Spotlight on Sussex: The Best Pubs to Eat, Drink and Stay the Night
From the beaches at Camber to the hills of the South Downs, the villages and towns of West and East Sussex have a magnificent range of brilliant pubs, from high-end restaurants with rooms to understated village boozers. Many you can stay the night in while others are best for a hearty lunch or just a pint at the bar. We've chosen a few of our favourites below, all featured in our brand new guidebook to the Best Pubs with Rooms in Britain.
This old hostelry lies on a crossroads at the centre of the lovely village of Ditchling, which straggles picturesquely at the foot of Ditchling Beacon, one of the highest points on the South Downs. The pub itself, a 16th-century coaching inn, is just the sort of place you want to retire to after a long tramp across the hills, with plenty of candlelit nooks, sagging beams and crackling log fires, plus a beer garden for sunny days; and it has its own eco-friendly brewery next door so you can be sure of a good pint of ale. The pub also has 6 contemporary and individually designed rooms, with super-comfy king-sized beds, Smart TVs, Roberts radios, minibars and crisp, modern bathrooms, plus there is a separate family suite with 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a huge Smart TV.
Occupying an almost impossibly desirable position overlooking Dial Post’s village green,The Crown Inn is a properly cosy country pub. Originally a 16th-century coaching inn, it was taken over 15 years ago by Penny and James Middleton Burn, who have launched it into the 21st century while relinquishing none of its innate pubby charm. It has a lovely beamed bar with stone floor and antique rugs, mismatched furniture, and a wood-burner squeezed into an ancient brick hearth. Penny and James have also developed a big and deserved reputation for the quality of their food, and also added four comfy and beautifully appointed rooms upstairs in case you want to stay over. And it’s dog friendly! As village boozers go, it’s hard to beat.
The country outpost of a Brighton-based pub group, and like its sister premises, emphasising local and seasonal food and drink, with Harveys beer and Ridgeview wine behind the bar, and local meat and fish on the menu. The pub itself is a picture-perfect thatch (topped by a thatched fox), with a lovely large garden. No rooms.
First and foremost, The Bell in Ticehurst is a great local village pub – cosy and comfortable, with plenty of beams and battered sofas, bare boards and faded rugs, open fires and candlelight, and an invitingly long, well-stocked bar. But what The Bell is perhaps best known for, in its own words, is its “hint of quirk” – bowler hat light fittings, coat hooks fashioned from cutlery, a tower of books forming a twisted column by the bar, a Banksy hanging in the hall, and, best of all, shiny tubas in place of urinals in the gents’ (sadly the ladies’ are nowhere near as much fun). Upstairs the 7 stylish bedrooms are equally eccentric, with rustic handmade beds with comfy mattresses, antique mirrors and weird bedside lamps; one has its own roof terrace; another – the ‘Love Nest’ – a copper bath in the room.They also have 4 garden lodge apartments, with mezzanine floors, huge baths and their own terraces, wood-burners and firepits. The food celebrates local produce, with small and large plates to share – anything from a decent burger to sea bream teriyaki – and good English wines.
This splendid countryside pub, tucked away in the South Downs National Park midway between Chichester and Midhurst, is a real winner. It serves its own beer for starters – the eponymous ‘Fox Goes Free’ – and has one of the loveliest pub gardens in Sussex, with tables set out under apple trees and a low stone wall at the end of the garden allowing uninterrupted views over Levin Down. Inside, it has bags of character, with well-worn stone floors, beams and inglenook fireplaces that roar into life in winter.The food is excellent, with everything made in-house, from the lip-smackingly good crunchy chips to the ice-cream. No rooms.
Just off a B-road, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, The White Horse in Chilgrove is a fantastic little country pub with rooms. There’s prime walking territory right outside the front door – laminated maps available on the bar will guide you on a 4.5-mile hike over the hills, through the woods and back to the cosy pub. But much of the action is centred around shooting parties on the nearby Goodwood Estate, so if you find yourself in the bar at the end of the day, expect to see men wearing military green trousers tucked into inordinately long socks, and flat caps galore. Even if shooting isn’t your bag, it’s worth coming here for the great hospitality, and dogs are naturally welcome and get a bed, bowl and blanket of their own. Bedrooms are modern and comfortable with faux-fur touches and funky décor, and some even come with hot tubs under a gazebo in their own private garden. All but 2 have direct access to the communal lawn, and the restaurant serves pub classics like fish and chips or game favourites such as local partridge and pheasant.