West Sussex

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Despite being extensively invaded by the Romans, and more recently Londoners snapping up second homes, the county has thankfully retained plenty of its character. And many of the best places to stay in West Sussex can definitely be said to have plenty of character.

West Sussex's classic calendar events, like the horse racing and Festival of Speed at Goodwood, or the polo at Cowdray Park, are tempered by simpler pleasures, like walking in woods carpeted with bluebells or having a beer in a fine country pub.

The South Downs are a wooded ripple across the middle of the county, dominating the countryside and offering scenic landscape for walking, and views to the coast.

Chichester is the capital, a well preserved Georgian market town with a beautiful cathedral, rows of 18th Century townhouses, pleasant tea shops, and a world renowned theatre and arts festival, which keeps it feeling lively and cosmopolitan.

Arundel is another of the best places to stay in West Sussex. As well as being close to the South Downs and a number of West Sussex's Roman ruins, it's also a romantic little town, full of antique shops and good restaurants and topped by a faitytale-esque castle.

Closer to the sea you'll find creeks and harbours, hiding waterside villages and the odd ice cream van.

In this varied landscape, places to hang your hat are also a mixed bunch. Left over from days when folk went shrimping in Bognor for their annual escape, there is a sea of no-nonsense coastal guesthouses that do a brisk trade for the bucket-and-spade brigade.

At the other end of the scale, five-star country piles abound, where former Lords and Ladies peer from their canvas haunts at corporate types having a pow-wow or elegant ladies relaxing in the fluffy robes of a spa package.

To ensure a bed in one of the best places to stay in West Sussex, you'll need to make sure that you plan ahead. This is a very popular county, especially during the summer season, and good accommodation gets booked up well in advance. Alternatively save your visit for quieter months and come midweek, when you can savour all that West Sussex has to offer, without dealing with the crowds.

Best Places to Stay in West Sussex

For a quick country break

  • The South Lodge Hotel near Horsham is a classic county house retreat, set in 93 acres of woods and parklands. As well as views of the grounds, South Lodge also proffers views of the South Downs. The rooms are sumptuous and the restaurant has a Michelin star.
  • Ockenden Manor is a historic manor house just an hours drive from London. Ockenden also has winning views over the South Downs and Michelin starred cuisine.

To Relax

  • The Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa is a mid sized hotel converted from a very realistic mock-medieval house set in 30 acres of private parkland, just a short stroll from Climping Beach. The spa is award-winning.
  • The Park House Hotel is a family run hotel with a timeless feel in the heart of the South Downs National Park. Superb facilities for all including a top notch spa, indoor and outdoor pools, and a tennis court. Ideal location for Cowdray Park, the Roman villas at Fishbourne and Bignor, plus Chichester Cathedral and plenty of stately homes.
  • The Alexander House and Utopia Spa has earned a reputation as a great pampering escape. The award winning spa has Grecian style interiors and twenty five treatment rooms.

The best traditional pubs and inns

  • The Royal Oak is a revamped village inn, now a very popular restaurant with rooms. An ideal base for Glorious Goodwood or Chichester.
  • The Angel is a coaching inn in the centre of Midhurst which dates back to Elizabethan times. This is a great spot for walkers or for exploring Petworth, Arundel and Chichester.
  • The Crab and Lobster is a contemporary, yet cosy, restaurant with rooms in a charming waterside spot on the banks of Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve. The food is great and there are fine views of the salt marshes.

For something special

  • Amberley Castle near Arundel is a historic, 12th Century castle, complete with a moat and portcullis. As well as 19 atmospheric rooms, the castle also has acres of landscaped gardens.
  • Gravetye Manor is an Elizabethan gem known for its old fashioned hospitality and exceptional garden. Once the home of garden pioneer, William Robinson, this is now one of the last of the great, unchanged English county house hotels, with a private, caring owner. This is also a perfect base for Glyndebourne.

Still not sure which to book? Browse through our list of all the best places to stay in West Sussex, or contact one of our friendly Gurus for advice. Alternatively look at our suggestions in either Hampshire or East Sussex.

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The best hotels in West Sussex

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  • Willow Barns

    Petworth, West Sussex

    This collection of barns has been lovingly converted by Amanda and Wendy, who have recently purchased the next door pub, into a delightful country B&B. Bright rooms enjoying countryside views are decorated in pale palettes, wrought iron beds, sumptuous quilts and bathrooms with roll top baths.

    6 rooms from $127
    Great walks  -  Petworth to the historic market town of Pulborough is a popular walking route, amongst many others.
    Sights nearby  -  The historic town of Arundel with its impressive castle and cathedral is a short drive away.
    Birdwatching  -  The Arundel Wetland Centre has a bounty of bird and animal life for nature lovers.
    Restrictions on children  -  Children above the age of 12 are permitted.
    Recommended by  -  Good Hotel Guide
  • The Angel

    Midhurst, West Sussex

    Venerable Georgian coaching inn at the centre of lovely Midhurst, with inventive cooking and contemporary guest rooms to match. Dripping with history.

    13 rooms from $169
    Sights nearby  -  Explore Petworth House, Arundel Castle and Chichester.
    Birdwatching  -  Good birding near the hotel.
    Four poster beds  -  For romantics.
    Great walks  -  Good for walkers.
  • Ockenden Manor

    Cuckfield, West Sussex

    Tranquil and historic manor house just an hour from London, boasting oak-panelled cosiness and fine dining. Views across the South Downs, a great escape, full of character.

    28 rooms from $171
    Other Activities  -  Great for garden lovers: close to Nymans, Borde Hill, High Beeches and more!
    Restaurant  -  Michelin starred cuisine
    Views  -  To the South Downs
    Swimming Pool  -  Indoor/outdoor
    Recommended by  -  Johansens
  • Royal Oak

    Chichester, West Sussex

    Charming 200 year old village inn turned popular restaurant with rooms in a quiet village close to Goodwood Park and Chichester.

    5 rooms from $177
    Other Activities  -  Ideal base for Glorious Goodwood
    Special Offer
    Restaurant  -  Recommended.
    Sights nearby  -  Explore Chichester and Arundel
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith, Good Hotel Guide, Sawdays
  • Park House Hotel

    Midhurst, West Sussex

    A traditional family hotel with a timeless feel in the heart of the South Downs National Park. Ideal for families - tennis, pool and spa, and lovely walking on the Downs.

    21 rooms from $191
    Exclusive offer  -  Weekend Indulgence Getaway
    Sights nearby  -  Roman villas at Fishbourne and Bignor, plus Chichester Cathedral and plenty of stately homes close at hand.
    Swimming Pool  -  15m indoor pool & heated outdoor pool (summer only)
    Great walks  -  Good for walkers.
    Recommended by  -  Good Hotel Guide, Johansens, Sawdays
  • The Halfway Bridge

    Petworth, West Sussex

    Cosy inn with comfortable rooms serving superior pub grub and a warm atmosphere Ideal for couples exploring the Sussex countryside and groups wanting a good spot for a gathering.

    6 rooms from $198
    Local markets  -  The old market town of Petworth with its independant boutiques, cafes and antique shops is great for local exploring.
    Sailing  -  The seaside towns of Bogner Regis and Worthing are great for maritime activities.
    Great walks  -  The walking trails of the South Downs are accessible directly from the property.
    Sights nearby  -  The impressive Petworth House is just five minutes away and well worth a visit.
    Recommended by  -  Sawdays
  • The White Horse

    Chilgrove, West Sussex

    Charming and cosy, award-winning gastro pub offering delicious food and contemporary B&B rooms with roll top copper baths and four-poster kingsize beds. Extra details set this apart from other B&B pubs. Suitable for walkers, families and couples.

    15 rooms from $212
    Private Hot Tub  -  Two rooms have private hot tubs
    Sights nearby  -  Chichester Festival Theatre
    Great walks  -  Ramble in the South Downs
    Remote  -  Off the beaten track.
    Recommended by  -  Sawdays, Good Hotel Guide
  • The Millstream Hotel

    Chichester, West Sussex

    Located in the quaint village of Bosham this hotel stronghold has been in the same family for almost 40 years. Rooms are decorated in a classic style, with traditional floral prints and built in wardrobes. There are leafy gardens with pond to explore, two restaurants and an excellent wine list.

