The Grand Hotel, Eastbourne
Hotel - King Edwaroad's Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN21 4EQ - 4 Stars - 152 Rooms
3 reviews from the community
Review of "The Grand Hotel, Eastbourne"
Will do my best to return all the reads that I can. Give me a nudge if it looks like I've forgotten you. :)
Choosing a wedding venue became a rather easy task after visiting the Grand Hotel for a wedding showcase. We had no idea about what we wanted for a wedding but on my in-laws advice went to a wedding showcase to get some ideas. As we entered the Grand for the first time (with no intention of having it as a venue due to perceived costs) we were greeted by a member of staff named Gabriele who showed us around and talked us through the various wedding packages that they offer before taking us through to the ballroom where various photographers, cake makers etc had their stalls.We fell in love with the Grand from the moment we were shown the first function room and went home googling whether it really was possible to sell a kidney on the black market and how much you could get for it. Realising this wasn’t a viable option (Google really doesn’t have all the answers..) we then contacted my dad to ask how much he fancied contributing to the wedding. Fortunately he could tell how much we loved the Grand and agreed to pay the majority of the costs which meant that we were able to commit to the Grand as our wedding venue and begin the wedding planning.
About The Grand Hotel
The Grand is a 19th Century 5 star hotel situated on Eastbourne Seafront (The south coast of England). It is part of the Elite Hotels group and has 152 rooms (including 23 suites), many of which have a sea view. The hotel also offers a spa, outdoor swimming pool, 17 function rooms of varying sizes, bars and award winning restaurants. The Grand is also know as “The White Palace” which seems an appropriate way of summing up its very Grand appearance on the seafront.The Victorian architecture inside is stunning and one of the reasons that we chose the hotel was that if the weather had been bad on the wedding day it wouldn’t have mattered with regards to photos as the inside of the hotel would still give a beautiful background for photos.
The hotel had a carpark which you could reserve a space in for a fee or just turn up and chance it.
Planning a WeddingBoth my husband and I (the novelty of that phrase has not worn off yet so bear with me) are fairly laid back in our attitudes towards what we wanted for a wedding. I certainly wasn’t a bridezilla and many of the companies that we dealt with seemed quite shocked at how easy we were to deal with. We told Gabriela our wedding planner at the hotel that we weren’t fussy in the sense of having numerous demands, we just wanted to have an enjoyable wedding day where our guests were relaxed and able to enjoy celebrating with us. She asked us questions about numbers and discussed possibilities in terms of rooms which helped our wedding quickly take shape. Gabriela gave us a list of suppliers recommended by the Grand from which we ended up choosing the photographer, decorations and disco (all of which were fabulous).
The Grand are obviously used to planning weddings and this is evident through their faultless communication and documentation. At every point of the process we felt calm and reassured that the Grand had everything in hand.During the planning stages of the wedding we visited the Grand a couple of time after asking to see the rooms again and to test the ceremony music we had put on an ipod the day before the wedding. They were always happy to accommodate us and made us feel so very welcome each time we visited.
Prior to the wedding we had to decide on the menu for our wedding breakfast (the meal… wedding breakfast sounded absurd to me at the start of the wedding planning process but now I use the lingo!) We were given a menu with a variety of options and were told that we could pick two options from each course to try for our food tasting which was included in the price of our package. We picked our choices and arranged a date to go for the food tasting session.We weren’t really sure what to expect and were half worried that they wouldn’t know what we were there for but on arriving at the “Garden restaurant” we were greeted and taken to a table with a printed menu with our names at the top and the food that we had chosen. For the starter we had chosen a pate and a duck salad. Both were incredible but we decided on the duck for our wedding meal. For each course they gave us a plate of each option so we were able to try a bit and then swap plates. What we hadn’t anticipated was that they also gave us two different white wines with the starter to try and two red wines with the main to try so that we could pick one white and one red for the actual wedding meal. My husband was driving on this occasion so it fell to me to test and polish off the wines (such a burden but I took one for the team!). For the main we tried a duck course which was delicious but opted for the chicken as we felt it was a safer option when choosing for our guests and didn’t feel that we could serve them two courses of duck! For dessert we tried a fruit roulade which was lovely and a chocolate and orange torte which is possibly the most amazing thing I’ve ever eaten so that was a clear winner. After not really knowing what to expect, we thoroughly enjoyed the whole process and it made us really excited about our wedding day as we realised at that point that the food was going to be pretty wonderful!
