Mercure Hythe Imperial Hotel and Spa - review
PUBLISHED: 16:08 27 July 2010 | UPDATED: 16:00 20 February 2013
If you are visiting the Kent coast this summer, take a break at this comfortable hotel dating from 1880, where the food is carefully prepared from excellent local ingredients and there's a real sense of old world charm
The Imperial is one of my 'locals' and therefore I feel totally partisan in writing this review. There is a real old world charm about the large bar and lounge and here you can enjoy an aperitif in comfort before entering the refurbished restaurant, where we were given a warm welcome by food and bar manager Simon McGhie, who has worked here for nearly 20 years.
The hotel was built in 1880 originally and called The Seabrook. Requisitioned during the Second World War, W.J. Marston bought it in 1947, the first of what would become Marston Hotels. The Imperial has been sold on a couple of times, but now belongs to GSE Ltd, a local company that has brought in Mercure to manage.
The restaurant can take up to 120 in three areas, the main area being The Prince's Restaurant. Exciting plans are afoot to create a modern new restaurant and bar area at a higher level to take full advantage of the magnificent position of the hotel, right on the seafront. But for the moment you can eat in this large yet informal restaurant, with carefully set places and good linen. It's comfortable in an old-fashioned sort of way, and jazz music plays gently in the background.
The restaurant takes advantage of local fruit and vegetable suppliers, Crunden, in Hythe High Street, and the famous Grigg's for fish. Meat comes from Cooper's at Aldington, with game both from here and Grigg's.
Wines are supplied by Bibbendum, who provide a good selection, including New World wines, a Grand Vin selection, for those who would like a more selective tipple and English wines from Chapel Down. We were recommended and enjoyed a Sauvignon and a very good Rioja.
Chatting to Simon, we learnt that the pattern of catering in the hotel can be quite complicated, as residents might choose just bed and breakfast and decide at the last moment to dine. However, the Imperial has many return clients, with one guest coming here for Christmas since 1951!
For our dinner, we chose seared wild mushroom with parmesan and rocket, and the sweet cured salmon.
My companion commented that his was "very, very good" and I enjoyed the lightness of the salmon with its soused cucumber, tomato and ginger consomm. For mains, we opted for pan-fried chicken breast, creamed potatoes, stilton and bacon creamed leeks with truffle oil, and the marinated rump of lamb with black olive ratatouille, goat's cheese and white bean cream.
Now I prefer my ratatouille heavy with olive oil and redolent of the Mediterranean, but the lamb was cooked to absolute perfection.
My crme brule was delightful and my companion enjoyed his rose water and saffron panacotta with the raspberry coulis. Diners at the next table put down knife and fork and commented what a first-class meal they had just had.
The aim at The Imperial is to create a bridge with the people of Hythe, to encourage locals to come and enjoy the food and "a little bit of the 1880s, which are still here", smiled Simon.
Certainly the restaurant rejoices in cordial and competent waiting staff and the food is of a good standard. Open to non-residents, this is an
ideal place to eat if you are out on an excursion to the area.
Mercure Hythe Imperial Hotel and Spa
Prince's Parade, Hythe CT21 6AE
Tel: 01303 267441