Travel: Rural Junkies

Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa

Posh, rural, classic English, dog-friendly digs


Approximately 2 hours from London by car


Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa, Climping Street, Climping, West Sussex, BN17 5RW


Built for the Guinness family in the 1920s, Bailiffscourt is the epitome of The Modern Country Break (it was built during the rise in popularity of the motor car, FYI). Smaller houses surround the main manor, making it feel like a tiny village hamlet. What makes this stand out from other Countryfile-esque hotels is the fact that there’s an otherworldly, design-led spa and a fine dining menu – no takes on the gastro pub here. We brought Pepper the pug along for the ride as they’ve just launched a bespoke pooch package that includes a Doggie Room Service menu and a handbook with local walks and dog-friendly attractions.


Peaceful, soothing – and highly WASPy. We got some snooty looks from “ladies who drink high tea” types (pugs and Nikes perhaps don’t translate here) but we did make friends with a King Charles Cavalier and another pug called Dudley. Staff are warm and welcoming – and available to look after your dog during spa or dinner time should you wish.


If medieval chic were a term Bailiffscourt would be just that. The houses were built with 13th century materials and the interiors follow similar suit: all rich tapestries, rugs and flagstone floors. Our suite – Baylies – had a beautiful vaulted ceiling, decadent four-poster bed, double roll top baths (a highlight) and fireplace.


The spa is standout. Housed in a reconstructed barn loaded with floor-to-ceiling windows, it’s part Scandi-, part Cali-cool. Inside, expect the usual pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room, while outside there’s a steaming heated pool (it stays open through the colder months) and a wooden hot tub. Other highlights include the walk to Climping beach, breakfast and the wine list.

Eat and drink

All food is locally sourced and produced by nearby farms. Dinner was more haute than expected: we dined on cep risotto, seared scallop and squid ink pasta, braised beef bourguignon and honey glazed wild duck with puy lentils. The wine list is a great, extensive edit of New and Old World. Breakfast is classic English – think hen’s eggs any way, smoked bacon, waffles and apple juice from a local farm. Pepper dined on pig ear, organic lamb and rice (and treaties).

Other Things to Check Out

Make the most of the fresh sea air and take some recommended walks to Climping Beach or the Bluebell Woods. Alternatively, head to a (dog-friendly) pub for lunch such as the Black Rabbit or The Oystercatcher. Otherwise, stay in your room, light a fire and settle down with a board game or film from Bailiffscourt’s collection.

Top Tip

If it’s raining, take the road route to the beach. Or bring wellies and embrace the mud.

Why Go Now

This isn’t a country break for city folk; it’s a country break for country folk, and that’s why it’s great. There’s no chance of bumping into anyone and you can really dissociate from the real world. It’s cosy in winter (fires, winter walks, blankets, hot toddies) and refreshing in summer (picnics, lawn games, beach).

Originally published on
16th January 2013


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