Everything smells nice at the brand new Seven Hotel in Southend-on-Sea.
The carpets, the paintwork, the beef cooked over charcoal, the locals — all giving off a whiff of confidence, an air of success, a hope of even greater things to come.
And the outfits! Some people pigeonhole this part of Essex as being brash, brazen and with a take-it-or-leave-it attitude, and they are absolutely right.
Makeover: The Seven Hotel in Southend-on-Sea has undergone extensive renovations
The blonde woman at the table next to ours is wearing an outrageously tight red number with a plunging cleavage that makes Jennifer Lawrence’s Versace dress look prim.
There are bangles here, hair gel there; men in taut t-shirts with bulging muscles.
Women are in microscopic skirts, sparkly tops, hair extensions, false eyelashes; champagne corks are popping and willing staff want everything to be all right on the night. And it is.
After booking the cheapest room with no sea view, we ask on arrival if by chance there’s a room with a bath rather than just a shower.
Charming Anna (from the Ukraine with a hint of Basildon in her inflection) puts us in the ‘honeymoon suite’ on the fourth floor with double aspect windows and a balcony that looks out at the world’s longest pleasure pier.
There’s lots of gold (taps, legs of the bedside table, lights) which you might think a little excessive in sterile Dubai but it works just fine here because the general atmosphere is so upbeat, so infectiously full-on.
We’ve not booked a table in the restaurant and it’s chock-a-block, but Anna again works her magic. We’re not surprised.
The 37-bedroom hotel used to be a Jewish old people’s home. Now, after a £4 million investment, it’s the shiny pride of this quintessentially British seaside town.
Prices may rise but currently it’s good value, not least on the drinks front with wine from £18 a bottle and some 40 gins on offer.
The chef’s a local lad and so is the restaurant manager, who tells us that Southend is going to be the new Brighton. We hope he’s right.
7 Clifton Terrace
thesevenhotel.co.uk, 01702 900010
Doubles from £150, room-only