Michael Edwards discovers that the humble beach hut has gone designer
Since when did Beach Huts stretch out over three levels? And since when did they boast wi-fi, dry white wine chilling in the fridge, a welcoming decanter of sloe gin and a refreshing rainfall shower? At Felpham, a serene stretch of the Sussex shoreline hosting the Beachcroft Hotel, four beach huts bring indulgent luxury to the traditional beach holiday.
The duck-egg blue clapperboard and jauntily angled roof of the four beach hut suites would not look out of place in The Hamptons. This is designer living from architects Ivon Blumer and bold interior design from Kathleen Turner.
The four beach hut suites, part of the Beachcroft Hotel – simply and evocatively named Beach, Sand, Pebble and Shell – are just yards from the beach. Only the coastal path lies between their decking terraces and the shingle.
Guests can even opt for a continental breakfast delivered to their hut. In fair weather, you can breakfast on the terrace. Is there a better way to start the day than the gentle sea shanty rhythm of waves breaking on the shore, seagulls calling as they drift on the thermals and sea breezes gently rustling the palm tree-planting? This is the seaside holiday you never had.
No weary walk back from the beach here, no tramp back to a distant hotel in a damp swimming costume with sand between the toes. The huts have a bright light bathroom with a rainfall shower. A touch LED mirror builds the maritime theme as it is shaped like a porthole.
Gone, too, is Sand in the Sandwiches Syndrome (SSS) and aerial raids by seagulls. On request, Beachcroft will deliver a picnic hamper to your beach hut.
The bathroom, on the ground floor, is next to a small bunk room for two children. They wake up to the sight of brightly coloured buckets and spades: just in case they have forgotten they are on holiday.
Half-a-dozen steps lead to an airy lounge whose glass doors open onto the decking. Each hut has its own distinctive seaside gallery of art: a tall primary colours portrait of bygone bathers, with a hint of Côte d’Azur sophistication, draws the eye in every lounge.
Retro railway posters, with their richly coloured nostalgia for Britain’s seaside resorts, recall the simple pleasures of a bygone era. As an information board on the coastal trail recalls, between the wars, travellers would take Sunday’s 7.01 train from Victoria and catch a return train at 18.00, after a full day on the South Coast.
Kathleen Turner’s interior design with a palette of seaside blues and maritime themes subtly shouts, “Holiday”. The theme flows, like an incoming tide, up the stairs to a mezzanine hosting the master bedroom with its white linens double bed. Two bedside tables are inventively shaped as champagne corks. From the bed, there is a horizon view through a porthole. Early morning guests could be forgiven for thinking that they have woken on a cruise ship.
When the needle of Beachcroft’s barometer points to “Fair”, Blake’s Bar and Terrace is the place to be from morning coffee and cake through to evening bistro dining. The Terrace pays tribute to William Blake’s love of Felpham. After a visit in 1800, the artist, poet and visionary enthusiastically wrote to a friend, “Heaven opens here on all sides her golden gates”.
If the British weather is not as “Fair” as one would have hoped, the Beachcroft Hotel has the maritime-themed Tamarisk restaurant. The menu offers classic English fare – chicken, lamb, steak and sea-bream – creatively presented. More casually, Monty’s Bar’s bar provides quintessential fish and chips and other pub favourites. Diners in the Tamarisk Restaurant can select from either menu.
Monty’s Bar is named after hotel owner Peter de Savary’s dog. Close to the bar, there is a dog station with treats and water. This is definitely a dog-friendly hotel. Dogs are welcome in the Beach Huts.
Although it is hard to leave peaceful Felpham, a booklet in every beach hut illustrates several local walks. Some are based in the South Downs National Park; one walk gives views from Chichester harbour across The Solent and others explore Littlehampton and Worthing.
Without a doubt, the stylish suites reinvent the humble beach hut, paying creative homage to the Great British Seaside holiday. What would William Blake say as he poured himself a sloe gin and looked out over the beach?
Tell Me More About Beachcroft Hotel & The Beach Hut Suites
Beachcroft Hotel & The Beach Hut Suites, Clyde Road, Felpham, PO22 7AH
T: 01243 827142 E: email@example.com
Beach Suites, sleeping 2 adults and 2 children, begin from £275 per night, including breakfast.