Inside a Dickensian pub in one of England's prettiest towns

Higgledy-piggledy rooms and creaking wood floors: The Inspector calls at a Dickensian pub in one of England’s prettiest towns

  • The Inspector travels to Kent and breaks out his notebook for The George in Rye
  • The pub has 34 rooms and parts of the building date back to 1575
  • A fire closed the pub three years ago, but it’s risen from the ashes in style 

The fire that closed The George in Rye three years ago must have been traumatic for its owners. But perhaps even they would agree that what’s risen from the ashes is even better than what was there before, for this is an inspired revival of one of this historic town’s most elegant buildings, dating back, in parts, to 1575 but with a pretty Georgian frontage.

Inside, higgledy-piggledy doesn’t quite do justice to the warren of 34 rooms, some reached by their own little stairs or along narrow corridors. There’s even a ballroom (built in 1818 for farmers coming to market), with bow windows, de Gournay wallpaper, chandeliers and small minstrels’ gallery.

I’m struck by the original art and wood-panelled snug opposite reception, while the bar has a Dickensian feel: brass candlesticks, high-backed chairs, creaking wood floor. There’s a pretty courtyard at the rear of the building and a further sitting room on the first floor.

A fire closed The George in Rye (above) three years ago. ‘What’s risen from the ashes is even better than what was there before,’ declares the Inspector

The Inspector describes the pub’s refurbishment as ‘an inspired revival’

The picture above shows how the pub has made the most of its coastal location

It’s not overly busy and so I’m upgraded (without having to ask) and am led up to my room at the top of the house, where William Morris-style floral wallpaper covers both the walls and ceiling. A free-standing bath and separate shower await in the spacious bathroom.

The restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays — and it’s a Tuesday. But the receptionist hands me a flyer detailing various options nearby.

First, though, I have a drink in the bar. The guest before me has ordered a couple of cocktails, but the barmen can’t find any cocktail glasses.

‘Would a wine glass do, instead?’ he asks.

The Inspector’s room has William Morris-style floral wallpaper

Historical gem: Parts of The George in Rye date back to 1575 

Pictured is Mermaid Street in Rye, one of the prettiest towns in England

Something similar happens to me on returning from dinner. I order a cognac, but there are no suitable glasses. The barman suggests a tumbler; I steer him towards a sherry glass. Not brilliant.

Breakfast is a jolly affair, with an open kitchen and the most technically advanced coffee machine I’ve ever seen. It’s a tablet with various options on the screen. Press on any of them and your chosen coffee starts pouring from a nearby tap. Ingenious.

But The George as a whole exudes an innovative use of space and Rye is fortunate to have it at its heart.


The George In Rye, 98 High Street, Rye, East Sussex, TN31 7JT. Doubles from £143 B&B. For more information call 01797 222114 or visit


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