With the lockdown restrictions mainly ended, we decided to have a break away in Essex. A hotel previously visited had a special offer of three nights for the price of two, so we packed the car, and off we went. The journey has been covered in a previous article, overcoming the perils of planning for comfort stops.
Holland on Sea is a strange time-warp place. The main shops, restaurants, pubs, are concentrated in a half mile main street, which is almost a mile away from the seafront. There are various side roads connecting the two, mainly bungalows, or single storey dwellings. The prices of these homes is quite high, reflecting the desirability of the area. Pensioners are in the preponderance, younger generations congregate more in the Clacton area, which is only a couple of miles further south on the coast. This whole stretch of coast is a strange enclave, mainly smaller shops unless you drive to an out of town development. The only comparison I can make is with the Isle of Wight, only on mainland Britain, not quite a time warp but close.
We have stayed at the seafront situated Kingscliff Hotel twice before, found it more than agreeable, and the all-inclusive offer made the stay very attractive. It also included evening meal, more of this later. Our two rooms were adjacent, on the ground floor by request, overlooking the rear car park. When you check in, ensure that you register your vehicle as a guest, otherwise the charges and penalties are high. There is a simple to use touch screen, it must have been idiot proof because I mastered it first time without the assistance or guidance of any of my fellow travellers. They did watch me do it, though. Reception is at the end of the bar, which fronts the kitchen. the restaurant is forward-facing, large, airy, and more than adequate. The kitchen’s ability to cope is more problematic, because there is an outside terrace, as well as huge garden with lots of seating.
The first two evenings we booked for 7pm, but as a foursome found ourselves behind the pairs in the pecking order. Almost an hour and a half for the main course arrival was not an acceptable wait, so evening three we booked for 6pm, finally vacating closer to nine, satisfied this time. We pleasantly remonstrated night two, drinks were removed from our bill. Complaint well handled. But as far as the food itself was concerned, no complaints on the whole. Impossible to get it right every time for a restaurant with high cover numbers. They could also have done with some more waiting staff.
Breakfast was okay. If this seems like damned with faint praise, then it should be. The buffet didn’t include fruit, it wasn’t replenished so later eaters had no marmalade for example, a staple English breakfast ingredient. On the other hand, they had small Marmite pots, which made my male compatriot very happy. The poached eggs were delicious, but if you want a boiled egg, expect one to have been timed in excess of five minutes, and arriving in a cup more suitable coming from an ostrich. There were two, and my fingers went ‘ooh, ooh.’
Excellent bar choices, even including a fair selection of cocktails. Drinks prices were what you would expect, pricey but not high enough to be mouth-watering. There is a large side room used for afternoon cream teas, as well as functions. The first time we went there it was the dining and breakfast room, so they are utilising all their assets. The hotel is owned by the Surya Group, with fifteen hotels. These are mainly in the East Anglia area. They have no idea that I have written this review. Out of five stars, how many would I give for this stay? Between three and a half, and four. Very good for the price, but could have been better.
Harry Pope is a travel writer, proprietor of www.cruise-forum.com