Stay The Night: Rubens Barn, West Sussex

Get back to nature on the South Downs asthis old flint barn is a great base for walkers
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The Independent Travel

The South Downs is a jolly place to visit right now. When it was granted national park status earlier this year there was a palpable sense that a special slice of the UK's great outdoors had finally been given the recognition it deserves. Rubens Barn, which opened this spring, is tucked away in one of the many broad valleys that characterise this area. It is a former flint barn, dating back to the 18th century, that has operated both as a lambing shed and a café in the past. Today, it is a two-storey B&B that can also be hired out on a self-catering basis. Cattle come to a water trough at the bottom of the garden. There are two birch trees there and it's a delightful place to sit in good weather, accompanied by woodland birdsong and perhaps the occasional, curious roe deer.

The rooms

The property is tastefully and smartly decorated in pastel shades with exposed beams and comfortable furniture, and adorned with lilies. It has a kitchenette and a living room that opens through French doors on to a small garden with woodlands beyond. There are two bedrooms, a double en-suite on the ground floor, with a comfortable king-size bed, and a twin bedroom that takes up most of the first-floor attic. It has an en-suite bathroom with stand-alone rolled-top bath. You can enjoy views over open country while soaking in smellies from the White Company. There's a second shower on the ground floor.

The food and drink

The self-service approach to B&B – you eat at an oak table in the barn, rather than the owner's adjacent house – means you have a well-stocked fridge, with cheeses, hams, yoghurts, juices, bread, tea and fresh coffee. Help yourself to as much as you wish, using the kitchenette to prepare anything hot.

The extras

The barn, on the edge of the Downs, is perfectly located for striking out into the hills and woods, with footpaths from the bottom of the garden. It is set in the vast Goodwood estate and the racecourse and motorsport circuit are seven miles away. A tennis court next to the barn is available.

The access

Children and families welcome. No special provision for wheelchair users, though the ground floor is level throughout.

The bill

From £75 to £130 per bedroom per night, B&B; £650 to £850 per week, self-catering. Open all year, with a minimum stay of two nights.

The address

Ruben's Barn, Droke Lane, East Dean, West Sussex PO18 0JJ (01243 818187;