Sunday, 26 October 2008

The room at the back

The last bit of our building project is the back room....for want of a better description. The intention was to open a conservatory especially when we found the original glass ceiling (complete with some glass) in the original roof space.

Unfortunately, the building inspector had other ideas and we were told that we could not have a glass roof on the conservatory but had to have a slate roof instead. A conservatory with a slate roof is a new concept to me but I just do as I am told.

Anyway, our conservatory (with the slate roof) is proceeding at a pace and, as I write, I am waiting on the carpet to be laid and the light fittings to be finished. I am sure it will look spectacular as we have some excellent art and some interesting chandeliers.

The room will double up as a second dining room (for when we open the other bedrooms) and as a bar/lounge (because it is situated next door to the bar). We are still arguing over the furniture but what is new!

In the meantime I have to stop calling it a conservatory. The back room sounds a bit dismissive and the summer room does not fit the bill so if you have any good ideas then please let us know.

I’ll post some pictures as soon as it is completed.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Showers and sausages

Ten rooms open and we’re on schedule in terms of our building work with the conservatory as the only building work still outstanding....although this seems to be taking a lot longer than the three weeks promised! In the meantime, the good news is that we are now in the number one position on the tripadvisor website at

Comments include: “ Superbly located for all amenities, business and pleasure as well as the tennis!”, “The hotel has been tastefully decorated and the staff are very friendly.”, “The art display is fantastic and the previous reviews about the standard of breakfast are very well deserved.“, “The bed was huge and the most comfortable we've slept in.” and “The weather was good too."...although I take no credit for the latter.

Naturally, our feedback is not all positive and we have had a few adverse comments about our showers and our sausages. We have to put our hands up to the showers and say that they are not up our usual high standard. We have started a programme of replacing but at £1600 each it is a lot of outlay. Regarding the sausages, we are trialling a different supplier so watch this space.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Another two rooms

The final two rooms are now open for business completing the ten rooms which were planned for this financial year. On Friday 22 August we finally opened the Mary Beaney room and the John Miller room to the general public.

Room 207 is a superior double/twin room featuring the local artist Mary Beaney who works as our art director and whose excellent art work can be seen in our breakfast room. The room includes a large superking size bed (which can also be converted into a twin) and two leather tub chairs. The colour scheme (magenta) reflects her most recent work which has been included in the room.

Room 205 is a double ensuite room featuring the artist John Miller. His paintings (but not his name) had become known worldwide as a result of the mass production and distribution of cheap posters, prints and cards with reproductions of his distinctive beach paintings. The room is painted blue and has already received many favourable comments.

These rooms complete the second phase of our project and we now intend to take a break and try to recuperate some monies to open rooms on the third floor during 2009 – watch this space.

John Miller

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Two more rooms

Wednesday 13 August sees two more rooms opened at the da Vinci. Room 105 is a superior double room featuring the artist Joan Miro. This is the first room to include a fully refurbished bathroom so we now have a template for the rest of the rooms. Our first guests were most impressed with the decor, the comfortable bed and the tasteful furniture. The view from the window is nice too and you don’t need a pair of binoculars to see the sea.

Room 107 is an executive double/twin room featuring the local artist Elda Abramson - see The room includes a comfortable superking size bed (which can also be converted into a twin) as well as a sofa which converts to a sofabed. We persuaded Elda to part with some of her finest paintings which adorn the wall and complement the feature wall which is coloured ‘funky orange’ ....take my word for it that the whole lot works very well together.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

An apology from Buckingham Palace

I have just received a letter from Buckingham Palace....thanking me for the invite to the opening of the da Vinci and apologising for not responding earlier due to the high volume of correspondence.

The letter continues "Her Majesty was interested to read about your new concept da Vinci Art Hotel, and was grateful for your kind invitation to attend the opening on 30th May".

How nice.

The letter concludes by hoping that the opening was a successful and enjoyable occassion and wishing me "every success with the future of your business".

Of course, no one believes me when I tell them but I have the letter to prove it.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Number 51 on the list

I cannot believe that a month has passed since the opening of our first rooms at the da Vinci. The time has just flown past and I am embarrassed that I have not had the decency to update the blog and keep you informed about what is going on.

The art hotel idea has gone down very well and got us a lot of publicity. ....we even appeared in a travel article in the Sunday Times on June 15th. A two page spread followed in the ETC magazine and we had an excellent write up in the local art guide.

