by Jamie Tabberer
With 62 rooms and suites, the Roslin Beach Hotel in Essex’s Southend-on-Sea, or Southend, is one of only a small handful of first-class hotels in this enduringly charming seaside town of 182,000. Its competitors, meanwhile, tend to fall into one of two camps: the retro/in dire need of a facelift, and those belonging to soulless budget chains. The Roslin, then, is something of an anomaly.
Decor and style
First up, its smart, impeccably whitewashed exterior and excellent location are instant selling points. An agreeably light, bright interior – full of wedding-ready whites and creams, plush textures and subtly luxurious touches, like mini chandeliers in the dining room – are crowd-pleasing but gentle. In fact, my only gripe with its appearance was an overabundance of artificial flowers, particularly in the reception area. They were convincing (I was initially delighted when I saw them) but I’d still prefer, if natural, a third as many flowers…
We later discovered our room (which did feature a lovely natural flower arrangement) was similarly simple, tasteful and comfortable, with soft greens added the the colour palette, and curtains and furniture featuring soft, soothing patterns.
The spick and span bathroom, complete with Elemis toiletries (in my opinion, among the best out there), was lovely. But my favourite aspect of the room was the small balcony looking out to sea; my guest and I arrived just an time for an impromptu sunset photoshoot. The room and the sky were with both wonderfully photogenic.
Food and restaurants
The on-site restaurant, boasting AA two Rosettes, also boasted an excellent view. The food, although expensive, was absolutely spectacular.
To start, delightfully arranged seared yellowfin tuna. The sections were bite-sized but big enough for the delicious contrast in taste, colour and texture between the burnt char and the fleshy middle. The pan roasted trout that followed was crisp, impossibly fresh, and quite substantial, accompanied by a rich smoked mussel butter. Dessert – a double chocolate sphere with milk ice cream, melted by the addition of hot chocolate sauce in front of you by your waiter – was full-flavoured and theatrical. Afternoon Tea looked to be the same, and was demonstrably popular with locals and families celebrating birthdays, engagements and more.
This sea-view property enjoys a prominent position on the Thorpe Esplanade – a great spot for jogging. Southend Central train station can be reached in 11 minutes by taxi, while London Southend Airport – the capital’s newest and smallest airport, with a single runway – can be reached in 12 minutes. From here you can fly to many European countries, including blockbuster destinations in Spain, Italy and of course the UK.
Southend itself overlooks the Thames Estuary (where the River Thames meets the North Sea). A mini break destination historically popular with East Enders, it can be reached from London Liverpool Street in under an hour by train, or under 90 minutes by car.
During our weekend visit at the beginning of summer the town centre was remarkably quiet. While enduringly charming – the retro thrills, spills and lights of Adventure Island are magnetic – you get the sense Southend isn’t the tourist hotspot it was in years past. But there are still reasons to visit the town. Not least Southend Pier Museum, still the world’s longest pier. Measuring 2.158km, it’s an instantly bewildering sight, like the lone skyscraper of a city skyline.
Southend gay scene
Southend’s gay scene is quiet – there weren’t an abundance of guys on the usual apps. Albeit The Cliff gay pub, with the eye-catching rainbow night lighting of its exterior, is a local institution and has regular drag karaoke and themed nights. At the hotel itself, the staff were seemingly made aware of my sexuality and across the board went the extra mile to make me feel comfortable and welcome.
For more information about the Roslin Beach Hotel, visit roslinhotel.com.