Victory, pub, Kingsdown, Kent, stay, design, sauna, Swedish, couple, rooms, Channel, sea, beach
The Victory in Kingsdown (photo: Airbnb)

Swede opens ‘sauna hotel’ in English seaside

A Swedish woman and her English husband redesigned and now run two small but popular guesthouses.

A sauna and sunroom have been added to an ex-pub by the sea in southeast England by its Swedish owner, adding to the warm welcome for guests at a small coastal hideaway hotel, the Observer newspaper writes.

“For me, a sauna was always a must,” Stockholm-born Alex Bagner tells a journalist at the property, once a 19th-century fisherman’s pub. “It’s a bit of a DIY job, but it works.”

An ice-cold dip in the English Channel followed by a spell in the sauna can be experienced in the village of Kingsdown, where the Victory cottage sleeps up to 11 guests in four bedrooms.

“We do it all year round. People think we’re mad, but it’s starting to catch on.”

Alex and her husband Chris initially bought the Victory, which served its last pint in the 1950s, as a holiday home. A pub that is still open sits next door.

Airbnb helps
She describes how Airbnb has “dramatically” improved business, both for this and for the Rose, an eight-bedroom inn in the nearby town of Deal, which opened in May. The white cliffs of Dover are not far away.

They rearranged the building so that the pub garden is now a dining room and kitchen facing the beach, the former kitchen is now a TV room with fireplace and an aluminium-framed sunroom is above the dining room.

The Observer describes the Rose in Deal as “a handsome, three-storey building revived with rich colours, glowing velvets and locally sourced vintage furniture.” It’s proven popular with everyone from young families to hen parties.

“We both believed something was happening here and wanted to be part of that and, to some extent, spearhead it,” Bagner says.

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