We have had our first review on and positive comments on but what is going on at tripadvisor? We are position number 51 (out of 51) in the hotel section while we await our first review....and there are some rough old dives above us on the list!!!!

In the meantime, Frank has swung into the routine of breakfasts at 8.00 and the comments about his full English are most complementary. Upstairs, work continues on our next four rooms which will be spectacular when they are finished - so watch this space.

That’s all for now but I have plenty more to talk about soon as I have cleared the content with my lawyer !

PS The tripadvisor address is

Friday, 30 May 2008

Opened at last

Friday morning and the hotel swings into it’s final preparation for the opening. Frank is sanding the kitchen ceiling, Heather is hoovering the carpets, Bob is fitting the front door knob, Micaela is preparing the food, Lesley is looking after the rooms, Mary is still hanging pictures, Trevor is fitting the last few electric points and Lorraine is putting the finishing touches to the curtains. Ady is painting the front and the window cleaners arrive and tell me that their pole isn't long enough.

Meanwhile the local florists are making a fortune as bouquet after bouquet arrives from well-wishers across the UK. The attention has been immense and we were delighted to receive the Mayor and Mayoress of Eastbourne as well as numerous people involved in the tourist industry including the travel writer from the Times who stayed for two nights with us.

Our first guests arrive and we escort then to their rooms. They love the colour scheme, they admire the paintings and they adore the minimalist style ....unfortunately , the furniture is still being assembled which is why the style is minimalist!!!

At 4.00pm on Friday 30 May, the da Vinci hotel is declared open. May we take this opportunity to thank everyone responsible for helping us to open as well as the hundreds of visitors to the exhibition and the sixteen guests who stayed in our rooms on our opening night.

We hope you will visit us again sometime soon.

The da Vinci art exhibition is open every Saturday and Sunday throughout June and July from 11.00am to 5.00pm when the artists will be in attendance. Visits at other times are more than welcome by arrangement.

Hotel bookings can be made via our website at or by email to or by telephone on 01323 727173

The final countdown 1

One day to go and the self assembly furniture is mostly assembled although some of those cupboard doors are definitely fitted back to front - how can that happen? The plugs are on the wall, the spotlights are on the ceiling and the bedding is on the beds and I am just beginning to think we might open on time when the rain returns and washes away the paint that had just been applied to the outside pillars.

Inside the hotel, the kitchen has undergone an amazing transformation with a new fireproofed ceiling which has still to be sanded and painted. The recurring damp patch in the breakfast room has been resolved and Lorraine is putting the finishing touched to the curtains in the kandinsky room. In the meantime, I am hanging paintings on every expanse of white wall and wondering when it will end.

The answer is at 2am when the last curtain track is fixed to the wall in the Klimt room and we breathe a sigh of relief that our guests will not be exposing themselves to the bypassers in Howard Square. Tomorrow is a busy day with not enough hours before 4pm and the arrival of the Mayor and the opening of the da Vinci Hotel - Eastbourne's first (and only) art hotel. The journey continues....

Sunday, 25 May 2008

The final countdown 2

Less than a week to the official opening and are still no sign that we will be ready for opening. The scaffolding is still up at the front and the roof in the kitchen looks a long way from completion. Meanwhile, the guest list for the opening seems to be growing by the minute and we have just found out that the Mayor will be making an appearance

Along with the response we also get a two page compilation of how to behave....
• The Mayor arrives at the time scheduled and it is usual for him/her to be received at the entrance of the venue by the host
• If people are seated it is usual for the host to arrange for the Mayor to be announced upon entering the venue
• When addressing a male Mayor the mode of address is “Mr Mayor”. When speaking directly to a female Mayor the mode of address is “Madam Mayor”.
• Speaking about or referring to the Mayor the usual form is “The Worshipful the Mayor”
• Please reserve a parking space for the Mayoral car as near to the reception entrance as possible.
• Please indicate arrival point (i.e. main entrance) and supply map of venue/local area.

etc, etc, etc.

Another special guest on the evening is Jim Davis who is the travel writer with the Times newspaper. Jim is visiting Eastbourne to write an article about the town and council thought it might be an idea for him to stay in one of our Eastbourne’s prestige hotels ....unfortunately they were all full so he is staying with us!!!

Time for some more self assembly .....

