Travel review: Bailiffscourt Hotel and Spa, Sussex
PUBLISHED: 10:45 04 August 2014 | UPDATED: 10:45 04 August 2014
Five star luxury isn’t something you normally expect when looking for a dog-friendly holiday – tatty cottages and run down bed and breakfasts are more of what normally springs to mind.
But Bailiffscourt Hotel and Spa is a rare, lavish retreat set in sweeping parklands right next to the Sussex coastline where four legged friends can indulge much as their owners.
Built in the 1920s by Lord Moyne, then Walter Guinness of the brewing family, it was designed as a medieval-style home across 30 acres of countryside and you’re transported back to the middle ages as soon as you drive through the entrance.
Little quaint stone thatched cottages are dotted around the pristine grounds and an impressive sandstone house with Gothic mullioned windows sits at the end of the long drive, housing the main part of the hotel which opened in 1948. Inside it’s just as authentic – with its low ceilings and a series narrow passageways connecting cosy lounges filled with mismatched furniture, floral curtains, oak chests, antiques, tapestries and crackling log fires.
After a two hour drive our normally obedient black Labrador Logie couldn’t contain his excitement as he leapt out of the car at the entrance and went bounding straight past the heavy oak doors into reception, but the staff gave him as warm a welcome as they did us – even when he bulldozed his way through the lounge as we were led to our room.
Unlike most hotels that allow dogs to stay, at Bailiffscourt they are welcome in every room – even the Baylies suite, the hotel’s signature room which lists Sir Roger Moore among its previous guests and we were lucky enough to stay in it.
Full of charm, character and luxury, the suite boasts a vaulted ceiling, a ginormous four poster bed, traditional furniture and a wood burning stove which came in handy on our October stay with the temperatures dipping at night. Meanwhile the bathroom was just about the swankiest I’ve seen –huge and with not one but two classic roll top baths and a walk in shower.
And it wasn’t just us that were impressed – Logie even got his own welcome pack as part of the Sandy Paws Package, including a gourmet dinner and breakfast, pig’s ear, a new ball, towel, frisby and bowl. There’s even a doggie room service menu.
So after a quick glass of wine and a sandwich in the pretty, rose-clad, walled courtyard, it was straight out to try out his new toys – and there’s no shortage of ball-throwing space here.
We explored small streams, stunning flower beds and a moat between an array of rustic outhouses before heading down a private pathway to Climping Beach. It’s a beautiful, unspoilt and quiet spot – we only passed a couple of other people as we ambled along the pebbled shore, inhaling the fresh sea air as Logie played fetch.
Once he was suitably worn out it was back to the hotel so we could enjoy the spa facilities while he had a nap in the room.
Housed in a new purpose-built barn-style building with a dramatic exposed timber frame, the spa is an award-winning oasis of tranquillity and we could have easily whiled away an entire day – or weekend – there.
Vast windows surround the indoor pool, letting sunlight flood in and showcasing the stunning surroundings. Meanwhile the spa’s outdoor heated pool and hot tub are just as inviting.
With our robes on, it was warm enough to relax outside for a couple of hours as the late summer sun set, feeling at one with nature.
Apart from the spa, the only other no go zone for dogs is the restaurant – it’s a fine dining, candle-lit affair so you can see why, and there’s always the bar area should you wish to keep your four legged friend in tow. The restaurant here is a destination in its own right – my monkfish wrapped in pancetta and served with a pea risotto was superb.
As inviting as the bar was for an after dinner drink, our room with its log fire, room service to deliver drinks and selection of boardgames had more allure and was the perfect end to a lovely day which gave way to one of the best night’s sleep I’d had in ages.
After a delicious, hearty breakfast the next morning and another stroll through the stunning grounds we headed back home refreshed, relaxed and with a very content but worn out pooch asleep in the back. Whether you want to take a dog or not, Bailiffscourt is the perfect destination for a restful short break a little out of the ordinary.
The Sandy Paws package includes a night’s stay in a four poster junior suite with dinner, bed and breakfast and full use of the spa, including a doggie welcome kit. Prices start from £179.50 per person, based on two people sharing the room.
Standard midweek escapes start at £124.50 per person, including dinner, bed and breakfast.
Book online here