Sybaritic living for escapists: this gracious Elizabethan manor in 1958 became the first country house hotel in southern England. That was in an era when the idea of taking a break in the depths of the countryside and enjoying country-house style levels of comfort was unheard of for those who didn’t possess their own rural retreat. It hides in a vast estate, amid lush, deep countryside: a rural idyll, if there ever was one. Closer to it are grounds created by the great William Robinson, a pioneer of naturalistic landscape garden design, who put his own highly distinctive stamp after he moved here in 1884. From then until his death in 1935 he was able to put into practice his influential design ideas. He rejected the standard Victorian ideas of parterres and dense bedding of hothouse-reared annuals and instead embraced a naturalistic layout, gardening with hardy plants and wild flowers, and practically invented the concept of the herbaceous border of perennials. Robinson used oak from the estate to panel the 17 individually styled rooms, which have been sensitively updated to combine character and comfort. The restaurant uses produce from the kitchen garden.
Gravetye Manor, Vowels Lane West Hoathly West Sussex RH19 4LJ
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