Steve Pill samples the new Kip Hideaways subscription service with a visit to the historic Sussex town
The first impressions
Kip Hideaways is a new membership site that compiles quality self-catering rentals for couples and small groups. Set up by travel journalist Liz Simpson and marketing guru Sarah de Vere-Drummond, the website promises access to “small places with soul” in return for a small subscription fee (currently just £10 per annum).
Romantic Cottage Rye definitely fits that billing, a cute converted stable with just a single window and door at the front, situated in the heart of the historic East Sussex town of Rye.
Sadly, the location does come at a cost. One may struggle to find the “romance” sandwiched between a pub and a café, while the front (and only) door opens out on to a busy B road.
If Romantic Cottage Rye is a barometer for Kip Hideaways’ standards, you are in for a treat. The long, thin interior (basically a one-up, one down as the website cheerfully admits) is decked out in a tasteful, modern and stylish way, with a yellow, blue and grey colour scheme throughout. House plants and well-chosen artwork adds to the sense of a home from home.
The living room isn’t as cosy as one may hope for a romantic break, as it is essentially two high-backed yet comfy armchairs, though it suffices for busier guests to perch. The bedroom benefits from the high vaulted ceiling and a hugely comfortable bed. The bathroom is disappointingly small, however, little more than a toilet and shower in an oversized under-stairs cupboard. That said, it was as smart and well-appointed as the rest of the property.
You couldn’t ask for more from a holiday rental. Contact throughout was friendly, immediate and helpful from a distance, while leaving you to enjoy your stay. The cottage was superbly clean throughout and the kitchen fully stocked both with essentials (fresh milk, luxury soaps) and every utensil one could possibly want (with the high-end supermarket Jempson’s around the corner, cooking well here is enjoyable and easy).
Everywhere you look, there is the sense that your needs have been considered, with stair lights that come on with each step, and a Nespresso machine and a Roberts radio an added bonus. There are plenty of books on the shelves from local authors, as well as guides for things to do in Rye and beyond.
Though often called an underappreciated town, Rye was nicely busy with tourists during our stay. Just minutes from the cottage, the National Trust’s Lamb House is a highlight, a redbrick Georgian manor that was once the home of the American author Henry James. Around the corner lies Mermaid Street, the most photographed road in Rye, as a hotchpotch of ancient cottages tumble their way down a cobbled hill to the River Brede. The street is also home to the Mermaid Inn, a timber framed Tudor restaurant with rooms that remains beautifully atmospheric inside.
Just a short drive from Rye along the coast to the east lies the bracing Camber Sands beach and the Dungeness National Nature Reserve, while the historic town of Hastings – famed for the 1066 battle that began the Norman conquest of England – is just 12 miles in the opposite direction.
Your enjoyment of Romantic Cottage Rye largely comes down to expectations. If you go expecting the romantic break suggested by the name, the busy street and awkward lounge might disappoint. Head there with what it is in mind, however – a smart, stylish and thoughtful holiday rental in the midst of a desirable historic town that is a perfect base for a couple keen to explore – and you can be guaranteed a thoroughly enjoyable escape.