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Hotel Highlights

  • Brilliant location; perfect for exploring Sussex or attending Goodwood
  • Inn-style intimacy; pub-prices affordability
  • Well-appointed, comfortable rooms; ideal for a laid-back short break

Overview

With a prime location overlooking West Sussex's picturesque Pagham Harbour, The Crab & Lobster hotel is a classic 16th-century inn with understated good looks (including flagstone floors and fireplaces) and everything you could want from a stay in an old pub: warm and welcoming bar, overstuffed leather sofas, top-notch cuisine and comfortably elegant bedrooms.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking The Crab & Lobster with us:

A bottle of house wine on arrival

Facilities

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Need To Know

Rooms

Four; plus a self-contained cottage.

Check–out

11am; earliest check-in, 2pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $219.35 (£129), excluding tax at 20 per cent.

More details

Rates include breakfast. Two-night minimum stay at weekends. (Rates increase on bank holidays and during Goodwood events).

Also

Self-contained Crab cottage has two double rooms and can be booked for £220 a night Sunday to Thursday or £250 a night at weekends (add £30 a night for each guest after the first two).

At the hotel

Small garden, car park. In rooms, flatscreen TV, DVD/CD player iPod dock sound system, free WiFi and broadband internet connection, Ren bath products.

Our favourite rooms

Standard rooms 2 and 3 are smaller, but have large baths with rain-showers. The Deluxe rooms are slightly larger and have lovely views over Pagham Harbour; room 1 has a bath tub; up in the eaves, wooden-beamed room 4 has a walk-in shower (but may not be the best for beanpoles, thanks to its low ceilings).

Packing tips

Binoculars for birdspotting; vintage finery for Goodwood Revival; jelly shoes for walking along West Wittering's pebbly beach.

Also

Pets unfortunately cannot be accommodated. A three-night minimum stay applies during the Festival of Speed and the Goodwood Revival, as well as over Bank Holiday weekends.

Children

Children stay in parents' rooms for £30 a night; babysitting can be arranged with two weeks' notice (£10 an hour).

Food & Drink

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Hotel Restaurant

With flagstone floors and specials chalked on blackboards in trad-pub fashion, the Crab & Lobster's Modern British menu focuses on locally landed fish and locally reared meats. Look out for the Selsey crab and sardines caught on the south coast.

Hotel Bar

Perch with a pint on dark-leather stools at the polished-pine and brick bar, or cosy up with a bottle of wine in a pair of leather bucket chairs.

Last orders

The pub is open 11am–11pm; food is served 12–2.30pm and 6pm–9.30pm (9pm on Sundays).

Room service

None, but there are tea and coffee trays in rooms, and minifridges with complimentary mineral water and milk. Guests' breakfast is served in the main restaurant, 7.30am–9.45am weekdays; 8.30am–9.45am weekends and bank holidays.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Casual cable-knits and sailing clobber.

Top table

Snag a table by the inglenook fireplace.

Local Guide

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Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

You're spoilt for choice here; go for a lazy amble round Pagham Harbour, spotting fantastically named birds such as wigeon, ruff, godwits and knots (plus a few common or garden gulls). For a bit of fresh sea air, a short drive will get you to the shingly shores of Selsey and the Witterings, to Chichester Harbour, or little village harbours, including Bosham.

Goodwood Estate is only 20 minutes by car; as well as a year-round events programme (horse power of all kinds being a theme), there's a golf course and spa. Petrol heads and adrenalin junkies are also catered for, with flying lessons (+44 (0)1243 755066) and track days. Check out the Breakfast Club motor meetings on the first Sunday of the month from March to November, and follow up with a peek into the Duke of Richmond's Regency pile.

Local restaurants

Stop for lunch at the Smith-approved Royal Oak, a gastropub with cosy rooms and a kitchen that turns out sophisticated little plates – scallops with pork belly and sage, anyone? The Fox Goes Free at Charlton (+44 (0)1243 811461; www.thefoxgoesfree.com) is great for a pub lunch among locals; there’s a pretty garden, too. Both of these are a short drive away, as is Selsey, which has a clutch of perfectly good pubs and frill-free curry houses.

Local cafés

In nearby Bosham, have a wander round the village harbour and poke your nose into the Bosham Walk Art & Craft Centre, where you'll find The Captain's Table (+44 (0)1243 574554), a sweetly unassuming tea room, for warming cuppas and home-made cake or soup and savoury snacks:

+ Enlarge
Pagham Harbour bird sanctuary

The Crab & Lobster

Mill Lane, Sidlesham, West Sussex, Chichester PO20 7NB, United Kingdom

Planes

Southampton airport is 30 miles away and roughly 45 minutes by car and train. From here, you can grab a cab or collect your hire car.

