The ethereal restaurant-cum-reception of Eastbourne’s latest lodge, Port, has blush pink partitions hung with native artwork above mid-century fashionable furnishings, and is full of the clatter of sharing plates being handed round. Sitting right here, I discover it arduous to think about how this boutique newcomer may provoke any controversy.But it did. Earlier than Port opened its doorways in Could, a neighborhood Fb web page was flooded with feedback. Residents argued in regards to the black facade standing out from the standard white seafront buildings. Was Port including a contact of contemporary design to the city and broadening its enchantment; or ruining the very essence of this grand seaside spot?Native artwork and pink partitions within the new Port HotelEastbourne’s transformation has been effervescent alongside quietly for some years. In 2009, its flagship artwork area, the Towner gallery, was upgraded to its present constructing: a spacious architectural feat, match for a rising hub that now holds one of many greatest collections on the south coast. Margate’s Turner Modern and the Tate in St Ives have proven how the visible arts generally is a catalyst for regenerating seaside cities, attracting new guests desirous to spend. Add to that demographic modifications (households priced out of close by Brighton have been shopping for right here, altering the city’s popularity as a retirement haven), and a pandemic prompting Brits to vacation at house, and it’s truthful to say Eastbourne is having a second.I start my journey at its first creative attraction, Beachy Head – the dramatic chalk headland the place the South Downs drop into the ocean. It has been attracting poets and painters to the city for hundreds of years, and today attracts walkers, cyclists and birdwatchers too. It’s drizzling once I arrive, and the wind is loud in my ears. Undeterred, ramblers trot alongside the cliff’s edge, weaving by way of timber bent sideways by wind and stopping to take selfies on the red-and-white lighthouse poking up from the water, or in opposition to the Seven Sisters cliffs additional west.The stroll from Beachy Head to Eastbourne takes roughly an hour, providing panoramic views of the city and the Downs. However we drive again into city, down the five-mile promenade lined with grand Victorian resorts; previous the bandstand, a classic marvel seating 1,600 (and, from 22 July, internet hosting night tribute reveals); and previous the place the spectacular pleasure pier juts out from the pebbly seashore, the gold dome of the pavilion (which hosted a nightclub till 2018) twinkling within the solar. The Port lodge’s black frontage prompted some native controversyFamilies collect across the amusement arcade, whereas teams of associates browse the road meals stalls on the parade. It’s busy sufficient for midweek, however I’m struck by how calm and spacious it feels. Eastbourne is greater than most arty seaside cities, however doesn’t appeal to the excessive, chaotic footfall of stag and hen dos like Brighton or Bournemouth. The sense that there’s room right here – bodily rooms for guests, and metaphorical room for improvement – is obvious.Which is strictly how Port got here to be. The brainchild of property developer Peter Cadwallader, the lodge goals to draw arty metropolis dwellers to the seaside – one thing he says was lacking from Eastbourne’s providing. “My hope is different resorts copy us,” he says.It’s concentrate on sustainability chimes with this: cork flooring, Religion in Nature merchandise, elements sourced from inside 30 miles, and room service run by way of WhatsApp. It has 19 rooms, 5 of which look seaward, together with the “condominium”, a luxurious suite with sea views from the tub. We keep in a normal “city” room. Compact and designed with minimalism and sustainability in thoughts – a clothes rail as a substitute of a wardrobe, milk accessible on request slightly than losing away within the fridge – it manages to slot in a desk, a Nespresso machine and a Netflix-ready TV with out feeling cramped.Bedrooms are minimalist and designed for sustainabilityClearly Port is doing one thing proper. The eating room is full after we tuck into our dinner of shared plates: highlights embrace barbecued mullet, its smokiness lower by way of with a pointy but candy crimson pepper salsa; and asparagus with capers and lemon preserves bringing a cleaning acidity. A dessert of almond and blood orange financier elegantly paired with a burwash rose cheese from Sussex’s Excessive Welad will likely be properly memorialised on Instagram, as will the brunch providing of duck royale – confit duck leg and egg served on a waffle – . The ocean-view drinks terrace is full, too, till the rain empties it. We’d slipped off earlier than dinner to Ranges, a bottle store and tasting room in a small row of charming vintage and craft outlets behind the seafront’s Grand Lodge, to pattern some crisp, apple-noted English glowing wine from the close by Rathfinny Property. Ranges is arguably misplaced right here, as a result of Eastbourne’s burgeoning unbiased ingesting scene centres on Little Chelsea, away from the ocean close to the station. Alongside its craft beer shops, Little Chelsea gives stylish espresso stops and curiosity outlets in spades. Guide lovers may simply disappear among the many cabinets at Camilla’s, an antiquarian and uncommon bookshop the place the tomes are piled excessive, and the Chelsea Antiques Emporium is a higgledy-piggeldy institute the place each merchandise has a narrative that workers like to inform (“time wasters welcome”, it says on the entrance door, a phrase that absolutely encapsulates the leisurely tempo of Eastbourne).Towner Eastbourne, with frontage by Lother Götz. {Photograph}: Marc Atkins/PANo journey could be full with no go to to its crown jewel, Towner artwork gallery. It’s a delicious dimension – sufficiently big to justify the journey, sufficiently small for guests to go away happy – and has pulled in big-name artists together with David Hockney. A present by lauded feminist collective the Guerilla Women has simply opened (till 18 July), and its rainbow frontage is a murals by German muralist Lother Götz.I spend a day immersed within the graphic artwork of Eric Ravilious’ – Eastbourne’s reply to Margate’s JMW Turner – and familiarising myself with Mariana Castillo Deball’s collection of archive works depicting the native panorama. White cliffs, turquoise waves, fields of inexperienced and yellow, proven in a thousand impressed methods space becoming reminder of the enduring enchantment of this a part of the nation.However now night is falling and I need to rush house. I take the scenic A-roads for so long as I can, savouring each final second of this idyllic pastoral. However quickly sufficient I need to say goodbye to the Downs, and to Eastbourne, a seaside city on the up. Lodging was supplied by Port Lodge, which has doubles from £107 B&B