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.
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.
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.
Chichester, West Sussex
Charming 200 year old village inn turned popular restaurant with rooms in a quiet village close to Goodwood Park and Chichester.
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.
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.
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.
Midhurst, West Sussex
Historic coaching inn dating back to 1430. Traditional interiors, oak beams, and huge open fires. Antique filled rooms with contemporary comforts. Spa and award-winning restaurant.
Crawley, West Sussex
Long established country house hotel with pool, spa and fine dining close to Gatwick. Extensive parkland and gardens.
East Grinstead, West Sussex
An Elizabethan gem of timeless comforts, an exceptional garden and old fashioned hospitality. Independently owned with Michelin starred cooking.
Climping, West Sussex
Atmospheric mock medieval house with award winning spa set amid 30 acres of private parkland with direct access to Climping Beach.
Nr Arundel, West Sussex
Historic castle dating back to the 12th century. Atmospheric rooms, moat, and oak portcullis. Behind lie acres of landscaped gardens.
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.