Peter James: balancing my busy schedule, travelling the world and my favourite Sussex seafood restaurant

PUBLISHED: 15:02 01 June 2015 | UPDATED: 15:12 01 June 2015


Our new columnist, crime novelist Peter James, will be keeping us up-to-date on his restaurant preferences, travel recommendations, and everything relating to his famous detective, Roy Grace

I’m often asked how, with my constantly hectic travel schedule, I ever manage to write my books. I reply that I don’t think I could write them without it! Although I love writing at home, in Sussex or London, I’m often more productive in hotel rooms, or even when actually in transit. I finished my last Roy Grace novel on an overnight flight to Singapore, and my ghost story, The House On Cold Hill, in the back of a car between Oslo Airport and the Swedish border, en route to ice racing on a frozen lake. Travel both stimulates me gives me time to write away from the distractions of home.

This is the first of my columns for Sussex Life, a magazine I’ve always loved – and which features in most of my Roy Grace novels! I’ll be writing about hotels, restaurants, wine, and places – in Sussex, and elsewhere – that strike me as being, in the words of the fabled French Guide Michelin, “worthy of a detour” as well as any activities, Roy Grace related or otherwise, that I think you might enjoy reading about. So I’ll start with a snapshot of my year’s detours to date:

Lara and I spend the first two weeks of January at the stunningly good Viceroy Riviera Maya hotel in Mexico. I’m a big fan of the Four Seasons chain and the service here was even sharper – such as having our sunglasses cleaned every couple of hours on the beach! And in nearby Playa del Carmen, the Blue Lobster serves fabulous seafood in a fun setting. From there, we detoured to Amsterdam and dined in the brilliantly bizarre REM Eiland – a former oil rig that is now an informal and excellent restaurant. If your tastes are for more conventional locations, Casa di David in the old quarter, is a treasure. Proper Italian cooking and atmosphere.

My next detour was back to Oslo, this time promoting Roy Grace for my Norwegian publishers. It’s an utterly charming city, beautiful and walkable. We stayed in the Grand Hotel – which was recently deemed grand enough for Barack Obama. With the price of booze, you’ll find it hard to get a hangover in Norway! But not so back in England where I had massive one, courtesy of HRH Prince Philip, who hosted a very generous champers bash at Buck House in aid of Horsham-based charity Action Medical Research, which I support annually with the Peter James Golf Classic.

I took the entire cast of my play Dead Simple to dinner at English’s at the end of its Brighton week and the charming staff did us proud. It remains my favourite seafood restaurant in Sussex, hook, line and sinker. I also enjoyed Brighton’s 64 Degrees – terrific, inventive, tapas-style dining, but not a cosy enough place to linger. I’ve just also detoured back to an old favourite, after a 10 year gap, the friendly Griffin at Fletching, to find it happily unchanged and the roast beef as sublime as ever. And I’ve just returned to another old haunt, Bailiffscourt at Climping, to give an after-dinner speech. This glorious Lutyens building has a magical, romantic air, a superlative manager, as well as that must-have feature of any self-respecting hotel these days – a divine spa. Even the non-event of the non-eclipse of the sun the following morning failed to cast a shadow. And hey, it’s where Roy Grace and Cleo chose to spend their wedding night – and I’m reliably told they definitely found it worth the detour…


Peter donates his fee for this column to his charitable foundation supporting Sussex charities and this month’s fee will be given to the Brighton & Hove Samaritans.



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