Trains

Chichester station is a 20-minute drive from the hotel. Southern (www.southernrailway.com) runs a service directly from London Victoria in roughly an hour and a half.

Automobiles

The drive from Chichester shouldn't take more than 25 minutes along the A27. The A3 will get you to and from London.

Reviews

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Anonymous review

by Catherine Jones , Journeying journalist

‘We’re almost there,’ said Mr Smith, leaping back into the car after asking at a garage for directions to the Crab & Lobster. ‘It’s just a few minutes away’. We had only left the A27 and its comforting sodium-orange glow recently, but had quickly plunged into the inky black of a West Sussex night. Reaching the end of a wet, winding road, a stout, whitewashed…
Read more

The Crab & Lobster

Anonymous review by Catherine Jones, Journeying journalist

‘We’re almost there,’ said Mr Smith, leaping back into the car after asking at a garage for directions to the Crab & Lobster. ‘It’s just a few minutes away’. We had only left the A27 and its comforting sodium-orange glow recently, but had quickly plunged into the inky black of a West Sussex night. Reaching the end of a wet, winding road, a stout, whitewashed building appeared.

Even at night, the hotel has an end of the worldish feel to it. Beyond the car park, in the infinite night, was Pagham Harbour, a nature reserve, and beyond that the Channel. All that stood between us and the very edge of England was a 350-year-old inn, its ‘restaurant with rooms’ sign swinging in the night breeze. Taking the last remaining parking space, we headed inside, eager to begin the business of unwinding after a long day.

Walking through the door we are instantly in the middle of the packed dining room and feel, for a moment, terribly inappropriate. Like latecomers to a theatre. Diners look up briefly from their Crab & Lobster fish pies with cheddar mash, then return to their plates. The specials board distracts us for a moment with words such as ‘baked trout’ and ‘lemon posset’, and we remember how hungry we are. It’s just as well we’ve reserved a table.

We are staying in room one, directly above the restaurant. The hum of diners drifts up through the ancient floor as we unpack. There is something very Austen about this room, I decide. The old windows are the sort you’d look out to see Mr Darcy, if I weren’t with Mr Smith. Then there’s the walls’ Farrow and Ball blues and sages, the fresh cut flowers and exposed beams. Yes, we could indeed be Regency travellers, if it weren’t for the flatscreen TV and sound system. Mr Smith gets very excited about the iPod docking station before realising he’s forgotten to bring the iPod.

Dinner gets off to a flying start with salmon parcels, stuffed with crab and crayfish, topped with caviar. The menu here is seafood-centric – as one would expect from an inn with both ‘crab’ and ‘lobster’ in its name – and there is a decent wine list. But, alas, just one flavour of sorbet (orange) is available tonight.

Full and drowsy we trudge up the stairs to bed, far too sleepy to choose a DVD to watch – tomorrow perhaps. Tonight is about the luxury of sleeping in an utterly dark, utterly silent place. Undisturbed by the wailing rubbish vans, police cars and juddering night buses of the city, we drift off dreaming dreams so vivid we both remember every single detail the next morning. On waking, we finally get to see West Sussex by day. Outside is a Miss Marpleish lane, a smart house opposite. Beyond, lies Pagham Harbour and an endless sky.

Breakfast is another fishy affair, with smoked salmon and scrambled egg on English muffins. Mr Smith can’t resist the full English and its locally sourced ingredients. A history of the inn and the harbour hangs on the thick stone wall behind us. Back in the 600s, when the harbour was still called by its Saxon name, Udring Hven, some unfortunate invading Danes were hacked to death in what’s now the car park for refusing to convert to Christianity, it informed us. Centuries later, soldiers heading for Agincourt stayed here on their last night before leaving for France. During the Civil War the royalist Lieutenant Governor and his two nephews met a sticky end just outside the inn’s front door when the area fell to the roundheads. For a barely there spot at the end of the world, this place has seen its share of the action, we think, as we head out on a hopefully-less-eventful walk to the shore.

This is a timeless place. The skyline virtually unchanged since Mr & Mrs Saxon first arrived here, dispatched the Romans and set up house more than a millennum beforehand. This is strangely comforting. We breathe in the fresh, ozone-flavoured air of the south coast and promptly forget about the Danish invaders.

The hides along the edge of Pagham Harbour hint at this place’s ornithological importance. The binoculars in our room, and a kindly lady twitcher, help us spot cormorants, grey plovers and other twig-legged species stepping delicately through the mudflats.

Any weekend here will have a Famous Five sort of wholesomeness about it, we decide, as we crunch along the shingle beach picking up shells. In addition to glorious walks, favourite things to do here are sail and birdwatch. Then head to any one of the Midsomerish towns and villages – The Witterings, Bosham, Midhurst or Chichester – for tea and scones. Goodwood is close by, too. We stop at its farm shop and stock up on interesting jams and exotic pickles.

