Not that we were real light house keepers, just honorary ones for the weekend to celebrate one of my oldest friend’s birthdays. Not oldest in terms of years either before she reads this (we are the same age give or take a few months) but oldest in terms of how long we have known each other.
We met when my parents ran a country pub and Emma and her family were new to the village. I was very much used to being the only Emma there at the time, but luckily we got along like a house on fire, and our friendship has endured many things, and many years. They say that in life you know who your true friends are when both time and distance come between you, but when you do see each other it’s like yesterday. That little saying has always applied to us thankfully, and our Belle Tout weekend was no exception despite not having seen each other for ages.
I was always jealous of The Fraggles and the lighthouse above their underground home, and a little later on I had a slight obsession with Round The Twist (still one of the best kids TV programmes in my opinion. One overly snowy afternoon in Andermatt, I subjected the Small People to quite a few episodes!) and the idea of living in such a strangely shaped building. Since then, I have always wanted to stay in one, so when Emma said she had booked a lighthouse for the weekend and would we like to go, what do you think I was going to say? Plus, travelling back from Munich wasn’t really a hardship when they had made the journey all the way from Hong Kong!
Belle Tout has a unique history, first built back in 1832 and perched high on a Beachy Head cliff top where it’s lantern could be seen twenty miles out to sea. Thanks to cliff erosion slightly diminishing its effectiveness, the lighthouse was decommissioned in 1902, until it was privately bought in the 1920’s. With war just around the corner it suffered badly thanks primarily to the Canadian Air force using it as target practice, but later having been restored, it went in and out of private ownership up until 1986 when it was bought by the BBC (who remembers Life and Loves of a She Devil? I have never seen it, but as it was filmed there, I am going to have to watch it now!).
Ten years later it was bought by a family who managed to move the entire lighthouse back almost 20 metres away from the ever disappearing cliff edge. Most recently in 2008 it was sold to the Shaw family who featured on “Build a New Life in the Country” with their complete restoration of the now iconic building. I will admit that I am not usually overly fond of these programmes and the people who often appear on them (is it just me or can they come across as smug?). More often than not I find myself getting annoyed at what I would have done differently too, but this particular episode (a DVD of which is available to watch in each room should you happen to be lazing about like me!) was completely different. You can’t help but like The Shaws and their love and passion for a building that very nearly bankrupted them. I am happy to say the end result is just stunning!
Nowadays it’s primarily run as a B&B. You can book one of the six rooms in advance and use the lighthouse as a base for fantastic walks, socialising with other guests, and having the most amazing breakfasts cooked for you of a morning. BUT, if you book it far enough in advance (at least a year should do it), you might just be able to book the entire place, and this is exactly what Emma did for a group of her closest friends to help her celebrate her special day.
Somehow, Mr R and I managed to be one of the first couples to turn up, so I had time to sneak in and take pictures of each room. All of which are equally popular (people often request the same one apparently!), and most of which have stunning views out to sea (as you might expect!).
By 6pm all 6 couples had arrived, rooms had been chosen, and after a brief sun-downer courtesy of the real lighthouse keeper Ian, (who not only runs the place magnificently, is probably the most courteous and relaxed in-house manager – plus he can cook a mean breakfast!), we headed to a nearby seaside pub for dinner (whilst breakfast is included and you are welcome to get take-aways (we recommend the great Thai in the village!), this isn’t a self-catering property so the kitchen is out-of-bounds for guests)…
Once we got back, the lantern room served as our gathering place to round off the day, as it did the next night too – perfect to either watch the sun go down, and/or watch it come up again…
This has to be one of the best private party rooms on the planet, and best of all apart from the odd nosey seagull, there are absolutely no neighbours so we could make as much noise as we liked!
And after a weekend of relaxing, catching up, chatting, laughing until our jaws and bellies ached, cliff top walking, and for the odd few of us being far too energetic and getting up at ridiculous o’clock to run along coastal paths (which is when I stayed in bed and watched the DVD!) and kayak the River Cuckmere… Then before we knew it, sadly it was time to pack up and say our goodbyes.
I would really really recommend this place as a grown up get away (children under 15 aren’t permitted), and have my heart set on going back in the middle of winter to watch a few ocean storms from the top! A place that thoroughly deserves its Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence badge, and that of the Good Hotel Guide. Book soon because how much longer this place can remain a “secret” only time will tell…
Thanks Em & G for such a perfect, happy, and completely memorable weekend. xx
Belle Tout Lighthouse, Beachy Head, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN20 oAE – email@example.com – Tel: 01323 423 185
Lisa from Lisa's Life says
What an awesome place to spend a weekend! Stunning :)
Thanks Lisa! (:
Elinor Hill aka Beachhutcook says
Just to think we are a little way around the coast! Great to have a sneak peak inside as only get to see it from the outside! Elinor x
If you can go for a weekend Elinor, I would really recommend it! :) Thank you x
This place is my idea of heaven. I am going to have to book mark this!
