Hotel Of The Week: Royal Oak, West Sussex

What are the highlights of a weekend in the country? Beautiful surroundings? Good walks? Certainly excellent food. Then the Royal Oak in West Sussex could be the perfect spot

Chichester has all the ingredients for the perfect weekend getaway: the rolling hills of the South Downs, vistas of the Solent, the stretch of water separating the Isle of Wight from the mainland, some of England's best-preserved historic buildings, and the lavish Goodwood estate and racecourse. Plus there's good shopping and one of the country's flagship repertory theatres.

But the Royal Oak offers another reason to visit these parts - good food. A past winner of Les Routiers Inn of the Year, it is a top-end gastro-pub with rooms, offering a comfortable, cheery feel, blending the rural beauty of its surroundings with 21st-century luxury.

The location

A wonderful Grade II-listed, 200-year-old inn, it's on the old coach road to London, two miles north of the ancient Roman city, set in beautiful Sussex countryside.

The comfort factor

The six rooms are spread between the inn itself and the flint cottage and renovated barn that stand behind it. (The owners are currently fitting out two further cottages on the site, which will be ready for guests by July.) Rooms are relatively small, but welcoming and cosy, with the spacious flint cottage the biggest of the bunch, sleeping up to four. The inn faces on to a road, but it is a quiet rural thoroughfare, snaking through the village of East Lavant. The main building has a modern rustic look: think wooden floors, exposed brickwork, leather sofas and an open fire. There is a well-conceived terrace at the front and side of the building, which is wonderful for breakfast on a summer's morning, or a nice pint of local ale in the early evening.

The bathroom

Small. Ours didn't even have a bath, but it did have a good power shower and L'Occitane toiletries.

The food and drink

Fantastic. The Royal Oak has six full-time chefs and serves traditional British cuisine with a Mediterranean twist. Particularly recommended is the fresh lobster cocktail - caught down the road at Selsey - and the slow-roasted shank of lamb in rosemary and red-wine sauce. The sea bass and scallops served with roasted sweet potato and salsa verde is also a winner. In addition to the menu, specials on the blackboard change twice a day, with the average three-course meal plus wine costing around £35 a head. The bar also hosts some fantastic beers - plenty of locals drink here, which is always a good sign. Try a pint of Badgers, Tanglefoot or Sussex Best - all from the keg.

The people

Mainly Londoners escaping for the weekend. Couples and families.

The area

There are two areas of outstanding natural beauty within easy reach - The South Downs and Chichester Harbour. One of the highlights of the latter is the pretty hamlet of Bosham, which features in the Bayeux Tapestry and is supposedly where King Canute made his infamous attempt to conquer the waves. Chichester itself has a remarkably intact Roman wall encircling it, and a striking 11th-century Norman cathedral, renowned for its modern art. Just outside the city is Fishbourne Roman Palace - the largest Roman home found north of the Alps. Another must-see is the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum, home to 50 historic buildings from as early as the 13th century, each painstakingly taken apart and rebuilt there.

The access

Child-friendly, with cots provided. Access is difficult if you have limited mobility.

The damage

Doubles start at £90 a night, with the flint cottage costing £130 on Fridays and Saturdays. Minimum of two nights' stay at weekends.

The address

The Royal Oak, Pook Lane, East Lavant, Chichester, West Sussex (01243 527434, For more info call Chichester Tourist Information (01243 775888;


* The Punch Bowl Inn & Restaurant (01539 568237;, in Cumbria, is a modern inn with rooms.

* Beautiful Lavenham in Suffolk is the setting for The Great House Hotel (01787 247431;, a restaurant with rooms serving French cuisine

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice