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 clam and orange chowder; or local charcuterie with pickles and toast; followed by south coast cod in beer batter; steak and frites; or the sea food platter. Superb wines, local Harvey’s beer and comfortable bedrooms complete the package.