The White Horses: Our Story

Rottingdean Windmill

Rottingdean and the White Horses

With a rich history dating back over 300 years, The White Horses is full of unique stories ready and waiting to be discovered. Originally known as the ‘King of Prussia’ in the 18th Century, the former coaching inn was an important landmark on the historic Dover Road, providing shelter, accommodation and a warm atmosphere for residents of Rottingdean and travellers alike.

And while ‘The White Horse’ (as it was known back then) was a popular place for community gatherings and Masonic meetings, it was also the regular haunt of smugglers—the wreckage of ships that had met an untimely end along the South Coast were famously auctioned here.

Smuggling was a common income for many residents in the area between the 17th and 18th Centuries; the high cliffs shielded Rottingdean from prying eyes, and a network of hidden tunnels helped to quickly move contraband inland. The famous Rottingdean Windmill also played a key part in these nefarious operations, signalling with its sails that the coast was clear.

For many years, ‘Smugglers Night’ was celebrated annually by the village, where locals dressed up and organised a lively procession through the streets.


Rottingdean's famous residents

The South Coast is rich in legends and lore, and this picturesque region has helped inspire many a creative mind. Famous English novelist Rudyard Kipling rented a home in Rottingdean between 1897 and 1902, writing many of his ‘Just So’ stories while living at The Elms, a handsome country house in Rottingdean.

Later, this corner of Englend became home to writers Leonard and Virginia Wolf, who took up residence at the 16th Century Monk’s House in the rich green countryside at Newhaven, several miles north of the village on the way to Lewes. From the calming atmosphere of her garden studio, Virigina Wolf penned some of her most influential pieces, including 'Jacob's Room', 'Mrs Dalloway', 'To The Lighthouse' and 'Orlando'.

Although this little corner of East Sussex is best known for its literary history, a prominent building in Rottingdean is famous for a very different reason; the former Tudor Close Hotel is said to have inspired the classic game, Cluedo.

The beer garden at the White Horses.

The White Horses from the 1930's onwards

In 1934, the hotel was demolished and rebuilt with an updated design to take full advantage of the looming tourist industry on the South Coast, once again taking pride of place on Rottingdean’s seafront. With its main building, bar, restaurant and rooms lovingly restored and refurbished in 2024 as the first addition to The Everly Hotel Collection, The White Horses looks out towards the sea once more, with uninterrupted views of the tumbling waves.

From our beautifully designed guest rooms to our sun-drenched terrace, our unique Discovery Bar to our spacious restaurant, the hotel is a homage to 1920s and 1930s interior design, blending coastal charm with polished features, brought up to date with contemporary facilities. Behind the bar and in the kitchen, classic drinks and dishes are given a modern touch, showcasing the very best products and ingredients from the UK and beyond.

Whether you’re planning a weekend away with your four-legged friend, an overnight stay in between business meetings or a well-deserved holiday for you and your loved ones, we’ll be waiting to welcome you.