The George is back!


The George. Its closing, from a fire, was a mourning for Rye. Not quite the national mourning we had for the Queen, but still a loss. I missed the warmth of fire-side chats over sharing platters of food. I missed bringing the dog to dry off by that huge fire, as your family grabbed the table nearest to the heat. We have all felt the loss of The George for the last three years in different ways.

So, back in May, the George opened to much fanfare, and even some tears of joy. Yes, we heard about the “little glitches” as the hotel team learned to navigate new layouts and menus. It has been a tough time for all restaurants and hotels. No staff. Higher prices for supplies. Pesky people like me wanting things back as they used to be.

Six months since its opening, and it is time to go back to see what is happening. We chose it for a big Danish family birthday celebration. There is no doubt the interiors of the hotel are a triumph in most rooms. That cosy sofa area upon entering through the main door is lovely. Paintings and pottery from local artists accentuate the rich tapestry of colour. In May, the shop attached to the George before the fire had been re-configured into a confusing parlour room. Now, this area is being changed again, into a smaller, more practical cosy cocktail bar, with the re-installing of a shop out front.

Upstairs on the first floor, the three function rooms are a fabulous re-vamp success. Small functions can use a lovely intimate Long Room at the front of the hotel. Larger parties can enjoy the spectacular newly decorated ballroom. Its historic chandeliers have been replaced with beautiful copies. I just can’t help wondering why a giant disco ball is also hanging up there with them.

A lovely sitting area / drawing room overlooks the hotel’s inner courtyard. Convenient for tiny guests at our party to nap / escape from the table if they wished. With washrooms just down the back staircase, it all feels that, for our party, we have taken over the whole hotel. So, as my grandmother used to say, we have good bone structure. Now what about the meat on those old bones?

Our event menu was designed by Annie. She has this confident energy when you sit down with her that “it will all be sorted”. Annie works alongside the hotel’s function manger, Jenny, and the hotel’s general manager, Tim. Their teamwork is seamless, attentive: menu decided, wines tasted and phewwwww. Settle-into-the-sofa relief that our international guests and older guests and toddler guests and guests who hate seafood but aren’t quite vegan either, will all be catered for.

We chose wine from the George’s on-tap varieties. I had no idea this was a decision they made with both quality (barrels keeping the wine at the perfect temperature) and environment (no bottle wastage) in mind. The wine tasting event was a lovely, informal re-introduction to the bar area for us, led by Charlie, the bar manager. Our choices included a fabulous chenin blanc from Swartland, South Africa. And, as we sat at the table near the bar, tasting and discussing, I began to quite like this re-introduction to the hotel’s surroundings. I could imagine coming back with friends to enjoy this space and having a good time together.

Our party was allocated the Long Room, with a table that can seat 30 comfortably and which we decorated ourselves. At night, the room lit with candles was intimate and gorgeous. Our party included course timings around speeches, songs and a bit of revelry. The George managed service impeccably around all of this activity; they remembered individual dietary requests; they even, thoughtfully, kept dishes warm if various parents had to step out to check on sleeping little ones. And yes, that menu we ordered worked out deliciously too.

Our one disappointment? Well, a Danish party’s success is partly judged by how late the party revelry goes on for- with a 2am – 3am end not that uncommon. But the George’s residential location means a strict Cinderella, not-after-midnight noise limitation. At 11:59pm: forfærdelig! (terrible!) and our party came to a rather abrupt end.

The George. It is epochal to Rye. And beautiful. One of our littlest guests, Aya aged 5, described it “as simply the most beautiful hotel she had ever slept in”. Its interiors and its staff are new. Its offering to Rye locals of gorgeousness and a party destination is back. Different from three years ago, but I have to let some of those memories go. Because the new George just might become so much better than before.

Image Credits: Nick Forman , Abigail Cooper-Hansen .

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  1. It’s great to see Ryes no1 hotel now up and fully running, thanks to the owners and staff,who have made it happen,and brought this major attraction back on our high street., for all to savour.


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