Bexhill on Sea (England)
4 reviews from the community
Review of "Bexhill on Sea (England)"
After some 20 plus years of living in Nottingham, I recently moved with my partner and daughter to Bexhill on Sea, to be closer to his dad after losing his mum last year. We'd been visiting East Sussex for the nine years we'd been together, and Bexhill for the last five after his parents moved, so it wasn't a wholly new area, and in fact Bexhill is a town I've come to love over the last five years - I was quite surprised to find I hadn't reviewed it already!
LocationBexhill-on-Sea is a town on the East Sussex coast, roughly 6 miles from Eastbourne and a similar distance from Hastings. There is a railway station in Bexhill itself, right in the town centre, with regular trains running through to London Victoria and Ashford International, or in the other direction to Brighton. Bexhill also incorporates the areas of Collington and Cooden Beach, both of which have their own stations although trains do stop there slightly less regularly.
Bexhill is just off the A259 so easily accessible by car, and does have parking up by the seafront (mostly free for periods of up to 2 hours, but the area in front of the De La Warr Pavilion is pay and display) and free parking in some areas of the town itself though this tends to be busy. The seafront parking can be very full on busy days or when events are on, particularly in the school holidays - usually a space can be found with a bit of driving around, but often with a ten minute walk to get to the town centre itself.Buses run to Bexhill from Hastings and Eastbourne. Every 20 minutes on weekdays and Saturdays, hourly on Sundays. If you're used to big city life,it's worth being aware that buses stop earlier here - last bus on a weekday is just before 8 on the main waverider routes, and some of the other bus services to outlying areas such as Sidley or Bexhill downs stop earlier.
Like Eastbourne, it has a similar population makeup - generally elderly folk, with occasional swells in population during peak tourist season both from tourist, second homers and foreign language students. The population is slowly getting younger in the area though, as the many new build housing estates attract younger first time buyers.
AttractionsUnlike the larger towns of Eastbourne and Hastings, it doesn't have a pier, but instead has the De La Warr Pavilion, a large building just off the beach that works as and art and performance venue - there are always exhibitions on, many of them free, and there is a little cafe bar too, with balconies outside so you can look out to sea on a fine day. It often holds concerts and gigs in the evenings - in fact, one of my favourite comedians, Katherine Ryan is putting on a show there later this year and I'll be attending - I'm really looking forward to it.
A short walk away from the DLWP is Bexhill Museum and Egerton Park. The park is a fab outdoor space, especially in the summer, with bowling greens, tennis courts, boating lake, duck pond, outdoor gym, kids play area, a kiosk cafe and lots of areas to just sit and watch the world go buy. On a fine day, it's on of my favourite places, and I think the kids park in particular is very impressive, with separate areas for toddles, primary, and older children, and some fab play structures - a really impressive zip wire, a giant hamster wheel thing that I simply can't get the hang of but it very fun, and a walk-on roundabout.The museum is also pretty interesting, with a wide range of items inside, from natural history exhibits to ancient egyptian jewellery, as well as regular guest exhibits which in the past have included exhibits on the history of motor racing, and fashion history exhibits. At the moment, the guest exhibition is fashions of the 20s and thirties, and the clothing on display is beautiful - and very relevant to the town, which really began to grow during that period. The most you'll pay to get into the museum is £3, with lower prices for kids, students, and the elderly, and it is absolutely worth every penny of that fee. The museum also does regular guided walks, which are fantastic for me as a new local to learn more about the area, as they are generally walks of 2-3 miles with a theme, such as art deco buildings in the area, transport through the ages, and the guides have always been knowledgeable and open to questions.
