The Oast House
The Oast House
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Let’s All Move to Rye {Or at Least Go For a Long Weekend}

Author: Lisa Soeno

‘Ohmigosh it’s a castle!’ gasped Lyra as we pulled up to the location of our end-of-summer-holiday, an Air bnb in Rye. Our ‘castle’ was actually the wing of an 19th century oast house but this set the tone for an utterly magical trip, which had both Rich and I scouring Rightmove and seriously considering whether we should up sticks and relocate to the south east coast.

I had been dying to go to the area for two reasons. Firstly, it’s the location of one of my favourite series of books. If you have read and loved The Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard then you probably need to pack your bags and head to Rye sharpish.

Secondly, I remember Charlotte once mentioning that one of her favourite wedding venues (other than her own of course) was The Gallivant Hotel in Camber Sands, and if the founder of Rock My Wedding recommends somewhere then it’s obvs going to be epic and worth a nosy. (On that note, head over to Rock My Family today for some mega exciting news from said blog queen). In the end, we had to abandon our plans to have brunch at The Gallivant, because Jenson was on the verge of having a mega can’t-sleep-won’t-sleep meltdown. But I did pop my head in and it is the epitome of coastal chic, so worth a look if you’re searching for somewhere stunning on the UK coast to stay/eat/get wed.

Wander

Rye is one of those places that’s as pretty as a postcard: perfect if you love having a wander. Everywhere you look there’s an antique or vintage shop, and crumbly brick walls covered in vines and ivy, and quirky quaint doorways. With its cobbles and Georgian houses set on a steep hillside, Mermaid Street is the most instaworthy but least pushchair friendly road I’ve ever seen. (If you visit Rye with a baby, a baby carrier is an essential). Apparently it’s one of the most photographed streets in the UK, and hopefully you can see why from some of the snaps below.

Eat

I was in blinkin’ foodie heaven. In The Fig I had a downright delicious bruschetta piled with parma ham, walnuts, honey and fig (what else?!). In The Ship Inn we sipped on Waddle Goose cider (Rich) and champagne mojitos (me). In Simply Italian we had lovely but low-key calzone pizzas and pasta and were served by brill staff who were ace with the kids.

My favourite meal, however, was one which Lyra and I had on a ‘girls’ night out’ in The Standard Inn. Bear in mind that Lyra is only three years old so it involved less prosecco and more PJ Masks. She had fish and chips; I had THE loveliest ratatouille and feta pastry with cous cous, beetroot and crème fraiche; the waitress made a big fuss of Lyra and her new Skye from Paw Patrol sunglasses; everyone was happy.

Shop

Rye is an antique lover’s dream. Whilst antiques aren’t really my bag – I think they might look a bit odd in a new build house – I can fully appreciate their beauty and I did pick up a cute but wonky wicker kid’s chair for Lyra’s room in a retro shop. I’ve plonked this cushion on top of it and it looks adorable.

On the other hand, independent boutique-y interiors shops ARE my bag. I spent ages in The Shop Next Door and Ashbee And Co, which is a Grade II listed former butchers. I wanted everything. And I took snaps of everything, as you can see below.

Play

We spent one day on the beach and whilst I thought Camber Sands was beautiful, I learnt that a blustery beach and three month old babies do not mix. However Lyra was in her element and the grassy dunes with powder-soft sand made for the ultimate natural playground.

Another afternoon was spent picnicking at the Gun Garden of Rye Castle: knocking on princess doors, clambering over cannonballs and cannons, and eating possibly the best scotch eggs in the world from Rye Deli.

My stuff-to-do-in-Rye list was as long as my arm but as with all good holidays, we just ran out of time. My stuff-to-do-if-we-go-back-to-Rye list is as follows.

1) Cycle from Rye to Camber along the off-road bike path.
2) Watch a film in Kino, a Victorian school house in the heart of Rye that has been converted into a cinema.
3) Get pampered at The Rye Retreat or The Beach Hut, a new spa treatment room that’s a new addition to The Gallivant.

Or maybe we’ll just move there.

Have you been to Rye? Or are you lucky enough to live in the area? Do you have any other recommendations?

And are there any other interiors and foodie treasure-trove-towns I need to know about?

