In 2016, I received the best massage of my life. It took place at The Spread Eagle Hotel & Spa , in the charming town of Midhusrt in West Sussex. I’m still not over it.
Meanwhile, in 2015, I had the most memorable swim of my life, at The Spread Eagle’s sister property, Ockenden Manor , in the Tudor village of Cuckfield. I’ll never forget it. It was mid-winter, and the heated outdoor swimming pool was intoxicating. Above me, the sky turned twilight-purple over the tumbling hills and barren forest of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Both hotels, belonging to Historic Properties portfolio, surprised me with their luxuriousness, tempered by warm, hospitable, local staff.
Unsurprisingly, I’ve long been keen to visit the properties’ third sibling, Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa , located five minutes’ walk from the rugged Climping Beach near the town of Littlehampton. Of course, I knew what to expect at this point: lovely, tasteful mini-break perfection that’s full of surprises.
Set among 30 acres of well-manicured parkland, the sprawling complex, with its scattered thatched roof cottages, has the most beautiful exterior of the three. It resembles a Medieval village.
At its heart is an exquisite 13th century chapel; the adjoining manor house was built in the 1920s to compliment it. The spa building, which looks the world’s largest and most stylish shed, is amiably off-key.
Inside, the 39 rooms and many interconnecting lounges continue the throwback theme; all charming casement windows, antique furniture and heavy embroidered fabrics and tapestries.
At Spread Eagle, I stayed in a suite once enjoyed by Queen Elizabeth I. My room at Bailiffscourt was similarly regal, featuring an inviting four poster bed and steep, wooden-beamed roof.
Cosy countryside escapes aren’t for everyone: they can be boring and cut-off. But what I loved about Bailiffscourt was the wealth of things to see and do without needing a car.
In less than 24 hours, my guest and I got through through a busy itinerary: candlelit baths in our standalone tub, a morning run along the beach, lengths in the swimming pool, a chat in the hot tub, a decent deep tissue massage, an hour speed-reading newspapers next to a log fire…
We barely saw the inside of our room, didn’t have time to explore the underground passageways (!), and saw precious little of the parkland.
As such, I was actually thankful the rose garden wasn’t in bloom, and that it was too cold to take to the tennis court.
On the night of our arrival, we even found ourselves rushing through our spectacular meal.
The rich, sumptuous lobster soup, generously laced with gruyere cheese, was one of my top 10 starters ever, and the locally-sourced scallops were flawless. Meanwhile, the tender partridge meat of my main, flanked by blackened pear, chantenay carrots, chestnuts parsnip puree, was hearty but delicate. The chocolate souffle to end was moist and marvellous.
Finally, the service was faultless. I was especially impressed with how patiently one manager dealt with a disgruntled guest in a lounge. Although for everyone’s sake, this conversation might have taken place somewhere more private.
Still, I adored my stay here and hope to return one day. Perhaps to get married. You can rent the whole place out, and I’m telling you, it would be perfect for that…
For more information about Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa, visit the official website by clicking here .
Gay Star News traveled to Bailiffscourt with Southern Railway .