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Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa, Sussex: Suite Dreams

Escape to the country and spend a night in a 1930s manor, originally built for Lord and Lady Moyne of the Guinness brewing family

It had been a wintry drive from London: brown fields, bare trees, high, muddy hedgerows. But when we turned into the drive of the hotel in West Sussex, our spirits rose. There were swathes of green grass on either side, a pond, masses of snowdrops and here and there daffodils were beginning to peep through. In front of us lay a complex of medieval buildings and cottages, some in warm golden stone, others in mellow, beamed red brick. To the left a large, airy barn-like structure housed an ultra-modern spa and pool.

Bailiffscourt Hotel, with its walled garden, chapel and surrounding cottages resembles a medieval manor house, but was in fact the brainchild of Lord and Lady Moyne of the Guinness brewing family and was only completed in the early 1930s.

Situated in a quiet part of Sussex and close to the beach for sailing, Bailiffscourt became the perfect country retreat for the Moyne family. The buildings are a glorious mixture of ancient brick and salvaged doors, and in the case of its lovely Gate House, the whole building was moved to its current site from the nearby village of Loxwood. The place was converted into a hotel after the war.

The buildings are a glorious mixture of ancient brick and salvaged doors

Main House, the heart of the hotel, is a warren of passages and staircases off which sprout both cosy and large rooms that house a reception, lounges, dining rooms, a card room and a music room large enough for small weddings or intimate concerts. Upstairs are several suites, each with its own unique charm.

Scattered among the cottages are many other comfortable suites, each furnished to suit the size and shape of the rooms in contemporary, classic or medieval style.

We were delighted with ours, Baylies, which is the epitome of quirky luxury. Dominated by an inviting four-poster bed, the room is furnished with deep sofas in front of a wood-burning stove and, in the enormous bathroom, as well as an equally enormous shower and twin basins, there are twin baths, perfect for relaxing in with glasses of champagne. There are also plentiful treats and fluffy dog towels, which went down well with our young collie Gem, who was made to feel most welcome by the hotel. Only the resident peacock was less keen on making friends than she was – the bird was forced into flight for the first time in several years.

There are also plentiful treats and fluffy dog towels, which went down well with our young collie Gem, who was made to feel most welcome by the hotel.

The grounds are extensive, with pleasant level walks for gentle strolls through the woods, or you can take the five-minute path to Climping beach for a long, bracing tramp along the shingle. Like the hotel, the beach is dog-friendly all year round, which proves a great attraction for those who hate to leave their pets at home.

The spa at Bailiffscourt is splendid, with treatment rooms for all kinds of therapies. Clients come for yoga classes and to use the gym and tennis courts as well as the beautiful indoor and outdoor pools. I had the excellent ‘Mediterranean Marinade’ facial, which was so relaxing that I had to be prised off the bed and out into the spring sunshine for another walk. If you are staying at the hotel, it’s a good idea to book your preferred treatment in advance, as the spa is very popular.

Bailiffscourt is a great place for a peaceful break. Friendly and helpful staff do everything to make you feel at home. My only quibble is that the food isn’t quite up to the standard of the surroundings, but my husband didn’t complain when he chose the quail starter at dinner, which was to die for, and the perfectly cooked lamb. Plus, I very much enjoyed being offered a whisky to go with my breakfast porridge – a fine way to start any day in the British countryside. 

From £555, Climping Street, Climping, West Sussex, BN17 5RW, www.hshotels.co.uk