The staff were attentive during our food tasting meal and asked us which options we preferred but were not at all pushy and said that we could let Gabriela, our wedding planner know once we had decided on our final choices. I made the decisions on the wine (which after 4 large glasses I was quite happy about!).
CommunicationThroughout the whole process of the wedding, the communication from The Grand was excellent. Our emails were replied to promptly and on occasions where we or family members contacted them by telephone they were reassuringly helpful and efficient. A few of our guests contacted the hotel to book rooms for the wedding and were offered a 10% discount on the room prices as they were part of the wedding party. A friend of mine made our wedding cake and took it upon herself to contact The Grand rather than worrying us with the arrangements of getting the cake there, what kind of stand they had etc. From what she has said they were brilliant and really helpful whenever she needed to ask them questions.
For us, the information we were given was perfect. Not so much that we felt like we were drowning in paperwork but enough that we knew exactly what was happening and when. Our bill was broken up clearly with dates to pay each amount and a few weeks before the wedding we went for our final planning meeting at the Grand to go through the finer details. We had about two pages of questions written out when we arrived but by the time Gabriela had been through it all with us and asked if we had any questions I had none as she had answered them all.
The Wedding DayMy husband arrived with his parents at about 10am on our wedding day. I was getting ready at home and the ceremony wasn’t until 2pm. As part of our package they were provided with a “changing room” which was basically one of their standard bedrooms with a bathroom so they were able to get ready comfortably without worry about creasing their outfits in the car.
My bridesmaids alongside my mum and I arrived at the hotel on time just before 2pm and were greeted by the toast master (provided by the hotel as part of our package) who took us up towards a small interview room where I had a 5 minute interview with the registrars just to confirm that we definitely weren’t related and that I wasn’t being forced into the marriage. By the time I came out, my mum had been escorted into the ceremony room and my bridesmaids and I were taken to the corridor outside where we awaited the music to start for our entrance. Everything from there went perfectly with the ceremony and we walked out 30 minutes later to an instrumental version of “Always look on the bright side of life” which got a few giggles. As we left the ceremony room we were greeted with a glass of champagne and escorted by a member of staff to the front of the hotel where we had a whole group photo on the steps. After a couple of photos of just us we then were taken round to the drinks reception where our guests were already enjoying their sparkling fruit cocktails on the lawn.During the drinks reception we did the majority of our professional photos and luckily the weather was kind to us so all of this was able to take place outside (although a room had been reserved for us indoors in case the weather hadn’t been good). After the drinks reception we were held back while our guests were taken into the room for the meal. As part of our package the Grand had put up a seating plan and printed the name cards (we had just send them a diagram of where we wanted people to sit so it was all pretty straight forward). We were then announced into the room by the toast master and took our seats at our table (we had a round table rather than a long top table as my parents have both remarried so it made it easier for us to all sit together…luckily they all get on well!). The starter was already on the tables when we walked in so we started the meal straight away. Our wine glasses were constantly topped up and there were jugs of ice cold water on the table which was much appreciated after standing outside in the heat for photos. The room itself was beautiful and the perfect size for our 62 guests.
The meal was just as delicious as it had been when we had our food tasting session and received many compliments from our guests which was nice as it is always difficult when choosing a meal for everyone else to eat. The couple of guests with allergies (nuts and gluten) were well catered for.
