Visit local gems in Bedfordshire, Hampshire and East Sussex’, urges Elite Hotels
Seeking new ideas for summer and autumn exploration? Look no further! Knowledgeable staff at Elite Hotels highlight everything must-see, must-do near to each of the group’s four properties, located in East Sussex, Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire…
Recommended by Christoph Kuehn – Front of House Manager, Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf & Spa, Bedfordshire:
Shaw’s Corner in Hertfordshire, just 25 minutes’ drive from Luton Hoo, was the country home of playwright, politician and philosopher George Bernard Shaw from 1906 until his death in 1950. Shaw wrote more than 60 plays and is famous for works such as Man and Superman (1902), Saint Joan (1923) and Pygmalion (1912, which was adapted into the popular musical My Fair Lady).
The Arts and Crafts-style Edwardian villa will re-open once Covid-restrictions lift this summer, but the tranquil gardens are open daily; timed entry slots can be pre-booked. The restorative and relaxing grounds showcase bright alliums, yellow achillea, foxgloves and delphiniums; Shaw’s writing hut – tucked away at the bottom of the garden – is where he penned many of his plays.
Henry Moore Studios & Gardens can be reached in under an hour from Luton Hoo and is the workplace and family home of 20th century sculptor Henry Moore who is best known for his semi-abstract bronze sculptures. Spanning 70 acres of sculpture gardens and rolling fields, each summer 20 of Moore’s world-famous sculptures can be viewed. Six studio spaces reveal Moore’s creative process, including his carving, etching and drawing studios, while the 16th century Aisled Barn is the only place in the world to see his unique tapestries. Open until 31 October; Wednesday-Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays; £12.25 pp.
Where to stay:
Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf & Spa in Bedfordshire is a grand, Grade I listed mansion house hotel dating back to 1601. Stay overnight from £245 per room per night (two sharing), including breakfast. Contact Luton Hoo on 01582 734437 (www.lutonhoo.co.uk).
Recommended by Joe McGinn – Head Concierge and Member of The Society of the Golden Keys of Great Britain & the Commonwealth (Les Clefs D’Or), Ashdown Park Hotel and Country Club, East Sussex:
For the most romantic wedding proposal – or perhaps a birthday or anniversary treat – hire a private horse-drawn carriage from Gotwick Horse Drawn Carriages. The company offers a 75-minute carriage ride through ancient woodland in the glorious East Sussex countryside, complete with a bottle of sparkling wine from nearby Kingscote Estate & Vineyard. Prices from £199 for two people (£50 supplement from Friday-Sunday).
Explore on two wheels: this area of Sussex is part of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, home to miles of peaceful off-road cycling routes. Part of the National Cycle Route, Forest Way is a flat, 10-mile cycle route on a traffic-free disused railway track which passes the village of Hartfield, home to Pooh Corner – a tea house, gift shop and museum dedicated to Winnie the Pooh – who celebrates his100th birthday this year. Bikes can be hired from Tablehurst Community Farm in Forest Row (just moments from the Forest Way) via an app-based pay-as-you-cycle option – or simply turn up. The farm was founded in the mid-1990s as a social enterprise; it produces meat, poultry, raw milk and arable crops to biodynamic and organic standards. There is a shop and café as well as various courses available in basket-weaving and foraging.
Nearby, sister property, Plaw Hatch Farm, is a 200-acre community-owned biodynamic farm located to the west of Ashdown Forest; it champions sustainable farming and is run as a charitable trust. The tenant farmers provide bounty for the local community; a 12-acre kitchen garden produces fruit and vegetables, and there is also a butchery, dairy, farm shop and coffee barn on site. The farm operates an ‘open farm’ policy and visitors are welcome to wander around and to watch the cows being milked at 4pm daily.
Where to stay:
Set in 186 acres, Ashdown Park Hotel and Country Club is located in the heart of Ashdown Forest, East Sussex. Stay overnight from £255 per room per night (two sharing), including breakfast. Contact Ashdown Park Hotel on 01342 824988 (www.ashdownpark.com).
Recommended by Karen Venditto, Marketing Executive, The Grand Hotel, Eastbourne:
Perfect for those who want to explore the culture of the Sussex coast, the Coastal Culture Trail is an 18-mile stretch of coastline peppered with three superb contemporary art galleries: the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne, the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea and the Hastings Contemporary. Book an Off the Beaten Track Tour of Eastbourne and visit Towner Gallery (open Tuesday/Sunday) and VOLT (open Thursday/Sunday), plus deli/cheese shop Barley Sugar, which also sells eclectic vintage items, and Fusciardi’s, one of the South Coast’s finest Italian ice cream parlours, plus Holywell Beach, with its café and colourful beach huts, plus the backdrop of Beachy Head’s towering cliffs.
For a wonderful wine tasting experience, Rathfinny Wine Estate, near Alfriston, East Sussex, is the perfect spot for a tipple. Based on a working arable farm, the vineyard was set up by husband-and-wife team Mark and Sarah Driver in 2010 with the aim of producing some of the world’s finest-quality sparkling wines. Since the first wine was produced in 2012, the vineyard has won numerous awards. See – and taste! – by booking one of the vineyard’s tours (available Friday, Saturday and Sunday; £25 pp).
Where to stay:
The Grand Hotel is an iconic five-star hotel right on Eastbourne’s glorious seafront and Victorian promenade. Stay overnight from £240 per room per night (two sharing), including breakfast. Contact The Grand Hotel on 01323 412345 (www.grandeastbourne.com).
Recommended by the Concierge team at Tylney Hall Hotel, Hampshire:
Located 45 minutes’ drive from Tylney Hall, Hollycombe Steam Collection near Liphook, Hampshire, is a fun day out for families, with steam railways, outdoor amusements and gardens to explore. The site is planning to re-open in early August and Razzle Dazzle, built in 1906, is widely regarded as the world’s first ‘white knuckle’ ride – it was one of the earliest rides to use rotational and tilting motions.
Closer to Tylney Hall (15 minutes’ drive) is Odiham Castle. Known locally as ‘King John’s Castle’, the castle is now a ruin, but the site has witnessed and been part of many major historical events, from the signing of the Magna Carta to a French siege and the imprisonment of a Scottish King. The castle is also close to the Basingstoke Canal, with its many tranquil stretches of water suitable for paddle-boarding and wild swimming.
Tylney Hall Hotel & Gardens, near Hook, is a grand Victorian Grade II listed house with the longest uninterrupted view in Hampshire. Stay overnight from £255 per room per night (two sharing), including breakfast. Call Tylney Hall on 01256 764881 (www.tylneyhall.co.uk).
Notes to Editors
A small, independent UK-based hotel group, Elite Hotels has invested in some of the UK’s most beautiful historic houses since 1986. The first of these was Tylney Hall Hotel, Hampshire, followed by Ashdown Park Hotel & Country Club, East Sussex, The Grand Hotel, Eastbourne and Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf & Spa, Bedfordshire. Each of the four Elite Hotels is a member of Small Luxury Hotels, a prestigious consortium representing over 500 of the best independent hotels in 70 countries.
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