From staying in a beautiful country cottage, to wine tours and spectacular walks, this guide will help you plan a memorable Sussex staycation.
After several trips abroad over the last couple of months, we had butterflies in our tummies as we set off in the car to see a little bit more of our home country! Yes it was a challenging time, but whoa did the pandemic give us a huge appreciation for Great Britain.
As soon as we could get out we zigzagged our way around the country, venturing out on new walking routes, discovering great restaurants specialising in tasty local produce, and learning more about what makes each region special. In fact, we enjoyed the experiences so much we set up the Great British Bucket List to share some of our favourite spots!
So, when Classic Cottages got in touch and invited us to stay at one of their properties in Sussex, we immediately said yes! We couldn’t wait to explore a part of Sussex we hadn’t visited before and make some new memories!
Whether you’re just starting to plan a little Sussex staycation of your own, or you’re simply looking for inspiration for where to stay or what to do, I’ve packed this guide full of tips and recommendations from our trip.
A Sussex Staycation Guide
The Piggery at John Bulls House
Let’s kick off with our dreamy accommodation! This Classic Cottages property is ideal for couples looking for a peaceful getaway in the countryside. Located in a picturesque area near Bolney and Cowfold, this holiday cottage in Sussex with a hot tub has everything you need for a romantic break.
The quirky cottage was once a piggery, but believe me when I say it’s very much for humans these days! A lot of care has been taken with the interior design to create a homely space that retains a lot of original features, while also feeling modern. I loved the merging of old and new, with historic beams running through the space towards chic bifold doors.
There’s a large shaker-style kitchen that’s very well kitted out for a self-catered break. From the espresso machine and the induction hob, to the dishwasher and selection of pots, pans, plates and glasses, there really was everything we needed for our Sussex staycation.
Here, the kitchen is part of the main open-plan space that also includes a large dining table and a cosy lounge area that faces the garden.
Along the corridor there’s a bathroom with shower, followed by a large double bedroom. The bedroom is a long, narrow shape, with a large sofa and wardrobe area. The whole property felt really spacious, especially as it only sleeps two.
That’s not the end of this little property tour though! Outside there are several lovely areas to relax in too! There’s an outdoor dining area with four chairs, two sun loungers, a fire pit and BBQ. All of this looks out over the pretty pond, where ducks and other wildlife make regular appearances!
But wait, there’s one more amazing feature to The Piggery – an outdoor wood-fired hot tub! Just pop a few logs in the furnace and within a few hours you’ll have lovely warm water to soak in. We used this several times throughout our Sussex staycation. What a place to unwind after an active day in the countryside! I loved lazing in the warm water, gazing out at the serene surroundings, listening to the birds tweeting around us!
We both really enjoyed our stay at The Piggery at John Bulls House. I’d recommend it for couples looking for a home from home in the Sussex countryside.
Bolney Wine Estate
There’s a scattering of beautiful vineyards and wineries throughout the south of England, all producing an array of excellent sparkling and still wines. If you’ve tried English sparkling wine over the last few years, no doubt you’ll have been surprised by how great it was!
There are several wineries in Kent and Sussex that produce exceptional sparkling wines. They’re snapping up top awards and earning an excellent reputation. Finally Champagne has competition! Bolney Wine Estate is one of them, so we were very happy to discover our cottage was just a 5-minute drive away.
We booked a wine tour at 10am at Bolney Wine Estate and enjoyed a great two-hour experience, followed by lunch. We walked around the vineyard learning about the life cycle of the vines, took a peek inside the winery itself (filled with steel cylinders and oak barrels) and then sat down to taste several wines. The winery produces over 250,000 bottles of wine a year, with the most popular being the ranges of English sparkling wine and white wine.
The tour was really informative without being dry or boring. I learned a lot and loved seeing the vines for myself. There’s a large restaurant at Bolney too, with a wide terrace overlooking the vines. We sat in the sunshine, enjoying a delicious menu of small plates, feeling like we could be in Provence! It was such a lovely experience and something I’d definitely recommend if you’re planning a similar staycation in Sussex.
Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens
Another great place to visit close to The Piggery is this stunning garden. At Leonardslee you can explore the spectacular and ancient gardens, peruse the huge sculptures dotted around the grounds, get up close to wildlife, enjoy pretty views of the lakes and even stop for a great meal at the café or restaurant.
We visited in May which turned out to be an ideal time to see the rhododendrons in full bloom. The huge bushes clashed in bright shades of yellow, pink, red and purple – it was an incredible sight.
I loved stumbling across the artworks that are located in different spots throughout the gardens. Created by artist Anton Smit, the most impressive is his 7m bronze Faith sculpture which is located on the lawn by Leonardslee House.
While the size makes this sculpture an incredible sight, there was something extra special about finding the smaller artworks (a part of the Walk of Life Exhibition) located in surprising spots in the grounds. It really feels like they sit in harmony with the plants and trees around them.
While we couldn’t squeeze it in this time, Leonardslee is also home to Michelin-starred restaurant Interlude. This restaurant celebrates local ingredients with an impressive set menu of creative dishes. It’s somewhere I’d love to return to for dinner in the future!
Ditchling Beacon Walk
If you’re looking for one of the most beautiful walks in Sussex, I’d recommend taking a trip to Ditchling Beacon. You’ll be met by sweeping panoramic views over Sussex, Brighton and the South Downs National Park.
We set off from the National Trust car park and went on a 2-hour (7km) circular walk through the countryside. We were so lucky with the weather, enjoying warm sunshine and blue skies throughout.
The scenery was varied, with open moorland, woodland, animals grazing, hill, valleys and of course all those amazing views. It’s a walk I’d love to return to do at other times of year, as I imagine it’ll look so different depending on the season. If you fancy following in our footsteps I’d recommend following this guide to the Ditchling Beacon walk.
The Ouse Valley Viaduct
If you’re keen on photography, I’d urge you to take a little detour to this impressive railway bridge in West Sussex. Located near Haywards Heath, this bridge was originally constructed back in 1838. While it’s still in use, you can visit if you park nearby and walk through the field to its base.
Once there, take a peek through the archways and you’ll realise exactly why this is a photographer’s dream! The rows of arches give an impression of infinity. It plays with your mind a little, but it’s a beautiful place for a set of unique photos!
The Bolney Stage Pub
It’s rare I write about somewhere in the UK and don’t mention a great pub, so here is my top tip for this area of Sussex! The Bolney Stage is located in Bolney, moments from the A23 from London to Brighton. It’s a huge pub with cosy interiors, and one of the best pub gardens in Sussex.
The menu here is full of crowd-pleasing dishes including sandwiches, salads, roasts, burgers and fish and chips. The food quality was excellent and the service was really friendly too. It’s a great option if you’re looking for somewhere to eat that’s just a short drive from The Piggery.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our staycation in Sussex. If you’re looking for other beautiful holiday cottages in the UK with hot tubs, take a look on Classic Cottages website.
If you’re looking for information on places to visit nearby, don’t miss my guides to visiting Hastings, Bodiam, Brighton and the South Downs National Park, as well as that detailed guide to the beautiful Ditchling Beacon walk.
We were guests of Classic Cottages but as always all thoughts and opinions are my own.