B&B review: The Old Rectory, Hastings, East Sussex

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It is five years since I stayed at the Swan House B&B, a 15th-century cocoon in the medieval streets of Hastings' Old Town. Assiduously run by Brendan McDonagh, it charmed me with its interior by designer Lionel Copley – painted floors and trompe l'oeil, pure white bedding and Seventies textiles, a tumultuously planted terrace and a restful sitting room.

Now it has a sister property, from the same team, with the addition of manager, Shaun, who also happens to be a sculptor, and kitchen staff.

I fancy The Old Rectory is more in-yer-face than the demure Swan House. Its rambling nine-bedroomed proportions sit behind a Victorian facade on a main road. Guests have the run of the ground floor: an entrance hall moonlighting as reception and computer room, sitting room so large a whopping fireplace almost plays second fiddle to abstract art, plus a dining room enveloped in painted flowers where the ebullient Shaun holds a Thursday supper club and serves light meals for late Friday arrivals along with a mouth-watering breakfast menu which starts with a smoothie and ends in weight gain.

"Do you smoke?" he asks, when we reach a half landing on the stairs. Not any more. "Well if you start again, that's where you do it," he says, waving at a door to a terrace. They have a wedding licence for the house and a gazebo outside. The garden can hold up to 80 guests, and when daylight reveals the walled and terraced expanse next morning, despite not looking its best in February, I imagine there can hardly be another like it in town.

"All Saints" it says on my door, in swirly script. This is a suite, two bedrooms, connected by a hallway to a shower room and separate bathroom with clawfoot bath and marbled, scallop-edged panels painted on the walls. Popular with friends and families?

"Children over 10," says Shaun, his original open-arms approach scuppered by a run of three families who had lost the art of consideration for others. The final straw, he tells me, being when two parents let the kids run up and down the suite's hall hollering while they stayed put downstairs. "Another couple said the grandparents were babysitting their children especially so they could have a quiet weekend away. So I thought, 'right, that's it'."

My bedroom is understated, just a rustic bench, sumptuous bed and heavy drapes. In the bathroom toiletries are decanted into rose-tinted glass.

Just in case you think I am wearing glasses of similar hue, I make a list headed "room for improvement": hook(s) needed in shower for bathrobe/towel and shower gel; no, no, no to UHT milk on tea tray; front bedrooms prone to traffic noise; prefer garden view.

Of the two B&Bs, this is bigger, grander and blurs the lines between B&B and hotel. Like real siblings, they are similar – yet completely different – but if you like one you really cannot fail to like the other.

sally.shalam@guardian.co.uk, sallyshalamsbritain.co.uk

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