Stylish dog-friendly Sussex staycations to book now
- Credit: Clive Sawyer
From a luxurious beachfront des res to a five-star hotel, self-catering let and cosy countryside pub, there’s something for everyone in Sussex to love – including your dog
The Grand Hotel Eastbourne
Known as the White Palace and beloved by illustrious guests such as Winston Churchill and author Arthur Conan Doyle, The Grand has been proudly overlooking the English Channel since 1875.
It’s still the only five-star hotel on the British coastline and is so unashamedly posh that breakfast is served under a closhe, with hushed voices and the chink of china as tea is served just so, ma’am.
But the grandeur that inspired Claude Debussy to compose his symphony La Mer in Suite 200 there in 1905 – and was a favourite among Victorian high society who came for the salty fresh air - now boasts all mod-cons including a spa, gym, indoor and outdoor pools and a 2-AA Rosette fine-dining restaurant, Mirabelle, serving exciting European cuisine with a side of sea views.
Overseen by head Chef Michael Sutherland whose passion for cooking first took him into the kitchen at Herstmonceux Castle at the age of 14 and led to him being crowned Sussex Young Chef of the Year 2017. Since then, Michael was Head Chef at the Rathfinny Estate and etch. By Steven Edwards in Hove before taking over the Head Chef role at Mirabelle in January 2020.
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Michael’s cooking is influenced by Nordic pickling and fermenting as well as Asian accents. He has cultivated his own kitchen garden at the hotel so that he can add his own style to signature dishes such as South Down venison, braised haunch croquette celeriac fondant, crispy kale, Roskoff onion and rosemary jus. Vegetarian dishes are just as delicious and for those brave enough, there’s a seven-course tasting menu.
A pebble’s throw from the beach, and a 10-minute stroll from the pier and the start of the South Down’s Way – which leads all the way to Winchester – the interior of The Grand is just as, well grand, as the exterior. Huge marble columns, wide corridors – for the ladies’ bustles – and antiques galore give this the feel of a stately home.
But it’s not stuffy, with a children’s programme, afternoon teas and games room along with an ‘abandoned’ Moorish tiled Turkish hammam in the basement and rumours of a secret tunnel down to the beach.
There are 152 rooms, with suites on the first floor, and Molton Brown products in the bathrooms, a cocktail bar with an open air terrace – and dogs are welcome too.
From £240 per room per night (two sharing), including breakfast. Contact The Grand Hotel on 01323 412345
The Crown Inn, Dial Post, West Sussex
A former 16th century coaching inn, this quaint foodie’s pub opposite the village green in Dial Post, is worth a visit for a taste of the Sussex countryside.
The Crown Inn is revered by locals and visitors for its delicious home-made food, cosy atmosphere, and was named Pub of the Year in the Celebration of Sussex Life Awards in 2017.
Owned and run by Penny and James Middleton Burn, guests can now stay at this hidden gem in one of the free house’s recently refurbished room by local designer Emma Wood. A gorgeous and eclectic mix of vintage and modern décor that pays homage to the rural Sussex surroundings, choose from the Butterfly, Safari, Ancestry or Wild Flower rooms.
Each one has stripped floor boards, Nespresso coffee machines, original features such as a Victorian fireplace and vintage painted furniture, antique beds with Emma mattresses and luxury Sussex toiletries. Canine guests will be treated to a bowl, blanket and Bonio.
Later in the year, self-catering accommodation will be available in The Hayloft, which sleeps two, and The Coach House which can accommodate up to four with a bedroom that has a double and two single beds.
James is in charge of the kitchen, and goes foraging for fresh, local ingredients to create pub classics and seasonal specials. The restaurant has Sussex artist Eric Ravilious prints on the walls, and there is a light and airy garden room as well as the botanical room for diners. The bar has a wood burner and comfy seating and now that spring’s arrived guests can enjoy a tipple on the patio and newly-landscaped garden overlooking the village green.
