Smugglers, spas and steam trains

Revive the dark, broody story of Sussex smuggling at St Clement’s Caves. Soothe the mind and body at the Spaghetti Tree spa. Do the 1066 thing at Hastings Castle and Battle Abbey, or steam along the Bluebell Railway. Stay in for poker and karaoke, pedicures and manicures, movie marathons or wine and cheese.

Smugglers, spas and steam trains Smugglers, spas and steam trains Smugglers, spas and steam trains Smugglers, spas and steam trains

Big days out

Hastings comes with a sand-and-shingle beach, plus crazy golf and blustery walks backed by grand Edwardian hotels and a two-level promenade. For something sandier, try Camber Sands. To revive the dark story of Sussex-coast smuggling, head to St Clement’s Caves, visited by everyone from The Rolling Stones to royalty.

For 1066 and all that, Hastings Castle is a huge part of England’s history. Built by William the Conqueror, it was England’s first Norman motte-and-bailey castle. Along the coast, Battle Abbey commemorates the defeat of Harold II by William. Hire a bike from Hastings Cycles and see it all at close quarters.

Take the funicular railway from the fishing quarter and walk the cliffs, following steep wooded glens carpeted in gorse and wild flowers to find the secret beach at Fairlight Glen. Shoot clay pigeons at Normanhurst or 18 holes at Beauport and Sedlescombe. Fish the lakes and rivers with Bexhill and District Angling Association.

Take the kids to the Blue Reef Aquarium. Steam along the Bluebell Railway with premier dining (and ‘rail’ ale) or the Hastings Miniature Railway. See the best of local history at the Shipwreck Museum and the Jerwood Gallery. Or soothe the mind and body at the Spaghetti Tree spa.

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Big nights in

After your big day out, it’s time for a wild night in. Tackle a takeaway from Pizzarelli or Cinnamon Spice, or make a night of it for a special celebration with chef and butler service. Get your glad rags on.

Learn from the master mixologists with a cocktail party at home, or book a pamper party here with pedicures, manicures, aromatherapy, reflexology, Indian head massage, facials or reiki.

Other good reasons to stay in include murder-mystery dinner nights dressed in Victoriana or Gatsby garb. Maybe a poker competition or spot of karaoke? Tuck in to chocolate or cheese and wine, or make it a movie marathon with your favourite films on the six-foot screen.