Words by Sarah Jappy & Photography by Isabelle Hopewell
Having conducted a thorough investigation of The Rose, we can confirm it has no thorns. This eight-bedroom hideaway in the heart of dinky Deal – a town as suited to city-fleeing weekenders as it is to long-term seaside residencies – is styled with tongue-in-cheek vintage flair, covetable mid-century furniture and enough candy colours to fill a sweetshop.
Refreshingly, The Rose doesn’t take life too seriously: indeed, there are multiple proofs of the hotel’s witty side, from the burlesque-worthy, red-velvet curtain screening the staircase (and what’s up it) to the cheery blue-and-white striped mugs used for builder-worthy cups of tea at breakfast.
Guests are given multiple reasons to stay in. When you first enter the hotel, you land in the snug little restaurant via a teal-tiled reception area. The restaurant and bar’s liquorice-dark walls are hung with robbed-from-granny artworks, including textured tapestries of horses and bearded, pipe-toting nautical types, plus a giant, lustrous-blue whale engraving swimming high above the tables. Toffee-coloured wood furniture and lashings of chartreuse velvet inject warmth into the inky palette; a giant, flung-open central window lets in a generous stream of sunlight, keeping things easy-breezy.
Throw in a pretty, kitsch-cushioned rose garden with mismatched chairs (perfect for sunny evening libations and lazy dinners), vintage record players in acid pastels, a hipster-pleasing art collection, cool coffee-table tomes adorning bookshelves, rattan galore and glittering crystal whisky decanters in the corridors, and you could feasibly think you’ve swapped Deal for Dalston. No surprise, then, that the hotel’s talented stylist-turned-interior designer Michelle Kelly hails from Hackney. (And very lovely she is, too; we had the pleasure of bumping into her over breakfast.)
Speaking of breakfast, the Rose’s food is a memorable highlight, starring snacky, on-trend, small-plate-style fare that betrays head chef Rachel O’Sullivan’s stint at Soho’s smash-hit holy trinity: Polpo, Polpetto and Spuntino. It’s relaxed, playful food that seems suited to sunny days (O'Sullivan is from Australia, which probably helps) and complements the hotel’s laid-back feel.
During our trip, on an alternately rainy-sunny June weekend, we feasted on giant-gobstopper-sized chicken kiev balls swimming in a golden pool of tarragon butter, green beans topped with a red flurry of romesco, moreish white-bean mash with breadcrumbs, heritage tomatoes, samphire and crème fraîche, delicate cured sea trout with sweet mustard and dill, and a commendably chewy-cheesed mac ‘n’ fromage. Given that the above list comprises one meal and one meal only, it’s perhaps unsurprising that we failed to tackle peanut parfait with raspberries, or sweet pickled strawberries with buttermilk ice-cream and shortbread. (We’ll be back.)
The cocktails were rather a little too easy to drink (fittingly, for a former pub), so the irreproachably good Climpson & Sons coffee was much appreciated the following morning – as was a buttery brioche bacon roll with zingy rhubarb ketchup, and roast mushrooms on toast with a generous dollop of goat’s curd.
Follow our example and spend some time relaxing in the colour-pop lounge and its boiled-sweet-hue sofas and chairs before heading out for a day’s worth of Deal adventures. While plotting our day, we rubbed shoulders with friendly fellow guests, including a magnificent, liquid-copper-coloured hound by the name of Baxter, who seemed to thoroughly approve of his setting. No wonder.
As Baxter knows, dogs are welcome at The Rose, and can stay overnight for a small additional charge. Our own canine companion (alas, languishing back home in London) would have gone potty with pleasure while pootling along Deal Pier, enjoying snaffled fish and chips from Middle Street Fish Bar and rambling along the beachfront, where colourful beach huts bloom like wildflowers. Less dog-friendly lures come in the form of Hoxton Store (where we purchased matching silk kimonos; an age-old British seaside essential), a pleasingly old-fashioned ice-cream parlour and a Barbie-pink beauty salon that seemed to have been transplanted straight from 1950s America and plonked in coastal Kent.
Time things right and Deal could feasibly deliver sun, sea and sand (correction: make that pebbles), but whenever you come to The Rose, you’re guaranteed: biscuits, bed and bacon. Aka bliss.
Should you wish to read more about our English escapades, you can nab a copy of the England magazine here.
And of course, you can book with The Rose by clicking here.