There are plenty of excellent walks to exercise the dogs and burn off all those delicious calories in the neighbouring countryside with Knepp Castle Estate, known for its rewilding project, on the doorstep. A country idyll that both owners and their best friends will love.
From £120 per night.
The Self-catering Lets
The Downs Stables Holiday Lets, Findon, West Sussex
Horse lovers can now race to stay in luxurious self-catering lets in the heart of a historic National Hunt Racing yard in Findon that was the previous home of four Grand National winners including Champions star Aldaniti.
Just five miles from the sea and 20 miles from Goodwood, The Downs Stables trained the racehorse who won the prestigious title in 1981 against all the odds after suffering a career-threatening injury. His jockey was Bob Champion who had recovered from cancer.
The story was so uplifting and incredible that the 1983 film was made – in which Aldaniti starred as himself opposite actor John Hurt.
The two self-catering holiday lets – one of which is named after the champion racehorse - are in the fully working National Hunt racing yard with 30 horses in training and direct access to the South Downs.
Each stylish property accommodates two and are fitted out with granite work tops, underfloor heating, Neff ovens, smart TV and Aldaniti even has a log burner. A small dog is welcome by prior arrangement and may like the two new Glamping Pods, with Fire Pits, outdoor seating and stunning views in a countryside setting.
The village is a short stroll away, and has a shop, post office, The Sylvan Oak restaurant and four pubs. Ideal for cycling, walking, relaxing and watching the horses train, this is a natural idyll that is hot to trot.
From £80-130 per night per property for the lets.
Sea Gem, Camber Sands
Right on the seafront of Camber Sands, one of the south coast’s biggest and best beaches, is this splendid architect-designed modernist beach house. Large and flooded with light, it brings in as much of its seaside location as possible, with raised wooden decks, sun terraces, balconies and glass walls giving fabulous views on every level.
With its rare, protected dunes and 4-5-km (2.5-mile) sweep of pale sand, Camber Sands is lauded as one of the south coast’s best beaches, if not the country’s.
But even on the sunniest days, when the crowds arrive to swim and paddle, those staying at Sea Gem feel they have total privacy while still being only metres from the water thanks to the clever design of this bold, contemporary pad that is a homage to the modernist houses of the 1920s and 30s.
Built in an angular, chunky V-shape with windows and balconies on both square ends to maximise views, it has an inverted layout, placing three bedrooms on the ground floor. There’s a kitchen diner and lounge upstairs, where a wrap-around wall of glass opens onto an upper terrace washed in the sound of waves and seagulls. More glass doors slide back to reveal a huge private balcony in the main bedroom (there’s bound to be arguments over this one), and the whole thing is reminiscent of a golden-age ocean liner, with porthole windows and white metal spiral staircases inside and out, linking the wooden decks on both levels and adding to the sense of fun.
As actress Jessica Hynes noted during her visit: ‘There is only ever childish glee at going up a spiral staircase.’ Nods to the seaside position are apparent everywhere with the interior design in the pictures of beach huts and boats. The spacious feel and relaxed atmosphere of the place was influenced too by the Antipodean architecture that the owners saw on their travels Down Under.
While the building is spectacular, it doesn’t overwhelm and still feels homely and comfortable. The absolute best thing about this place is the direct access from the beach. Only footsteps from the lounger-strewn sundeck, past the tufty, professionally designed garden, and beyond a fenced seating area around a firepit, is that epic stretch of peachy sand.
Best of all, those who stay after hours will be treated to phenomenal sunsets, when all the colours of the heavens are reflected in endless puddles of seawater across the vast sandscape, turning the world into a kaleidoscope of pink, lilac and gold.
Dogs allowed with prior agreement.
From £750 per night. Sleeps up to eight.
Credit: Extraordinary Escapes: Unique and Wild Getaways Across the UK by Gemma Bowes (Quadrille, £20)
Photography: Sea Gem Camber: Clive Sawyer