Of all the hotels I have stayed in, Bailiffscourt is the one that has felt most like a home; granted if by that we mean the home of fabulously bonkers, gloriously eccentric and extremely wealthy (in that shrugged off English upper middle class manner) people.
That it feels like that is hardly surprising, given that its genesis was in 1927 as the pet project of Lord Moyne, then Walter Guinness of the brewing family and his wife Evelyn. It was the scene of many high society house parties until the death of Lady Moyne in 1939, and in 1948 it became a hotel.
Designed by the antiquarian and architect Amyas Phillips, the brief was to recreate a house in the medieval style. Phillips sourced original stone, woodwork, doors, windows and fireplaces, bringing them all together to create the country house and park that we see today.
It’s the kind of hotel where you would happily hole up for a long weekend, taking long muddy walks, eating crumpets by the fire in one of the many inter-connecting low-ceilinged sitting rooms, whilst absent mindedly feeding bits to the slavering hound by your side, occasionally nipping off to wallow in the lovely barn spa, and enjoying wandering slightly lost down its labyrinthine flagstoned corridors as you hunt down the dining rooms.
We three (of course we include Madam in this) loved this hotel.
Everyone was so welcoming and friendly and, above all, kind. They had pats for Posetta Baddog, smiles for us, and nothing was too much trouble. It’s not a shiny boutique hotel and, if one were totally honest, in parts it’s looking a bit too well-loved, but it’s all in keeping with the hotel’s ambience and its surroundings and we found it enormously comfortable.
We were staying at Baliffscourt as we had been lent a vintage Austin Healey for the weekend, and were engaged on an exploration of Sussex. Bailffscourt makes a great base for day trips to places like Arundel (with its amazing castle), Chichester and, closer to home, Climping Beach is a brisk walk away through the hotel grounds. We really did have a perfect weekend away – I wrote about our itinerary here.
One thing of note: staying in hotels that have regular wedding businesses is usually hell during the summer months. No guest wants to feel like a bit part in some one else’s celebrations, as is so often the case when there is a wedding party, but at Bailiffscourt, and I cannot praise this too highly, the celebrations take place in a lovely special wedding building far off in the grounds, so regular guests aren’t disturbed by Come on Eileen DJs and drunken guests in the early hours.
I wish we had stayed for longer so we could have had treatments in the spa (above), but we had a glorious time splashing and swimming lengths around in the wonderful pool, which was empty apart from us, and I would almost stay at Baliffscourt just to be able to swim there.
The grounds are spectacular – there are period hotel buildings dotted around, and plenty of walled gardens to read in,
lawns on which to play croquet, and orchards in which to potter.
The only issue was that we didn’t enjoy the restaurant: woefully understaffed at both dinner and breakfast, it fell into that category of too clever by ‘arf, and was no tastier for it. Nearly every plate of food with its artful smears had at least two embellishments too many in an attempt at sophisticated plating.
With exceptional local produce on hand, which was clearly being used in the kitchen, and a prevailing national trend for letting wonderful ingredients speak for themselves, it’s hard to understand why all this strained effort is necessary. (And there really is no excuse for the lacklustre English breakfast, carpet tile onion bhajis, and claggy risotto.)
On the other hand, P Bad was bountifully catered for, with snacks and a bowl awaiting her in our room.
Do note that you really CAN get away from it all here as, although there is a faint WiFi signal in parts of the hotel, in many of the rooms, including ours, there was no signal, and cellphone coverage was also patchy.
There are more of my photos on the LLG Facebook page here.
LLG, her sister & P Bad were guests of the Bailiffscourt Hotel for one night, with breakfast and dinner included.