This fine 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 sixteenth-century coaching inn, is just the sort of place you want to retire to after a long tramp across the Downs, with plenty of candlelit cosy nooks, sagging beams and crackling log fires, plus a beer garden for sunny days. With four smart bedrooms upstairs, it also makes a great base: you’re right in the middle of the South Downs National Park (a 1.5-mile path climbs up to Ditchling Beacon, linking with the South Downs Way footpath), yet the bright lights of Brighton are just a fifteen-minute drive away. Rooms are both contemporary and eclectic: you’ll get iPod docking stations and modern bathrooms, but you’ll also find artefacts collected by the owners on their travels. ‘Indigo’ is probably the nicest room, with a gargantuan super-kingsize bed (for when kingsize just doesn’t cut it) and views over the Downs, though ‘Ruby’, with its beams and deep-red walls, comes a close second.

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