Going through Bexhill and up past the train station, you come to Bexhill Old Town, a small area with a couple of shops, a couple of cafes, and the Manor Barn and Gardens. This free space is what remains of an elizabethan manor house, previously actually own by Elizabeth the First (although nothing suggests she ever actually lived there!). It's quite interesting, as although you are outdoors, you're walking through what would have been the inside of a grand house, and you'll see part walls with grand fireplaces still set in them, and window frames allowing you to peek through and see the plants in the next area. This is only a very small area, and won't take more than 15 minutes if that to walk around in it's entirety, even if you do stop to read the information plaques on the walls, but is a very beautiful and serene space to read a book or enjoy a picnic lunch.If you like the traditional seaside penny falls games, there is a very small arcade just off the beach. It's a little shabby and tired maybe, but is usually quiet as unlike the larger neighbouring towns of Eastbourne and Hastings, Bexhill probably doesn't draw in that many tourists.
The main attraction for me though has to be the beach - it's possible, if you like walking to walk along it all the way to Hastings, or all the way in the other direction through Pevensey to Eastbourne. There is a small lifeguarded area in front of the DLWP, but other than that the beach is, for the most part, very quiet and peaceful, and the scenery changes as you walk along - between Bexhill proper and Cooden, for example, you'll walk around the back of some REALLY fancy houses, perfect if you like a glimpse of how the other half live (and look out for the driftwood sculptures as you pass Beaulieau Green. Cooden also has a fantastic golf course, if that's your thing, and a great hotel and bar directly on the beach, a lovely place to go for an evening meal.
ShoppingThe town itself isn't exactly a shopping mecca - in fact, it's mostly made up of charity shops and junky antique shops, though there is an interesting hippyish shop called cosmic cave in the town centre, and an impressive second hand bookshop in the market hall. It does have all the necessities though - a couple of small supermarkets in the town centre, chemists, hardware shops, pet shops, and vape shops.
There is a retail park at Ravenside, just outside of Bexhill, that does have a few bigger shops, M and S, B and M, Pc World, B and Q, but all in all if you like shopping Bexhill probably isn't going to wow you.
NightlifeThere isn't one. Ok, thats an exaggeration, but not much of one. There isn't a nightclub, there isn't (as far as I'm aware) any late serving bars of pubs. There are a good handful of pubs in Bexhill, and we just got our first Wetherspoons in July (which is the busiest pub in town by a long shot) but none of them are particularly busy of an evening aside from perhaps the Harp, a tiny dark Irish pub that does occasionally have live music.
Food and Drink
There are plenty of places to grab some food and a drink in Bexhill - fish and chip shops, as you'd expect from a seaside town, are numerous, with Minnie Berthas on the seafront generally accepted to be the best of the bunch. MB's also comes with the advantage that although it has little seating space of it's own, you are able to eat your food in Kerrys Wine Bar next door, so long as you order a drink.If you're after somewhere a little trendier, Rocksalt on Sea offers a good range of drinks, and serves up burgers, artisan pizzas, poshed up salads and a rather good steak. Wetherspoons of course does the same decent value grub and booze as it does everywhere else, and there are a couple of chinese takeaways and kebab shops in the town too.
I actually haven't tried any of the other food or drink places in the town centre, as my favourite place to eat in Bexhill, the Denbigh, is a little way out of the town, but sells fantastic home cooked food in generous portions, with it's ever changing menu making the best of whats in season. Expect to pay between £8-£13 for a main meal, but you definitely get value for money in terms of flavour.
ConclusionI really quite like Bexhill - I love the beach being so quiet, as it's perfect for a good long walk. I love the Manor Gardens and Egerton Park as good quiet relaxing spaces, and I do quite like the abundance of charity shops. That said, I personally don't think Bexhill itself is a fantastic holiday destination, and I think the main attractions in Bexhill could all be covered in half a day. I certainly wouldn't recommend booking a two week holiday in Bexhill BUT as a base from which to explore the wider East Sussex area, it does have advantages - good rail and bus links to the nearby tourist towns, coupled with cheaper prices because it is less touristy,and a rather unspoilt feel.
I love Bexhill, (do come visit the town if you're in the area and have a half day spare) and rate it 5 stars as my home, but for tourism it's really probably only a three, there simply isn't much to do!
Product Information : Bexhill on Sea (England)
Manufacturer's product description
Listed on Ciao since: 30/04/2001