Thursday, 22 May 2008

The final countdown 3

Just over a week to the official opening and are we ready ....I should be so lucky. Four rooms are painted but it seems to be taking an eternity to self assemble wardrobes, drawers, tables and bedside lockers. Even my expertise as a mathematician does not allow me to decide which way those legs should go. In the end, I go with my intuition and find all the drawers are upside down.

In the meantime, we find ourselves in something of a room crisis as more people ask to stay over than we can accommodate here ...or at the Gladwyn which is already full. Foolishly, I decide to try to open two more single rooms in order to accommodate Tim and Norman. The ploy looks doomed to failure when we remove the old bedside lights and half the wall comes with it.

Tim and Norman are two of our regular and long standing guests who I would also classify as friends ....although I am not sure they will when they see the state of the rooms. They have both been guests at the Gladwyn for as long as I can remember and serve as a useful barometer for the changes we have instituted over time. I hope they like the new place.

Fortunately for us the Gladwyn continues to thrive under the new management of Trevor and Gary who seem to be getting more rave reviews on TripAdvisor and LateRooms than we ever did. Trevor’s breakfasts are well received and Gary is doing a grand job looking after the guests and making sure that the rooms are clean and tidy.

Time for some more self assembly .....

Sunday, 11 May 2008

20 days to go !!!

20 days to opening and the (four) rooms, beds, carpets, furniture and paintings are nearly ready this is one deadline we might even make. In the meantime, we would like to invite you and your friends to our latest art exhibition entitled “Unwrapped” .

This second exhibition is intended to celebrate the official opening of the da Vinci Hotel as Eastbourne’s premier ART hotel. The exhibition is open to the public from 11.00am each day from Saturday 31st May 2008.

We very much look forward to seeing you.

PS. My numbering system is quite simple really....the staircase on the number 9 side leads to the odd numbered rooms and the staircase on the number 10 side leads to the even numbered rooms.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

21 days to go !!

The opening date is set for the 30th of May. The original plan was to get eight rooms ready by then but it seems like we will be opening with four as the rest will not be ready. Eventually after much discussion (arguments) we have decided the themes and the colours for the rooms and the number system.

It may sound a bit odd but Paul has come with this brilliant idea of numbering all the rooms on the number 10 side of building as even numbers i.e. 102, 104, 106, 108 ... and all the rooms on the number 9 side as odd numbers i.e. 101, 103, 105, 107, ...but I cannot work out which are odds and which are evens!!!

Room 106 is the Monet room and is painted in Azure taken from the colour of sky in Monet's paintings. Room 108 is the Kandinsky room and is painted in Moroccan Red from Kandinsky's abstract paintings. On the second floor we have the Rothko room, painted Glowing Amber, and the Klimt room, being painted Deep Emerald.

The following pictures show (1) the back conservatory - which will probably not ready on the opening date, (2) the first landing painted in our signature colour, (3) the wall colour in the Kandinsky room and (4) the wall colour in the Monet room

Thursday, 17 April 2008

What a load of rubbish

Our work on the hotel continues to generate an amount of rubbish including that from the dislodged wall at the back of the hotel. It is a pity that most of the rubbish ends up in the back garden and, in spite of our desperate attempts to recycle, we have found ourselves having to hire a succession of skips at £250 a go.

Unfortunately, our attempts at refuse disposal are clearly not quick enough for one of our neighbours who decided to report us to the Environmental Health service...although on what grounds I am still not quite sure. Anyway, in a desperate attempt to remain good neighbours, we decided to hire an even bigger skip and were quoted a fee of £460.

Kingspan Waste Recycling tells me on their website (at that their “company strategy is to provide a 'no hassle' reliable service to all our customers”. Whilst I am happy to overlook the three occasions when they promised to turn up but did not bother, the extra £515 which they are now trying to charge me because my rubbish was too heavy is the last straw.

Monday, 31 March 2008

Eastbourne Art Festival

The exhibition continued over the following three weekends as part of the Eastbourne Art Festival and even we have to admit to being somewhat taken aback by the number of visitors who passed through our door. The visitors book confirms that most were very impressed by what they saw and a few of the many comments are detailed below:

“An exciting project – wishing you every success”, “Great exhibition and fantastic building – good luck with the hotel”, “Just what we need in Eastbourne. Brilliant”, “An art hotel – what a great idea” and “It’s great to have such an event in Eastbourne + the hotel sounds exciting”

Certainly the feedback (written and verbal) convinced us that our vision of an art hotel was entirely appropriate and my only concern now is how you manage to operate an art gallery in a hotel...or is it a hotel in an art gallery. Something to think of in the future because now the main priority is getting some rooms open and some income coming in.

