The number one restaurants, hotels and pubs in Haywards Heath

Jeremy's Restaurant

Jeremy's Restaurant - Credit: Archant

Make Haywards Heath your home from home, whether you live just down the road, or are planning a weekend away

Ockenden Manor Hotel & Spa

Ockenden Manor Hotel & Spa - Credit: Archant

Eat - Jeremy’s Restaurant, Borde Hill

As regular diners at this delightful little eatery will know, this really is one of Sussex’s hidden gems. As a local myself, I’m almost reluctant to shout about it, such is my want to keep it as friendly and low-key as it is now, while serving what can only be accurately described as truly delicious food.

The welcome is professional and charming, while the service is seemingly tailor-made to each table – come with a business party and you’ll be left seemingly alone as the staff work discreetly and efficiently around you, but come with a young family, keen to question, chat and interact, and the waiters couldn’t be happier to oblige, taking every diner’s needs as seriously as the next, be they six or sixty years old.

The food is exquisite, and it is not without reason that people travel from as far afield as Henley-on-Thames (a 140 mile round journey), to eat here. The fish in particular is a highlight, but this could just be my preference for seafood, as I have never seen anyone rendered anything but enchanted with their meal. On this note, Jeremy’s has just been voted the 7th most romantic hotel in Britain, as announced in The Times last month.

Borde Hill Garden provides an enviable backdrop, which makes this just the place to sit outside in the summer months, but at the moment, when we’re more inclined to wrap up and hide away, the décor here is both modern and cosy, so it’s the perfect place to rest your weary legs after a long afternoon spent idling among Borde Hill’s plants and woodland.

It’s wise to book if you’re eating in the evening or at weekends, as the restaurant does fill up…and probably will even more so, now that I’ve given away one of Haywards Heath’s best-kept secrets.

01444 441102; - The Red Lion, Handcross

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Having recently undergone an extensive refurbishment, The Red Lion has established itself as a firm local favourite, with promotional offers such as Sparkling Thursdays and Cocktail Fridays proving to be a real hit. The staff are always cheerful and happy to help, and the food is much more than you’d expect from a local pub, with an impressively large, rustically themed restaurant that somehow doesn’t stop the pub from losing any of its atmosphere in the evenings, when it’s always busy.

01444 400292; - Ockenden Manor Hotel & Spa, Cuckfield

To stay at Ockenden is to step back in time in the best possible way, to an era when understated elegance and unfaltering service were king. To drive through the charming village of Cuckfield, you’d hardly know that the hotel was there, despite it being mere moments away from the High Street. But those who know it by its faultless reputation are never long detained, for once discovered, the short driveway leading the front door of this Elizabethan Manor House will never be forgotten – a little like the fictional route through the wardrobe, in C.S Lewis’ Narnia.

Upon arrival, having inevitably gaped at the old-fashioned opulence of your room, from the rolling downs that greet you through the window, to the generous and exceptionally well-designed living space and luxuriously thick bed linen, not to mention the gorgeous curtains, I would recommend wasting not a moment before heading to the Michelin-starred restaurant downstairs.

Overlooking the South Downs National Park, the restaurant runs like a well-oiled machine, under the expert eye of Head Chef, Stephen Crane. Claiming the finest food in southern England, I really wouldn’t want to be the one to disagree, as the locally-sourced fare that emerges like culinary pieces of art from the studio that is the kitchen has to be seen to be believed.

Private dining is available in the oak panelled Burrell Suite, which can seat up to 40 people amongst the books and woodwork, which give the room a glorious scent of paper and polish. For a mere soupçon of the full gastronomic range that the restaurant is capable of, try the seven course Tasting Menu, which I guarantee will not disappoint. Trust the sommelier when he tells you exactly which wine will go best with your choices – the man really knows his stuff.

Skip neatly from one indulgence to the next, as you head to the hotel’s award-winning spa. Everything is very clean and contemporary, despite being housed in a 19th century walled garden. As well as the decadent list of treatments on offer, the facilities themselves are so extensive that there’s almost too many to name, but highlights include the walk-through rain shower, the natural spring water pool (indoor and outdoor), the ice fountain and the floatation tank. The latter is offered as an alternative therapy to chronic pain conditions, but is equally as useful when simply wanting to relax. It is a bit like what I imagine the Dead Sea to be like, albeit with much more calming lighting, as you bob effortlessly on the water’s surface – the whole experience is somehow unbelievably calming. The massages are to be particularly recommended, and during my stay I saw a couple of people with the most fantastic looking manicures.

Charmingly, each bedroom is individually furnished, and named after a member of one of the two families that have owned the building since 1520. It is this sort of thoughtful touch that makes the hotel so fantastic – from the peaceful atmpsphere, to the people and the place, when staying near Haywards Heath, this is a must.

01444 416111;’t miss

There’s plenty to do in the area, but our favourites are these…

Borde Hill Garden 01444 450326; Bluebell Railway 01825 720800; www.bluebell-railway.comNymans 01444 405250; Reservoir 01444 892549; Place 01444 894066;