Wood pigeons coo, rabbits flash their scuts, and all is peace and old-fashioned comfort at Ockenden Manor, but the train journey from London takes under an hour. A Tudor house, with Victorian additions and tonnes of character, it has 28 bedrooms and suites, a strikingly cubist spa block, and a brilliant long-standing chef in Stephen Crane, who turns top Sussex produce into classic French cuisine with no pretensions.
Which room? Raymond, in all its cosy, oak-panelled, four-poster loveliness.
What to pack: Suitable apparel for the spa and its swim-through indoor/outdoor pools. Guests checking out in the morning can splash around until 4pm.
What to order: Scallops with smoked haddock from Boulogne, which Stephen says is the best that he’s found; home-smoked mackerel with oyster crackers and horseradish cream; lamb from the Goodwood Estate, which comes as belly, braised, saddle, crispy and falafel; and venison from Balcombe, where Stephen grew up.
Don’t miss: A pre-prandial glass of English sparkling wine in the drawing room. Ridgeview Estate’s fizz is made according to champenoise methods with classic grape varieties, just six miles away from Ockenden.
How to do it: Double rooms from £199, b&b (hshotels.co.uk).
Words: Sophie Dening
First published: September 2015