Thanks Laura! (:
Joanne Dewberry says
WOW! what stunning views! I keep meaning to take the children see Portland Bill another great children’s TV series.
Thanks Joanne! (:
Now I know why I have a passion for lighthouses. I loved Fraggles and Round the Twist too! I need to visit this one, it looks amazing.
It is fantastic Kizzy, I would really recommend a visit! :)
lisa prince says
woah you just would not have guessed how lovely it is in there at all form the outside , beautiful
It’s a real mish mash on the outside isn’t it? But on the inside, it just works! :)
Now this is somewhere I would love to stay with hubby and no kids – love somewhere a bit different. Looks like you had a good day for it
It’s a good hideaway! Thanks Kara! :)
I would love to stay in a Lighthouse , Cromer I believe you can stay in the lighthouse
Thanks Claire! :)
mama syder says
I’m sooo with you on ‘Round The Twist’ being one of the best ever kids shows! We all loved that show here at the syders. What an amazing place to stay. Such an experience. I love lighthouses x
Brilliant wasn’t it? Thanks Emma xx
Wow! Wow! Look at that view! How amazing! I want to go there now x
Thank you Sonia! (:
Mum of One says
SO stunning! I would love to see inside a lighthouse. What a special place to stay.
It was amazing! Thank you (:
JuggleMum, Nadine Hill says
The Lantern Room is stunning – what a great find!
Thank you. Definitely my favourite room of the house! :)
What a great place to stay in Emma! Would love to go there for a romantic getaway!
Thanks Otilia, I would really recommend it! (:
That sounds like an amazing place to stay and I didn’t even know it was possible to book into a lighthouse. I hope your friend enjoyed their special day – what a great idea to book the whole building.
Thanks so much J, it was a fantastic weekend, I think Emma enjoyed it! :D
Wow. I dont even know where to start with this, everything is just stunning x
Thanks so much! Would really recommend it! :)
Kate Williams says
Oh my days that looks amazing! Please invite me next time!!
Thanks Kate! :)
This hideaway looks and sounds amazing with your lovely photographs. x
You would love it Mum! xx
Oh, my goodness, absolutely stunning place and pictures, never realised these places could be let out!xx
Thanks Oana! :)
Wow wow wow! This place is amazing!
Thanks Gemma, it is isn’t it? :)
Wow, what a truly stunning place to stay! I feel like I now have to add “stay in a lighthouse” to my life list! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful B&B x
Thanks Michelle, I would really recommend it! :) x
Sarah Ebner says
It’s funny because I have read about this place before, and thought it would be wonderful to visit. Now I want to go even more. But I need to foist the children on someone first….
It is a really wonderful grown up stay Sarah! Thank you! :)
What a lovely story Emma *runs to book a room*
Susanna, I know you would love it! :)
So, so beautiful, and what a lovely place to get old friends together! I’m bookmarking this B&B…must take ourselves there sometime.
Oh, it seems they don’t allow children below 15 :(
Sadly not Pia, I can kind of understand why with all the steps, and the cliff edge, but I hope you get to go one day xx
Thank you Pia, it is beautiful, I think you and your camera would love it there! :) x
Woah, what an amazing place. Perfect for adult getaways. I think it would be the perfect place for a honeymoon
It really would be Jen. I think they get plenty of marriage proposals there too! :D
What an amazingly beautiful place to stay – it looks gorgeous and I’d love to have a grown up getaway there!
It is such a gorgeous place to stay Cass, I would really recommend it! :)
Michelle Twin Mum says
Ohh I am so jealous, this looks amazing and we drive past here all the time as Eastbourne is one of our closest towns. I think dh and I need a sneaky night away there! Mich x
Book it, book it, book it! :) x
Polka Dot Family says
I loved watching Round The Twist (have you ever, ever felt like this? when strange things happen are you going round the twist!) definitely one of the best children’s TV programmes from my youth. I love the look of the lantern room, I could happily sit there all day and just watch the world go by.
I did have that playing in my head quite a lot whilst we were there! :D Me too, it’s such a gorgeous room! :)
older mum in a muddle says
Wow. That place looks so amazing – that picture painting view, and it really did look like a painting. What a fantastic place to stay – and that view from the top as well. The sheer drop from Beachy Head made me feel a bit dizzy, not surprised younger children aren’t allowed. X
Some of those cliffs are incredibly high up. Can you believe some of our party saw a group of Italian kids sitting right on the edge, the very thought of it turns my stomach! Thanks S xx
This looks like an ideal adult setting! The cliffs are beautiful–Can you hike down to the ocean?
Thanks Brooke! You can in parts, although a lot of it is quite treacherous! Hope all is going well! :) x
Rachel @ The Ordinary Lovely says
Oh my goodness, it’s just perfect. Absolutely perfect. I’ve always wanted to stay in a lighthouse too. I was a huge Fraggle Rock fan. I think a Winter trip would be perfect. I’d quite like to hear the wind howl around it.
Wouldn’t that be amazing? I really want to go back in Winter! Thanks Rachel! :)