    35 rooms from $225
    Sights nearby  -  The historic buildings of Petworth House and Arundel Castle and Cathedral are close by.
    Great walks  -  From the Bosham Walk to the lengthy South Downs Way there are routes for every rambler.
    Sailing  -  From the quirkily named Smuggler's Lane take the ferry to tchenor
    Recommended by  -  Good Hotel Guide
  • Crab and Lobster

    Sidlesham, West Sussex

    Contemporary yet cosy restaurant with rooms in a charming waterside spot on the banks of Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve. Romantic escape, fine seafood, views over the salt marshes.

    4 rooms from $227
    Restaurant  -  Recommended.
    Secluded setting  -  For escaping.
    Great walks  -  Good for walkers.
    Sights nearby  -  Well located for major sights.
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith, Good Hotel Guide, Sawdays
  • The Goodwood Hotel

    Chichester, West Sussex

    An elegant country retreat on the Goodwood Estate. Two golf courses, a spa health club and a choice of restaurants make this hotel an ideal weekend getaway. Bedrooms are smartly decorated, many with private sitting rooms and patio terraces.

    91 rooms from $227
    Great walks  -  Stroll around the Goodwood Estate or explore the South Downs way
    Sights nearby  -  Just outside Chichester
    Swimming Pool  -  Indoor/outdoor
  • Spread Eagle Hotel And Spa

    Midhurst, West Sussex

    Handsome characterful medieval inn with four-poster beds, gourmet restaurant and contemporary spa in the pretty Sussex market town of Midhurst. History lovers and romantics will enjoy a weekend visit or mini break.

    39 rooms from $269
    Swimming Pool  -  Indoor Pool
    Four poster beds  -  For romantics.
    Full of character
    Recommended by  -  Frommers, Johansens
  • Alexander House Hotel & Utopia Spa

    Crawley, West Sussex

    Long established country house hotel with pool, spa and fine dining close to Gatwick. Extensive parkland and gardens.

    38 rooms from $312
    Garden  -  120 acres of parkland.
    Spa  -  Award winning spa with wide range of treatments.
    Swimming Pool  -  Indoor
    Recommended by  -  Small Luxury Hotels, Tablet
  • Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa

    Climping, West Sussex

    Atmospheric mock medieval house with award winning spa set amid 30 acres of private parkland with direct access to Climping Beach.

    39 rooms from $340
    Spa  -  Wide range of treatments using Temple Spa products
    Four poster beds  -  For romantics.
    Great walks  -  Good for walkers.
    Swimming Pool  -  Indoor/outdoor
    Recommended by  -  Johansens, Tablet
  • Gravetye Manor

    East Grinstead, West Sussex

    An Elizabethan gem of timeless comforts, an exceptional garden and old fashioned hospitality. Independently owned with Michelin starred cooking.

    17 rooms from $368
    Garden  -  Former home of garden pioneer William Robinson
    Restaurant  -  Recommended.
    Restrictions on children  -  Children welcome from 7 years.
    Sights nearby  -  Stay here for Glyndebourne
    Recommended by  -  Johansens, Relais & Chateaux
  • Amberley Castle

    Nr Arundel, West Sussex

    Historic castle dating back to the 12th century. Atmospheric rooms, moat, and oak portcullis. Behind lie acres of landscaped gardens.

    19 rooms from $446
    Four poster beds  -  For romantics.
    Romantic  -  Good for couples.
  • South Lodge Hotel

    Nr Horsham, West Sussex

    Classic luxury country retreat in 93 acres of parkland and woodland. Views over the South Downs, Michelin-starred restaurant, sumptuous rooms.

    89 rooms from $446
    Private Hot Tub  -  Book the Godman Suite for your own private terrace with hot tub
    Four poster beds  -  For romantics.
    Views  -  Great views from hotel
    5* Luxury  -  Very high service standards.
    Recommended by  -  Johansens, Small Luxury Hotels
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