B&B and Beyond: The Barn at Roundhurst, West Sussex
You'll be counting sheep at this cosseting retreat... and pigs, goats and hens too. However, a good night's sleep is guaranteed at the 17th-century farmhouse where five-star facilities come as standard.
Sunday 09 March 2014
At the end of a satisfyingly long drive off a tree-lined country road destined for Chichester, is this award winning 250-acre working organic farm where cows, bulls, sheep, pigs, hens, goats and an alpaca graze. Lower Roundhurst Farm is set towards the bottom of Blackdown in the South Downs National Park, so this is prize rambling terrain. The hub of this polished new breed of luxury B&B is a beautifully renovated threshing barn, whose 300-year-old oak beams were taken from surrounding woodland. A mezzanine library tempts you to choose a book, then collapse by the open fire on one of the leather sofas. Since opening six rooms in 2012, the barn has also upgraded to offering upmarket suppers in this communal space.
The proposition is more dinky luxury hotel than provincial guesthouse. Each of the three sizes of room is like a private fawn-toned cottage, where crisp linens, goosedown duvets, tartan throws, thick drapes and heated floors are on a par with a five-star. Thanks to hi-tech frills such iPod docks, flat-screen TV and DVD players, you're assured of the Barn's above-and-beyond hospitality. En-suite bathrooms indulge guests with a bath and power shower, fluffy robes and Gilchrist & Soames unguents.
Befitting the grandeur of the triple-height oak-trimmed setting is an enticing spread of cereals, juices, a rustic loaf and homemade jams. Say the word and they'll whip up a full English or pancakes. Bacon and sausages have a provenance that couldn't be closer to home. Get up early enough and you can even chose your own eggs from the house hens.
However, resisting the perfectly ripe fruit and just-baked muffins placed on your table may be a challenge. There's also a sizeable help-yourself pantry stocked with Tea Pig herbal infusions and a Nespresso machine, which helps keep guests perky between meals or until the excellent, seasonal four-course dinner, served at 8pm most nights.
Owners Moya and Richard Connell were newcomers to farming when they took over Lower Roundhurst a decade ago. Alongside championing sustainable farming, they are passionate about restoration. They spent a number of years lovingly creating this sophisticated stay with top-quality workmanship. Moya's arrangement of antiques, artworks and contemporary furnishings demonstrates impeccable taste. Moya welcomes visitors personally when she's there, but when she's travelling or tending to other projects, the high level of service is maintained by a friendly, professional team.
Petworth House The Weekend
Follow the official Blackdown walk from the market town of Haslemere through heathland and along Tennyson's Lane – named after the poet who spent time living in this area (haslemere.com). Blackdown is the highest point in West Sussex and delivers breath-nabbing views over The Weald.
The National Trust has preserved the Earl of Egremont's 17th-century Petworth House (01798 343929; nationaltrust.org.uk) and its sprawling gardens. The mansion has an impressive collection of landscapes by Turner, many of which portray this very countryside. It's a 25-minute drive south to the Goodwood Estate, with its racecourse and motoring thrills (01243 755055; goodwood.co.uk).
Noah's Ark Inn (01428 707346; noahsarkinn.co.uk) on Lurgashall's village green is the closest pub, a short drive away (or a 45-minute amble in summer). Witty British dishes such as cockle popcorn and a crumpet take on eggs Florentine are popular. Be sure to book, particularly if you fancy the table by the inglenook fireplace. In Petworth, pause for snacks or edible souvenirs at the Hungry Guest (01798 344564; thehungryguest.com); it is set out like a chic gallery worthy of cheese and charcuterie fetishists.
Lurgashall Winery (01428 707292; www.lurgashall.co.uk) is handy since the barn invites you to bring-your-own. That's if you're up for elderflower wine or English mead and you manage to catch the limited Thursday to Saturday afternoon opening hours.
The Barn at Roundhurst, Lower Roundhurst Farm, Jobsons Lane, Lurgashall, West Sussex GU27 3BY (01428 642535; thebarnatroundhurst.com). Doubles from £130, including breakfast.
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