During the meal my 5 year old flower girl had accidentally drawn on and put stickers (from an activity pack I had provided for her) on her fabric napkin after mistaking it for the paper napkins she is usually allowed to draw on in restaurants. Her mum explained this to one of the staff in an apology and they were exceptionally kind telling her not to worry and asking her to sign it in case she became a famous artist one day.
The speeches were excellent (my husband had been rehearsing his out loud in a graveyard for weeks before hand not wanting anyone to hear him!) and following the final toast we were given half an hour to relax before the evening started. We took the opportunity to abandon our guests and go and find our room which we hadn’t yet seen. We had a suite included in our wedding package and it was the most beautiful room I’ve ever stayed in. As you walked in it was more like an apartment than a room and had large sliding glass doors giving the most breath-taking view of the sea. With a lounge area, dining room, huge bedroom and luxurious bathroom we contemplated staying up there for the evening and hoping no one noticed! We enjoyed 20 minutes to ourselves while we downed the complimentary water and lifted the hundreds of layers of my dress up whilst I laid down with the fan on me so that I could cool down (so romantic I know!).On making our way down to the ballroom we found that our evening guests had started to arrive so we were guided through the cutting of the cake and our first dance by the toast master. Our evening reception took place in the Compton room which is the most beautiful ballroom with its own bar. We had opted for 11 large round tables around the dance floor which worked brilliantly and meant that everyone had somewhere to sit if they wanted to and as a result the dance floor was always busy as no one had to worry about guarding their seat with their life.
The evening flew by and our 120 guests all seemed to have a great time. The buffet came out at 8.30pm and although we didn’t get the chance to have any of it due to still being full from the meal and trying to circulate the room we were told by numerous people that it was fantastic. It was a hot buffet with chips, pasta dishes and meat skewers. From what I saw on people’s plates it really did look good. They also cut up our wedding cake as per our instructions and put that out with the buffet which worked well.The staff all worked hard to make sure the evening reception was well managed and we had a wonderful time. We stuck to water all evening but from what I am aware the drinks were quite expensive but I guess that is to be expected from a 5 star hotel. The main toilets which I didn’t get chance to visit were raved about by my bridesmaids who said they were the most luxurious toilets you could wish for. Exceptionally clean with a dedicated make up and seating area.
I got the chance to escape the guests and visit the disabled toilet once which gave the required space for my bridesmaid to get up and under the many layers of my dress to assist me in one of the most undignified moments of my life and I can’t complain about the facilities.Towards the end of the evening the hotel assisted in calling taxis for our guests and a few of the more enthusiastic dancers hung around for the last song. By which point we were desperate to get out of our clothes and have a nice cold shower so we snuck up to our room and did just that.
We were pleasantly surprised to find that the complimentary water that we had drunk earlier in the evening had been replaced in our absence and on realising that we were now hungry and had missed out on the buffet we ordered room service. Our room service came promptly and was very nice and reasonably priced. We sat and ate our cheese toastie at 1am before realising that we were buzzing with excitement from the day and were never going to be able to sleep.
BreakfastBreakfast was served in the Garden Restaurant and we were taken to the same table that we had been allocated for our food tasting a few months before. Whether this was just a coincidence or a deliberate effort, it was a nice touch. We ordered pots of tea, coffee and toast and then got our cooked breakfast from the buffet. There was the option to order extra items such as eggs cooked in 900 different ways but we were quite happy with the buffet. There was also a continental style buffet but we avoided that an indulged in meat overload. The food was fantastic. You could tell that it was high quality food and none of it felt or tasted like it had been sitting around at the buffet. It was really impressive but we ate too much and had to go back to our room for a lie down before checking out.
Our wedding packageThe Grand offer a range of different wedding packages so you can choose one to suit your needs. We chose the “Imperial Package” which was £135 per person for our day guests and £16.25 for our evening guests. To have this package we had to have a minimum of 50 adult guests for the day and 80 for the evening which was fine as we had 62 for the day and 120 for the evening. We only had to cater for 80% of the evening guests and as part of a special offer our day guests went free to the evening so that saved us some money.
