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Best hotels in West Sussex 2023: Where to stay for spa retreats and family fun

If you’re ready to explore all West Sussex has to offer, check out its many fantastic places to stay

Debbie Ward
Tuesday 16 May 2023 15:22 BST
<p>There’s so much to do in the county of West Sussex </p>

There’s so much to do in the county of West Sussex

With the rolling South Downs, beautiful beaches and historic villages, West Sussex makes for an enticing escape. Yet much of the county is within an hour of London.

Whether it’s the charming town of Arundel and its Norman castle you’ve come to see, somewhere dog-friendly in the wooded plain of The Weald, a coastal escape for all the family in Shoreham, or culture and foodie hotspots in Chichester, this county in South East England can provide.

Great places to stay are plentiful, too, so, no matter what kind of break you’re after – a short romantic getaway or a longer stay during the school holidays – there’s something for everyone.

From smart country houses and historic mansions to cosy pubs with rooms, you can go for all-out indulgence with top spas and Michelin-starred dining, or use your base for coastal exploration and family outings. Here’s our pick of the best.

Best hotel for Michelin dining: Gravetye Manor

Location: West Hoathly

A castle fit for royalty

Homegrown produce enhances the Michelin-starred meals at this Elizabethan mansion, once home to famous gardener William Robinson. The contemporary glass-walled restaurant looks on to a fabulous array of flowers, some of which end up topping the delectable dishes.

Beyond Gravetye’s own thousand acres are further treats for the horticulturally minded, with Kew’s sister site Wakehurst and the National Trust’s autumn colour hotspot Sheffield Park nearby.

Best hotel for action: The Goodwood Hotel

Location: Goodwood

This hotel is known for its delish and sustainable dining

Fancy driving a retro racing car or taking to the skies in a biplane? The sporty Goodwood Estate is gift-experience heaven. Golf and clay pigeon shooting are among the non-motorised activities offered, and the hotel has a spa for soothing tired muscles after a day of action.

Don’t miss sustainable dining in Farmer, Butcher, Chef – an impressive restaurant decorated with retro finds, from fire hoses to flags. You’ll need to book well ahead, though, for vintage car-racing spectacular Goodwood Revival, which tops a packed calendar of sporting events.

Best spa hotel: South Lodge

Location: Horsham

The perfect place to spend a summer break

A top destination spa in West Sussex, this is a huge, state-of-the-art affair at historic South Lodge. A “wild swimming” option, complete with rushes, is among the three pools on offer here. An array of other features includes a sun terrace, herbal steam room, dedicated spin studio and veg-slanted restaurant.

The country house-style lodge itself sits within 93 acres, and its 88 classically furnished rooms include suites with hot tub balconies.

Best family-friendly hotel: Beachcroft Beach Hut Suites

Location: Felpham

Wake up on the beach at the Beachcroft beach huts

The hut-shaped suites adjoining the Beachcroft Hotel have plenty of cheery seaside style. Lounges with squashy sofas and contemporary prints open to decks overlooking the sea. Double beds and bunk beds can accommodate families of four, and dogs are welcomed with treats.

Beachcroft is right opposite Felpham beach, and there’s a small, heated pool on site. Alternatively, with day passes, you can go large on the flumes at nearby Butlin’s Bognor Regis. Fancy going a little further? Go exploring on the two bikes that are included in your stay.

Best hotel for couples: East Walls Hotel

Location: Chichester

Spend a relaxing weekend away at this boutique hotel

This antique-stuffed boutique hotel occupies a Georgian building on a quiet side street in central Chichester. Hole up enjoying roll-topped baths and hand-carved beds (upgrade to the honeymoon suite for a four-poster).

Take tea in the walled garden before taking some time out to explore. Chichester Cathedral is on the doorstep, and you can also walk to the acclaimed Chichester Festival Theatre, from which productions often transfer to the West End.

Best hotel for seafood: The Crab & Lobster

Location: Sidlesham

Indulge in local seafood at this waterside inn with rooms

As its name suggests, locally caught seafood is the star at this foodie pub with rooms. Attention to detail in the kitchen is matched in the smart bedrooms, where original beams add character. There’s also an on-site cottage for families.

Just beyond the doors, look out for egrets – the Crab & Lobster is perched on the edge of the birding hotspot Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve. Sandy West Wittering beach is a few miles away, where you can hire the pub’s “Betty” beach hut.

Best hotel for rustic-chic: The Pig in the South Downs

Location: Madehurst

Explore the vineyard at The Pig

If you’re after a countryside break with Instagrammable features, the youngest hotel in The Pig chain is calling your name. Rooms here are spread across a Georgian main house, stable yard buildings and secluded shepherd’s hut-style “wagons” many with views of the South Downs and the hotel’s fledgling vineyard.

The Greenhouse restaurant foregrounds ingredients grown in the kitchen garden or sourced within 25 miles. Pretty Arundel with its medieval castle can be explored nearby.

Price: Doubles from £155

Book now

Best hotel for ancient-meets-modern: Ockenden Manor

Location: Cuckfield

Treat yourself to an afternoon tea at Ockenden Manor

Heritage room or contemporary spa suite? The choice is yours at this ivy-clad Elizabethan mansion house with a separate pampering complex. Take in South Downs views from the formal dining room or striking glass-walled pool as you consider your next indulgence – perhaps a massage teamed with local sparkling wine.

Cuckfield village is near commuter station Haywards Heath. Several vineyards, National Trust sites and lively Brighton make easy day trips.

Ockenden also has two sister spa properties – historic coaching inn The Spread Eagle at Midhurst and sprawling country folly Bailiffscourt near seaside Littlehampton.

Best hotel for lording it up: Amberley Castle

Location: Amberley (near Arundel)

This castle has historic charm with a modern twist

Ever picture yourself sleeping behind a portcullis and playing croquet beneath battlements? At Amberley Castle, you can live out those regal fantasies. Dating back to the 12 century (Henry VIII is among former visitors), it feels part hotel, part Hogwarts. Think lattice windows, large fireplaces and suits of armour. Thankfully, the bathrooms are plush, modern affairs.

Dinner is formal, creative and top-notch. For more relaxed indulgence, afternoon tea can be taken in the courtyard before historic diversions such as falconry and archery.

Handily, Amberley village has rail connections to London and locally to Arundel and Littlehampton.

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