{Contributors}
Author
Author: Lisa Soeno
Lisa is obsessed with all things interior design. And Cadbury buttons.
Follow Lisa on instagram @lisa.soeno

21 thoughts on “Let’s All Move to Rye {Or at Least Go For a Long Weekend}

  1. Oooh I so love a travel recommendation from the RMS team! I actually live only about 20 minutes from Rye though 🙂 Just outside Rye is a great restaurant called The Lime Wharf Cafe, it’s got a sort of beach/cornwall vibe going on as it’s on the river. The food is great and it is really kid friendly but still stylish so that would be my recommendation, definitely one for a sunny day http://limewharfcafe.co.uk/

  2. Oo what a great review, thanks Lisa! My husband and I recently decided we needed to do more weekend trips away and I think Rye is now firmly up there, especially with lots of antique stores to visit. Do you think it would still be a good place to visit in the winter? I love a blustery walk on a British beach in the winter so not bothered about, more about things shutting down etc? X

  3. We spent a few days in Rye as the first leg of our honeymoon a few years ago, and thought it was a pretty awesome place to be. We stayed in a little house called the Quarterhouse, which was perfectly set up for the two of us.

    The highlight for us foodwise was the Ship Inn and although I can’t remember what I ate I do remember that the food was absolutely amazing (and I seem to remember had a local focus). I think we also had takeout one night from a local Indian, and tried out The Runcible Spoon for lunch (name taken from The Owl and The Pussycat).

    In terms of things to do we managed to fit in a walk across the fields to Winchelsea, a quick tour of the castle, and lost of wandering around soaking up the pretty. I loved the house names on Mermaid Street, and confess I might have taken a fair few snaps there myself!

    1. Ahhh, happy memories.

      We had some starters at the Ship Inn whilst we were waiting for a table in Simply Italian and they were delicious.

  4. We did an amazing shoot down at Camber Sands a few years ago but as we were working didn’t get chance to explore Rye. It looks amazing!
    Southwold and Whitstable are great treasure-trove towns you need to explore if you haven’t already! X

    1. Aren’t they the best. I turned on UKTV Gold (or a similar channel) recently and the TV adaptation was on which also looked good! X

  5. We love Rye for a weekend break or even a day trip! Lucky enough to be frequent visitors, so have lots of recommendations to add to this great review…
    Rye hosts quite a few events throughout the year, so well worth looking in to whats on and planning your visit around whatever takes your fancy – Rye Bay Scallop festival (Feb/March) and the huge bonfire extravaganza are definitely highlights for us!
    The Globe Inn on the outskirts of Rye centre is really cosy and again amazing for food.
    Additionally, if you are in the area its well worth a quick visit to Dungeness -completely unique place and photographers heaven, there is also a seafood shack for a quick snack there too (starting to sound food obsessed!).
    We actually live in Whitstable, so can get across to Rye in an hour or so, but when we have wanted to stay for a weekend have found the self catering accommodation provided by Beside The Sea Holidays really handy for both the beach in Camber and quick access to Rye. X x

    1. Thanks Carly! All noted for our next visit. The owner of the Air bnb recommended The Globe too but we just ran out of time.
      Would you second Lauren’s recommendation of Whitstable as a treasure trove town? And more importantly is it a good foodie destination?! 😂 X

      1. Probably completely biased – but Whitstable is great for a wander around lots of lovely shops to collect treasure from… I believe its high street has more independent shops than anywhere else in the country. Have to say the food is the standout attraction though!… Only thing to keep in mind is a lot of the places are quite small, so advance booking is definitely required Wheelers, Jo Jos and the Sportsman (for a blowout treat) would be my top 3, but too many to mention! x x

  6. Total literary nerdgasm over the Cazalet chronicles! Have you read the one released very recently? I was soooo upset by it as the first four are so perfect and it was a pale automaton in comparison.

    I haven’t been to Rye or the area but have such a picture of it in my head between EJH and The Children’s Book by A S Byatt which is set partly and evocatively around Dungeness. Have you read it Lisa? Reckon it’s right up your street xxx

    1. Lucy S I have read it – it didn’t offend me however it didn’t stick with me like the first few. Just googled The Children’s Book. Definitely going to give it a read. Thanks for the recommendation x

  7. The views from the top of the bell tower of St. Mary’s Church in Rye are spectacular on a clear day. Rye has a jazz festival in August, wild boar week at end of October (half term week), a huge bonfire parade and fireworks display around Guy Fawkes night, a great Christmas Fayre day in December and Rye Scallop Festival is a 7 day event every February half term.

    Come back soon!

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