Cool Places - The best places to stay in the UK

The Best Places to Stay in the UK

Sussex

Just a short hop from the capital, and prime territory for day trips and weekend breaks, Sussex covers a huge area, ranging from hardcore commuter territory to some of southern Britain's most uniquely wild and scenic countryside. A large chunk of its visitors of course head straight for vibrant, artsy, up-for-it Brighton, but there's a great deal more to Sussex than this. It is actually two separate counties these days – East Sussex and West Sussex – over a quarter of which lies within the South Downs National Park, a beautiful landscape of rolling chalk downlands, wildflower meadows and sleepy villages – great territory for hiking and biking and all sorts of outdoor activities and home to some quintessentially bucolic English landscapes. The county's coastal strip is more developed, with some stretches a continuous ribbon of development where only the town signs indicate you've left one place and arrived in another, but even here you’ll find spectacular soaring white cliffs at the Seven Sisters County Park, beautiful estuarine creeks around Chichester Harbour and even a couple of sandy beaches at Camber Sands and West Wittering – though it has to be admitted, most Sussex beaches are of the pebbly variety. Add into this rich mix a handful of crumbling castles, some magnificent country estates and a couple of picture-perfect medieval towns (Rye being pick of the bunch), not to mention vineyards, corking country pubs and great local produce and you’ll see why Sussex deserves to be explored slowly and savoured. It's also got an unusually high quota of great places to stay, from idyllically sylvan campsites to achingly hip B&Bs, that make it far more than just day-trip territory. It's time to explore...

History

The Roman invasion of Britain began in the Southeast (the jury’s out whether  Emperor Claudius landed his troops in 43AD in Richborough in Kent or near Chichester in Sussex), and Roman remains can still be found throughout Sussex, most famously at Fishbourne Palace, the largest and best-preserved Roman dwelling in the country. After the Roman withdrawal, Anglo-Saxons kingdoms held sway until the momentous year of 1066, when William of Normandy defeated Harold at the Battle of Hastings. It was to be the last ever successful invasion of England, though over the centuries that followed Sussex would face other threats from across the Channel: from Napoleon in the early nineteenth century, and from Germany in World War Two – Hitler’s Operation Sea Lion identified Camber Sands, Winchelsea, Bexhill and Cuckmere Haven in Sussex as potential landing beaches. Meanwhile, the nineteenth century and the coming of the railway saw the Sussex coast take off as a holiday destination, nowhere more so than in royally-favoured Brighton. The Victorian age also saw the great gardens of the Sussex Weald established, planted with exotic specimens gathered at sometimes great peril in plant-hunting expeditions around the globe. In the second half of the twentieth century, the rise of the package holiday and cheap flights led to the inevitable decline of the seaside town, not just in Sussex but around the country, though Sussex’s seaside towns fared better than many – with Brighton in particular escaping relatively unscathed – and recent years have seen the seaside on the up again. The South Downs National Park was established in 2010; Sussex contains the lion’s share of it, with the remaining third in neighbouring Hampshire.

Housedean farm campsite sleep large large

Sussex

Just a short hop from the capital, yet far more than just day-trip territory.
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