Stay Here: Roslin Beach Hotel, Thorpe Bay, Essex

This luxury coastal retreat near Southend, with its sunset views, is less than an hour from London

Where exactly is it? Thorpe Bay is a scenic half an hour’s amble along the seafront from Southend in the easterly direction of Shoeburyness (Thorpe Bay station itself is also within walking distance). You’ll be rewarded with the glorious Roslin Hotel, located opposite a vast expanse of sandy beach.

The exterior? It’s a series of weatherboard-clad buildings evoking a touch of Florida, underlined by well-kept landscaped front gardens, all tropical plants and palm trees (see below). There are extensive outdoor areas for drinking and dining, including a spacious terrace to gawp at boats bobbing in the water, or the sun setting over the sea.

Seafront tropical gardens at the Roslin. Photos: SE

The interior and vibes. An eclectic mix of luxury and regal, the striking bar and restaurant is inspired by “1920s glamour and classic coastal aesthetics”, says the blurb: think peach and ochre walls and furnishings, rattan chairs, crisp white tablecloths, deco lighting and detailing. Plus, of course, huge windows to survey the ocean, and the distant ships silhouetted on the horizon.

Roslin Beach
Sea-facing room with balcony. Photo: PR

What was good about the rooms? The best thing about our lovely sea-facing room were the two private verandas (see main pic, above), one leading off the spacious bedroom, the other off the cute living-room area: sun-traps by day, and atmospheric to star-gaze at night, these really exuded maximum holiday vibes. Comfy beds and sofas aside, inside calming pale turquoise walls were colourful artworks, outsize pots, a retro dial-up phone, and turntable, with old 1960s records to spin as you watch the blazing sunset. The marble bathroom had a luxury walk-in shower, too, and all manner of toiletries.

The dining room. Photo: PR

OK, let’s talk food. We booked an early evening table to watch the light change, and darkness descend over the coast. The menu pairs fish and seafood dishes with obligatory carnivorous plates. Starters were especially good: we shared thick slices of cured salmon tataki with cucumber gel, discs of radish, blobs of wasabi and a ponzu dressing; and a trio of Cromer crab cigarillos with a crisp winter salad of tart blood orange, fennel, pickled chilli, sorrel – and a cheeky teaspoon of caviar.

And the mains? Classic options abound, from local skate wing to cod loin. A sirloin was beautifully charred and rose-pink within, accompanying skinny fries; while seafood linguine was arguably tastier still, its rich tomato, basil and garlic sauce packed with mussels, king prawns and squid. There’s attention to detail throughout: even a side of purple sprouting broccoli was blobbed with lemon gel and sprinkled with crushed hazelnuts. We also shared a rich chocolate mousse desert with dulche de leche, amaretto crumb and perky espresso ice cream.

Roslin food
Delicate starters. Photo: SE

What’s the service and atmosphere like? It’s formal but efficient, as befits the nature of the hotel, while other diners comprised excited groups of friends celebrating, special-occasion couples clinking champagne flutes and the odd work coupling.

To drink? House wine is from £26; our French white was very drinkable. Glasses of red are from £7, while cocktails start at £10.

Sunset from the beach. Photo: SE

Breakfast? In true beach-resort style, the first meal of the day is served in a separate morning room: both a Full English, and a vegetarian home-made flatbread smothered with guacamole, fried halloumi, soft poached eggs, spinach, cherry tomatoes and little gem, were on point and substantial. Coffee was smooth, with the required kick. We were ready to go.

Breakfast on the terrace. Photo: PR

What can we do nearby? Five minutes’ walk away is a great little strip: there are two beachside tapas bars, Billy Hundreds and Ocean Beach, where, at the latter, we enjoyed sardines and croquettes at lunchtime – it really felt like we were in Spain. Opposite is a classy ice cream parlour, an independent bakery and Dog & Co, artisan coffee specialists we can recommend for a morning brew with the papers.

Ocean Beach
A little bit of Spain: Ocean Beach tapas. Photo: SE

Don’t miss: Why, Southend – the UK’s newest city – of course. Its pier is the longest of its kind in the world – a whopping 1.3 miles – and makes a spectacular 25-minute walk each way, or seven-minute train ride. The 40-year old diesel trains are to be replaced this summer with smart new electric ones, of which we had a sneak preview.

At the pier’s tip are various cafes and stalls, including the cute vintage tea room made famous by C4’s Jimmy and Jamie’s Friday Night Feast. It’s worth popping in here for good espresso, some deliciously moist carrot cake and a snoop at all the framed photos celebrating the show.

Southend Pier
Over a mile long. Photo: SE

Day trip: Old Leigh, the picturesque and ancient waterfront village and part of Leigh-on-Sea, is Southend’s most westerly tip. Read our separate guide to it here.

Summing up: As we sat on the train back to London, we couldn’t believe the journey was so quick: if the weather’s good, as it was on our visit, the Roslin Beach is the essence of a staycation, its surroundings positively Mediterranean. We’ll be back.

Find out more about taking a break in Essex here. Southend is around 45 minutes’ train journey from London. For prices and offers at the Roslin Beach Hotel see their website.

Main image: Stephen Emms. Accommodation was provided by the Roslin Beach Hotel and the trip was arranged with Visit Essex. 

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