This price we paid per person included the following:
- Use of the Dukes room for the ceremony
- A three-course wedding meal in the Princes room (an absolutely beautiful room) followed by coffee and petit fours
- The services of a toast master throughout the day
- A glass of sparkling cocktail for each guest on arrival
- Use of the Compton room (a magnificent ballroom) for the evening reception
- Two glasses of wine per person for the meal
- A glass of champagne for each person for the toast
- Use of a silver cake stand and knife
- Personalised seating plan, place cards and menus
- Red carpet for arrival
- Master suite for the bride and groom for the wedding night
- The changing room used by my husband and his parents on the morning of the wedding
- The food tasting session for my husband and I prior to the wedding
- The services of our event manager Gabriela
- The package also included an allocation of £5.67 per person towards flowers with one of the hotels nominated florists. This actually worked quite well as we had no idea just how expensive wedding flowers are so having a large chunk of it already paid helped us out a lot.
Teenagers were priced at £68 per person and children at £38. We were able to choose a separate meal for the children so they had chicken nuggets and chips. The teenagers had the same as the adults but minus the alcohol.Guests to the wedding were able to get a 10% discount on room rates if they wanted to stay which a few did but many stayed in local hotels as the rooms at The Grand are quite expensive at £230 for their cheapest double room.
Although it of course worked out to be a very expensive day, we did some comparison calculations of “cheaper” venues locally and with those by the time you calculate all of the individual bits like room hire and food it works out to be a very similar price. We liked knowing that everything was included in our package and our Master Suite for the night would have cost £500 for the night if we had paid for it separately so we felt it was a reasonable price for such a spectacular day.
I have saved this section till last as it really was what impressed us the most about The Grand. The staff were outstanding. From the moment we walked into the Grand for the first time we were made to feel welcome and relaxed. We had been worried that it might be a bit pretentious and too posh for us but they have got the perfect balance of classy and professional yet warm and friendly. Nothing was too much trouble and the hotel is so well run that we couldn’t have asked for our wedding day to have run more smoothly. It is evident that the staff are well trained and it would seem that they really enjoy their jobs. The event manager for the day, a lovely man named Les helped my mother in law take all of our gifts up to her room in the middle of the night and went above and beyond to make sure we enjoyed every moment of our day.Our wedding planner Gabriela was incredible and took all of the stress out of wedding planning. As a result of her and the other staff we were able to enjoy every single moment of planning the wedding. The suppliers that we used from the recommended list that she gave us were all excellent. We could have chosen others but knowing that they were specifically recommended by the Grand and used to working at the venue meant we didn’t have to worry.
When we returned from honeymoon we went back to the hotel to pick up our plastic cake topper which they had kept safe for us as we had forgotten to take it when we left the day after the wedding. We were again greeted warmly and made to feel like VIPs.
OverallOur wedding day was even more perfect than we had hoped it would be. The Grand Hotel did the most fantastic job from start to finish and we would wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone considering having a wedding in Eastbourne. We are now very fond of the hotel and will definitely be going back to use the restaurants again (once we are less poor!). Our whole experience was such a positive one that it is hard to think of any areas for improvement. The price of drinks at the bar were quite high but I guess this is to be expected for this type of establishment.
Overall we were delighted with The Grand and would fully recommend them for either a stay, a meal or an event. The building really is beautiful and we cannot wait to see our professional photos when they are ready.
Product Information : The Grand Hotel, Eastbourne
Manufacturer's product descriptionHotel - King Edwaroad's Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN21 4EQ - 4 Stars - 152 Rooms
Rating: 4 Stars
Address: King Edwaroad's Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN21 4EQ
County: East Sussex
Listed on Ciao since: 05/12/2006