road, and the rear overlooked what I can only describe as a hole where a swimming pool used to be, plus all the debris that goes hand in hand with a building site. We subsequently discovered that the previous owners had allowed the hotel to become somewhat run-down, and that the new owners had made renovating the interior their priority, which made sense. The exterior was due to be spruced up the following autumn. INSIDE THE HOTEL Our impression underwent a drastic change once inside the hotel. New carpet had been laid throughout: indeed, one of the residents’ lounges was being re-carpeted whilst we were there. Being a rich burgundy colour, this gave the whole place a feeling of plushness. The people manning reception were very helpful, giving us plenty of leaflets and information about the local area. We booked a daily newspaper, which was delivered promptly to our room each morning before breakfast. The formalities were dealt with quickly and efficiently, and we were shown to our room. I have to add here, that the lift to the upper floors was one of the smallest I have ever seen! There was barely room for three people, let alone luggage. However, it worked efficiently, and there were no problems with it during the three days that we stayed there. Our room was on the third floor, and thankfully overlooked the road, not the hole! The room was of average size, with twin beds, a couple of comfy chairs, and a built in dressing table/desk/drawers etc., along one wall. We had a colour television with remote control, and ample tea and coffee making equipment. The en-suite bathroom had a shower over the bath, fresh towels daily, soap, shampoo and shower gel and a hairdryer. There were radiators in the bedroom and the bathroom, and a towel warming rail. It was, in fact, a typical hotel room: adequate, but nothing special. THE RESTAURANT AND FOOD The restaurant was located in the basement, and could be reached either via the lift, or by stairs. It was spacious and airy, and the tables were not too close together. When we stayed there, it was a quiet time of year, so there were not many guests. However, there were always at least three waitresses, plus a wine waiter in the evenings. Service was always prompt and friendly, and the staff always seemed cheerful. I believe that they were all related in some way to the owners. At breakfast time, we helped ourselves to cereal, fruit and/or yoghurt, plus fruit juice (choice of orange or grapefruit). Whilst we were eating these, our order for a cooked breakfast was taken. Included in the menu was a full English, any selection from that full English, boiled eggs, poached or scrambled eggs on toast, smoked haddock or kippers. This was all accompanied by as much toast as required. Tea and coffee was served as requested, and replenished if required. The Table D’H ote evening menu was changed daily, and there was also an a la carte menu if required, at extra cost. We tended to stick with the Table D’Hote, which was included in our price. Below is a typical day’s menu. Starters Soup of the day Prawn cocktail Fruit juice Main course Roast beef with Yorkshire pudding Fricassee of turkey with rice Vegetable lasagne All the above served with a choice of potato, selection of vegetables, or a salad. Sweets Ice cream Apple pie and custard Cheese and biscuits. The food was pleasant enough, always piping hot, and with adequate portions. Breakfast was any time between 7.30 and 9.30, and dinner was served between 6.30 and 8.30. THINGS TO DO NEARBY We took the land train along the sea front, and then walked along towards Beach Head. Unfortunately, the foot and mouth epidemic was at its height, so we were unable to get close to the Head, but we enjoyed the leisurely walk back. We also visited the Museum of Shop Life, which was located on the main road from the hotel, towards the town centre. This is set on four levels, and depicts how shops have progressed since Victorian times, up until today. We spent a very interesting hour in here, and I purchased several useful items to take into school. I also had my picture taken, sitting on a broomstick! (No comments please!) At the end of Lascelles Terrace furthest from the beach, is the Congress Theatre. While we were there we booked for a jolly good farce, starring Gordon Kaye. They have many different productions her during the course of a season. The main shopping centre in Eastbourne is easily accessible, and has the usual main high street stores. However, we preferred the local shopping area, where there are several antique shops, and unusual leather goods shops, as well as the usual souvenir shops. (Mug and tea towel purchased!) PRICES <br> The advertised price is from £35.00 per person per night, for dinner, bed and breakfast. We got a 10% discount for going through Smoothhound, making our price just £31.50 per person per night. The price rises to £40.00 per night during the summer, with reductions for children sharing the parent’s room. There are also special offer breaks available, and we recently received an offer of 3 nights, DBB, with a theatre trip thrown in, for £100.00 per person. RECOMMENDATIONS For a three day break, relatively close to home, the Princes offers a comfortable stay at a reasonable price. As we were out of season for our visit, there was not much going on, but we had a relaxing time, which was exactly what we wanted at that time. For the price we paid, I think we got good value for money. Once the exterior has been given its facelift, and looks more welcoming from the outside, I think it would be even better. My one reservation would be the parking problems at the height of summer. I would recommend the Princes as a reasonable 3 star hotel. I have stayed in better hotels which have had the same rating, but then, I’ve also had to pay more. So if you are looking for a low budget, sensibly priced break in a relatively comfortable hotel, then I think the Princes could well be one to consider. ADDRESS; The Princes Hotel, Lascelles Terrace, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN21 4BL EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org I have not come across an official website for the hotel, but a colour brochure and tariff can be found on the Smoothhound site (www.smoothhound.co.uk) Simply click on the map until you come to the list of hotels for Eastbourne. The Princes is eleventh in the list.