The atmosphere of the smugglers’ inn remains at the Mermaid, which is one of the most famous and photographed of England’s ancient pubs. This venerable black and white timber-fronted building was a haunt of seafarers from the Cinque Port harbour. Its colourful history is reflected in ships’ timbers for beams, a vast inglenook where the infamous Hawkshurst gang warmed themselves, a hidden priest hole, and huge open fireplaces carved from French stone ballast dredged from Rye harbour. British and French-style food is served in the bar, restaurant and under sunshades on the patio. Perhaps choose local mussels, beetroot, apple and ginger risotto; followed by south coast cod in beer batter; traditional steak and kidney pudding; or the sea food platter. Superb wines, local Harvey’s beer and comfortable bedrooms complete the package.