With the sky turning a rich purple, we return to the Crab & Lobster for a leisurely soak with L’Occitane bath products. We then make our way back down to the restaurant. Yesterday, the gentleman at the table behind us had a rather lovely selection of English cheeses and we are determined to end this meal with a plate of our own. The mood tonight is boisterous, happy. There seems to be a real fondness for this inn at the end of the world, but tonight it feels as though it is at the centre of it.

The Guestbook

Reviews of The Crab & Lobster from Smith members

Whenever you book a stay through us, we’ll invite you to comment when you get back. Read the Guestbook entries below to see what real-life Mr & Mrs Smiths have said about this hotel…

SilverSmith

Stayed on

We loved

It is a lovely building in a fabulous setting. The room is very comfortable and really nice and quiet!

Don’t expect

The dinner wasn't that great - but breakfast was very good.

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Another return visit and always a pleasurable experience. The hotel has a good atmosphere, peaceful and tranquil; the staff is attentive and always gives good service. I enjoyed the good quality of food and drink, and the early morning sun coming up over the harbour is a beautiful sight. It was good to go for a walk around the harbour area, too – again, very peaceful. When we checked out at the end of our stay, we drove around and then came back to the hotel for a final lunch – it's difficult to get away!

Don’t expect

The parking was fairly limited, but this was not an issue.

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I liked the lovely room, friendly and welcoming staff, cleanliness and excellent food, all in a lovely environment.

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I liked the excellent accommodation and food. The staff was friendly and most helpful. I would recommend it to anyone.

Don’t expect

The TV was located high on the wall in an alcove and was not visible from the location of the sofa.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The food in the restaurant is absolutely fantastic: very imaginative, with beautiful combinations of flavours, partnered with an excellent wine list. The restaurant was busy every evening but as residents we were always guaranteed a table. The staff was all very efficient and friendly, nothing was too much trouble. Our room was very comfortable, and so quiet that we slept late each morning – but no matter, as the delicious breakfasts are served till 10.30am. All very civilised, and perfect for the relaxing break we were looking for. Although only a short drive from Chichester and Portsmouth, where we took the opportunity to visit the new Mary Rose Museum, the pub is also perfectly situated for exploring the quiet unspoilt coast around Pagham Harbour, and the extensive beaches around West Wittering. We will certainly be going back for more!

Don’t expect

We had only one small quibble with our room, which had very limited drawer space. An additional small chest of drawers would have allowed us to unpack properly and feel even more at home.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Excellent food, both the breakfasts and the dinners (we were out at lunchtimes). Great room, although Room 1 room hears Room 4's residents walking about above (I expect this in an old place though). Great setting; friendly staff. We would go again.

Don’t expect

Serve some peas with fish and chips if they're wanted (included in the price). Perhaps some more local info in the desk folder in the room would be good.

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I liked the remote nature of the venue. It was very relaxed and the staff were attentive. The food was beautiful and the beer garden was a real added bonus; it felt like we were hidden away from the world.

Don’t expect

Nothing leaps out; a very nice spot!

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The food was amazing. I breakfasted on smoked haddock and poached eggs, which was delicious. For dinner I chose stone bass on seaweed tagliatelle. Scrumptious! The room was up in the eaves with views over Pagham Harbour. It would have been better in the sun but it was a very calmimg view. The bedroom was fairly spacious and there was a large bathroom. The details were good. Nice coffee and a cafetiere instead of the ubiquitous Nescafé sachets. An iPod dock and free WiFi. Comfy bed.

Don’t expect

Our room had a sloping ceiling which could be difficult if you are very tall. Wardrobe storage was insufficient for more than a night and there was no other storage for clothes. Waitress forgot to bring our coffee after dinner, but at least didn't put it on the bill.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

This is the second time we have stayed in this hotel and it still holds a great attraction. The accommodation is modern and spacious – the fresh white flowers in the room are a nice touch. Our main reason for staying here is the wonderful food and wine, and on this occasion there was a good selection of game as well as some superb fish. The staff were attentive and particularly friendly and took care of our every need. The place is always busy despite its location and it appears to be frequented by lots of locals.

 

Don’t expect

For us, nothing.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

This is a dear little place. Unpretentious and relaxed - but with great attention to detail. So good to have fresh milk in the room for making tea, plus all mod cons for iPod etc. The food was superb and cleverly presented; fresh haddock was lightly battered and the chips delivered in a little metal tin. Breakfast is another highlight - bacon like we've never tasted. The location is outstanding and our room looked out over the marshes which looked spectacular at high tide.

Rating: 9/10 stars