“ Address: Mermaid Street / Rye / East Sussex TN31 7EY „
My husband and I decided to go away for my Birthday / Valentines weekend and wanted to book something a bit special. We both like historical buildings, and after researching old inns along the coast not too far from London, we settled on the Mermaid Inn. The Mermaid is in the small medieval Cinque Port town of Rye in East Sussex, about two miles from the sea. It is easily accessible by train on roads. The Mermaid dates back to 1156, though it was destroyed by fire in 1377 and rebuilt in 1420, so the cellar and foundations are the only original remaining part. The price for a standard double is usually £90 per person per night B&B, but we found a deal for £115 per night B&B. The hotel has a range of rooms to choose from, including four poster and family rooms. All the rooms are en-suite, have tea and coffee making facilities, free Wi-Fi, an LCD TV and 24 hour room service.
Upon arriving at the hotel, we found that the small car park was already full. We had been pre warned of this on the website so carried on driving down Mermaid Street, a narrow one way cobbled street. Luckily for us we found parking right at the bottom of the road with no parking restrictions and didn't have to pay to park there. Unfortunately we then had to carry our bags up the hill (I know - we should have stopped outside but by the time I thought of that, it was too late!).
The Mermaid Inn is a real gem. With beams everywhere and roaring fires in the main bar and the two guest lounges it was incredibly warm and welcoming. After checking in, a porter took us to our room where we unpacked and had a good look around. The room itself was fairly small. It had a cupboard in one corner, a chest of drawers and a dressing table. There was a chair on one side of the bed, and a small flat screen TV on the wall. The en-suite bathroom was spacious. Unfortunately it just had a bath with a shower head and no curtain so it was difficult to shower in it (my husband got water everywhere!).
There are pictures of former Kings and Queens along the passage from the main door to the bar, and along the passage as soon as you enter, there are pictures of many of the famous people who have stayed at or visited the Inn including Charlie Chaplin, Jonny Depp and Michael Caine. Another famous visitor to the Inn is said to have been Queen Elizabeth I! There are a few stairs around, and a few low doorways, so you need to keep your wits about you whilst walking around.
We decided to go out for dinner as the food in the hotel restaurant was expensive (around £30 for a main course). They also serve a bar menu but we wanted something a bit more mid range. We returned to the hotel for a nightcap in the bar, and sat in front of the famous Giants Fireplace. The bar was fairly busy. It was incredibly smoky in there which was a bit off putting at first, but we soon got used to it. OH decided he was still hungry and has dessert in the bar - Chocolate Tart with Grand Marnier sorbet which was fantastic!
The bed was comfortable and the room warm (too warm for me so had the windows open but probably about right for most people). This is certainly not a complaint - we chose it because it is an old building and clearly nothing can be done about this - but the beams creaking were incredibly noisy throughout the night. We did get a little bit used to it, but having read about the ghosts which are said to inhabit the rooms at the Mermaid, I was a little scared both nights! We were also by a door in the corridor so whenever someone went through it, it sounded like someone was trying to get into our room. Again, this is not a complaint, but if you are thinking of staying there it is something you should be aware of.
Breakfast the next day was served until 10am. There was a good choice including Full English, Kippers or Smoked Haddock and Eggs Benedict which I had both mornings. OH had Full English and both were a good size and filling. There was also a buffet table with fruit, cereal, yoghurts and juices. Tea, coffee and toast were served to the table.
We went out for the day and returned late afternoon to have a drink and read the papers in front of one of the fires in the guest lounges. It is obviously a popular thing to do on a cold February day as many other people had the same idea, but there was plenty of room to sit.
When we returned to the room it was nicely tidied again, and the tea, coffee and biscuits in the bedroom has been replenished, as has the shampoo and shower gel in the bathroom.
Again we went out for dinner and returned to the hotel for OH to have dessert (which he said was also delicious) and to have a night cap in front of the fire.
When we checked out the next day we had a lovely chat with the ladies on reception about the history of the hotel and the various ghost sightings (I was too worried to ask before as I knew it wouldn't help me sleep!). I asked about the cellars and they called one of the porters to show us down there. When the door was opened the cold and the smell of damp was very strong. It is now used to store the wine and is a lot smaller than I had expected but the current owners apparently sealed up the tunnels which weave under the town of Rye.
In summary The Mermaid Inn is a lovely place to stay which is full of history. The owners are obviously passionate about preserving the character of the Inn whilst trying to make a comfortable and enjoyable place for guests to come and share it with them. I don't think I would be happy to have paid the full price as I think £180 a night for a small room is a bit much, so if you do want to stay here, then keep your eyes open for the special deals.
Thanks for reading, and please ask if you have any questions. Rachel
The Mermaid Inn
Tel: +44 (0)1797 223065