A stunningly decorated ancient barn, wrapped in the rolling green hills of South Downs National Park
You’ll be drawn to this 400-year-old barn because of its characterful stone walls and quirky interiors, but when you stay it’s the setting that will completely blow you away. South Downs National Park is a glorious wave of grassy-topped hills, golden hay fields and chalky clifftops that stretches for over 100 miles – and this hideaway is right in the middle of it. Walk out of the front door and you’re already on a footpath with breathtaking panoramas. Sit in the peaceful garden and you’ll hear woodpeckers and nightingales – and not a lot else.
As for the barn itself, we’d never have guessed that exotic Indian cushions, Scandi sheepskins, Moroccan lamps and traditional flint walls could blend together so beautifully. The owner has a remarkable eye for design, and after years running a local B&B she’s nailed exactly what guests need for a perfect stay. A breakfast hamper with fresh juices, jams and golden pastries. Tips on her favourite pubs and restaurants. And masses of space all to yourselves.
Getting there: drive or train to Polgate then taxi (10 mins).
- Wander straight out onto footpaths through South Downs National Park, where you’ll find ancient woodlands and river valleys. Break for lunch at the brilliant Beanstalk Café.
- One side of the park is fringed by the dramatic chalky Severn Sisters coastline, which includes Beachy Head, Britain’s highest chalk cliff.
- In spring, walk through carpets of white wood anemones and English bluebells in the Arlington Oak woodlands. The Bluebell Farmhouse Kitchen runs cookery classes.
- Dine in the walled garden at The Ram Inn in Firle; their prawns and mackerel come fresh from Shoreham, and wild strawberries and mushrooms are picked in South Downs National Park.
- Day trip to historic Lewes, whose medieval streets are lined with bookshops, boho cafes, independent boutiques and cool antique shops. There are great views from the magnificent Castle, which dates back to Norman times.
- Or zip to Eastbourne (20 mins, a traditional seaside town with colourful beach huts and the award-winning Towner Gallery), and Brighton (30 mins, hip shopping in The Lanes).
- Walk to The Ox for a pint of local ale (2.5 miles)