The Barn at Roundhurst
At the end of a satisfyingly long drive off a tree-lined country road destined for Chichester, is this award-winning 250-acre working organic farm where cows, bulls, sheep, pigs, hens, goats and an alpaca graze. Since Lower Roundhurst is set on the lower slopes of Black Down in Surrey Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this is prize rambling terrain. The hub of this polished new breed of luxury bed and breakfast is a beautifully renovated threshing barn with the original 300-year-old oak beams taken from these very woods. A mezzanine library tempts you to choose a book to borrow here then collapse by the open fire on one of the leather sofas. Since opening six rooms in the July 2012, the Barn has also upgraded to offering upmarket suppers in this very space.
We’ve come a long way since the term ‘B&B’ threatened a night in a pensioner’s dust-mitey spare room. Here the proposition is a nearly a dinky luxury hotel. Three categories of room are based on size, with each like a private fawn-toned cottage, where starched linens, goosedown, tartan throws, thick drapes and heated floors are on a par with a five-star grande dame. Tea- and coffee-making treats include a flask of fresh milk and a jar of shortbread biscuits; and thanks to hi-tech frills such as electric Velux blinds, adjustable thermostat, iPod docks, flatscreen and DVD players you’re assured of the Barn’s above-and-beyond intentions. Granite ensuites indulge guests with a bath and power shower, fluffy robes and Gilchrest & Soames unguents.
Befitting the grandeur of the triple-height oak-trimmed setting is an easy-on-the-eye spread of cereals, juices, a rustic loaf and homemade jams. Say the word and they’ll whip up a full English as well as pancakes should your stomach desire. Bacon and sausages have a provenance that couldn’t be closer to home; get up early enough and you can chose your own eggs from the house chooks. You wonder if this organic farm that rears cattle, sheep and pigs is trying to fatten up its bipedal residents too. Resisting the perfectly ripe fruit and just-baked muffins placed on your table too may be a challenge. There’s also a sizeable help-yourself pantry stocked with a glut of Tea Pig herbal infusions plus a Nespresso machine to keep guests perky between meals or until the excellent local and seasonal four-course dinner served at 8pm most nights.
Passionate about restoration, owners Moya and Richard Connell were newcomers to farming when they took over Lower Roundhurst in 2004. Alongside championing sustainable farming, they next spent a number of years lovingly creating this sophisticated stay from top-quality workmanship. Elegant art is a world from the knickknacks of B&B yore, and Moya’s just-so arrangement of antiques and artworks and contemporary furnishings demonstrates impeccable taste. Moya loves to welcome visitors personally when she’s here, but when she’s away tending to other projects or travelling, the high level of service is maintained by a friendly, professional team.
Follow the official Black Down walk from the market town of Haslemere through heathland and along Tennyson’s Lane – named after the poet who spent time living in this area. Black Down’s peaks are the highest in West Sussex and promise breath-nabbing views over the weald. The National Trust has lovingly preserved Earl of Egremont’s 17th-century Petworth House (01798 343929; nationaltrust.org.uk) and its sprawling gardens; the mansion has an impressive collection of landscapes by Turner, many of which portray this very countryside. It’s a 25-minute drive south to Goodwood Estate, and its racecourse and motoring thrills (01243 755055; goodwood.co.uk).
Noah’s Ark Inn (01428 707346; noahsarkinn.co.uk) on Lurgashall’s village green is the closest pub, a short drive away (or a 45-minute amble in summer). Witty British dishes such as cockle popcorn and a crumpet take on eggs Florentine are popular; be sure to book, particularly if you fancy the table by the inglenook fireplace. In Petworth, pause for snacks or edible souvenirs at the Hungry Guest (01798 344564; thehungryguest.com); it is set out like a chic gallery worthy of cheese and charcuterie fetishists. Off the main square is its sister café for a posh pasta or pizza for lunch or supper. Lurgashall Winery (01428 707292; lurgashall.co.uk) is handy since the Barn invites you to bring-your-own. That’s if you’re up for elderflower wine, and you manage to catch the limited Thursday to Saturday afternoon opening hours.
The Barn at Roundhurst, Lower Roundhurst Farm, Jobsons Lane, Lurgashall, West Sussex GU27 3BY (01428 642535; thebarnatroundhurst.com). Double rooms are from £130 a night and include a huge organic breakfast.