A grand architectural gesture with great views across golden Camber Sands, with nautical touches and an award-winning dune garden. Sunset cocktails mandatory
Camber Sands is swiftly changing its image – once associated with low-rent holiday parks, its seafront is now becoming populated by some powerful contemporary architecture, of which Sea Gem is the latest and most modern. Architects HazleMcCormackYoung have created something that might look more at home in Miami (0r possibly affluent Sandbanks in Dorset): a timber and glass beast that is part cruise liner – with its multi-level decks, crisp render, gleaming white spiral staircase and even the odd porthole – and part comfy contemporary home.
Naturally everything is geared towards the view – Camber Sands boasts two-and-a-half miles of golden beach, backed by shifting sand dunes, and the house makes the most of an ever-changing vista. The ground-floor deck is particularly successful: it nestles in the crux of the two giant wings, so it feels sheltered, with folding sliding doors that open right up to unify the deck with the sitting room within. If you can’t picture yourself sashaying around here with a sundowner, there’s something wrong with you.
The interiors (by designer Caroline Robinson) have a red, white, navy and pale blue colour scheme that reminds me of naval signal flags, and there are other nautical touches, like a old ship’s funnel used as a kindling store. Garden designer Jo Thompson has perfectly linked the smart house and the sandy beach, with an award-winning dune garden that includes a long, lazy curve of seating in gleaming white render, and a sunken barbecue pit.
Sea Gem is not just available for rent as a holiday home, but as a location house for stills and filming too. Maybe all those art directors will think again about doing their bikini shoots in Cape Town or Miami, and come to Camber Sands instead…
Nearby: A peach of a beach, right in front of your eyes; the cinq ports town of Rye, full of great vintage/bric a brac shops and a couple of nice pubs (recommended is the Ypres Castle Inn, in the shadow of the castle); Hastings, 35 minutes on the train from Rye, which has an important new arts venue in the Jerwood Gallery; a little further along the coast, Bexhill on Sea, with its fabulous Art Deco De La Warr Pavilion; walking in 1066 Country