Spa of the Month: The Grand, Eastbourne


The first hint of spring is in the air and you might be thinking of taking your first outdoor dip of the year. If you’re not, though, a great lover of cold water, it’s good to know that at the Grand in Eastbourne, their outdoor pool opens at Easter. And it’s heated.

The Grand Hotel in Eastbourne is a great, white wedding cake of a hotel, sitting proudly on the edge of the town and at the foot of Beachy Head. Arguably the finest hotel on the South-East coast, it has a history as impressive as its architecture. Built in 1875 (check out the Art Nouveau windows), it has thrown open its doors to everyone from Winston Churchill to Charlie Chaplin, Arthur Conan Doyle to King Constantine of Greece. Debussy wrote his glorious La Mer while staying at the hotel in 1905 and, speaking of music, the BBC had a live radio concert every Sunday from 1924 to 1939 broadcast from the hotel’s Great Hall – it was called, appropriately enough, “Grand Hotel”.

It was no surprise then that there was a pianist accompanying the diners in the hotel’s fine dining restaurant, Mirabelle. The menu is very seasonal and I was there in the depths of winter – the duck liver parfait with sticky date ketchup was a delicious starter and the Sussex fish of the day (appropriate as you sit looking out at the water) was a delicate sea bass with curly kale and pickled cockles.

The rooms – hardly surprising at the Grand – are the height of grandeur and almost all of them have splendid sea views. My first floor room opened out on to a terrace overlooking the waves and inside there were lofty ceilings, a four-poster bed and a sitting room furnished with antiques.

I was, of course, here not just for the sea views but for the spa and booked in for a body and face massage. There was, however, a snag. I had developed a cold a week earlier and the idea of lying face down while my back was massaged was not to be borne – I do like to breathe during treatments! So, I had a chat with therapist Katerina and she decided to make a few changes. The time (a blissful 90 minutes) was booked in and she’d come up with a bespoke treatment. So, we decided on a rejuvenating facial with (while the mask was on) a massage of my arms and hands, legs and feet. Not only that, she could use oils (like ginger) that would warm the muscles and also help with clearing the airways. This wasn’t just a massage, it was a cure!

The spa uses only Kerstin Florian products – this is a lovely range and, suitably enough for a seaside spa, uses natural marine ingredients (such as mud and algae) with herbal extracts and essential oils. Katerina began with their Rehydrating Neroli Cleansing Milk – good for sensitive and dry skin (mine is both) – and then used Rejuvenating Thermal Tonic, a water-based botanical infused toner that restores pH level.

This was followed by the Enzyme Exfoliating Scrub with a trio of natural botanical brighteners to help refine the skin and give it a refreshed glow. And, boy, did I need it. It was noticeable right from the start, though, that my cold symptoms were more present than I’d realised. The cool of the products on my somewhat fevered brow felt wonderful and, once Katerina began to massage my face, neck and shoulders, I could feel the stored tension start to ebb away.

The facial massage was particularly effective being not just relaxing but, by working on various pressure points, Katerina seemed to clear my sinuses. She had lined up tissues and water (just to be on the safe side). In the event, neither was needed – what a relief.

While the Rehydrating Algae Gel Masque was doing its stuff (nourishing, hydrating and calming) she worked on my arms, legs and feet with the Organic Ginger Oil (it has coriander essential oil too). Then it was a further facial massage with the Correcting Hyaluronic Serum, a dab of Correcting Brightening Eye Crème and the final layer of Correcting Rescue Crème, designed to rescue the skin from environment stress and damage, as well as the internal inflammation from those dastardly winter colds.

The Grand has spa breaks throughout the year and it has a huge indoor swimming pool with spa baths and saunas, as well as the outdoor pool. There’s a gym but given it’s spring and the superb seaside location, a better bet would surely be a walk by the sea or over the downs above Beachy Head – a truly glorious spot.

The Grand Hotel, King Edwards Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN21 4EQ. For more information, including details of treatments, Spa Days and Spa Breaks packages, please visit