Friday, 14 March 2008

What a difference a day makes

March 14th 2008 represents something of a milestone in terms of the project as this is the date when the hotel hosts its first art exhibition. The exhibition of work by various local artists is intended to be spread across our four public rooms but with one week to go I am beginning to think that Frank was correct when he said we would not be ready in time.

Our bedrooms have been put on hold as we focus all of our attention , all of our staff and all of our money in preparing the rooms for the big day. Four rooms to strip, prepare, wallpaper and repaint as well as picture rails in the middle rooms, two public toilets, a kitchen and the bar.... and no sign that the scaffolding is going to come down in time. The artists take the news better than I did.

With twenty four hours to go, the carpets are all down but we are still putting paint on the walls and desperately trying to remove it from the floor. On the morning of the exhibition we discover that the sofas are the wrong colour and the dining chairs do not assemble. The kitchen is in a state and the two public toilets are still being painted....and just when you think that nothing else could possibly go wrong .... nothing else goes wrong!!!

The exhibition opened promptly at 4.00pm for the viewing by artists, guests, friends, relatives and neighbours – we hope you enjoy these pictures.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Things can only get better

They say that time speeds up when you are enjoying yourself but let me tell you that it goes pretty fast when you are not. A few weeks ago the public areas in the hotel looked quite presentable but now the place looks like a building site and I wonder whether I should start insisting that we all wear hard hats.

Frank assures me that the additional work will all be worthwhile in the long run but I am not sure we have enough of a long run if we are to open on time.

The work continues and, to date, we have:

• stripped the wallpaper and most of the walls
• stripped the wallpaper and replastered the hallway
• refurbished the bar area and installed new lighting
• gutted the kitchen and replaced the floor and walls
• gutted the back room and strengthened the rear wall
• rewired the whole of the ground floor ….thank you Trevor
• got the central heating working (but only in the basement)
• sorted out the hot water supply (but not to the top floor)
• installed four toilets to serve the public areas
• removed four toilets
• installed a state of the art fire alarm system
• cabled in the new CCTV system
• removed the old fire system and the unsightly trunking
• replastered the walls on each of the landings
• condemned two bathrooms (but not due to open in phase 1)
• nearly finished restoring the sash windows
• replaced the TV aerial and wired the rooms at the front of the hotel

The hotel continues to throw up lots of surprises such as the glass roof above the false ceiling in the back room which had to go as it was in danger of falling on top of our guests.

Then the newly installed toilets had to be removed when we discovered the condition of the floorboards underneath. Leaking water seems to be a regular occurrence and just as you sort one leak out then up pops another.

As if that isn’t enough for this update, one of our neighbours decided to report us to the Environmental Health department for putting our rubbish in the back garden and my solicitor wrote to remind me that I had not yet paid the stamp duty and could I forward £26000 at my earliest possible convenience.

Surely, things can only get better?

Saturday, 26 January 2008

What happened to the New Year

I cannot believe that it is nearly the end of January and the clock is ticking away the minutes until our opening in March. The repainting at the front of the hotel is now proceeding rather slowly and I am wondering why the scaffolders are not demanding the scaffolding as we have had it for so long.

The situation at the rear of the hotel goes from bad to worse as we now discover that the room at the back used to a conservatory fact the old glass is still still visible under the leaking roof. More expense as we now have to remove the old and broken glass and then replace the leaking roof.

Then we have the sagging floor, rotten windows, damp rooms, leaking showers, missing floorboards, faulty guttering and a heating system which defies everybodies efforts to get it up and running. The kitchen isn't arriving till late February and our contractors have now all gone on holiday.

In the meantime, our TV aerial has given up the ghost and the quote for replacing the aerial and running cables to all rooms came to £3000 + VAT. To add insult to injury, we also received a letter from TV licensing informing us that we were liable to prosecution and a fine of up to £1000 for not having a TV license.

Surprisingly, we are all still determined to meet the opening deadline and we have even drafted in a few extra friends to help us - thank you Trevor and Gary. If you fancy a decorating weekend then you are more than welcome to join us too.

No more pictures as they all look exactly the same as the last ones!!!