“An enchanted barns-and-breakfast bolthole, tucked between lovely Lewes and the South Downs, with 4 boutique rooms for 2-4”
Emma has done a great job mixing flea-market finds with Gallic chic. Expect exposed floorboards with cowskin rugs, chandeliers hanging from white painted eaves, pale pastel shades (including Farrow & Ball Charleston, aptly enough), postwar posters rehoused in chunky silvered frames, wooden Pepsi crates repurposed into bedside tables, and gold antlers gazing benignly down. It all speaks of great love and a sense of fun - and if the vintage alarm clock is stuck at ten to eight, then (as my wife pointedly observed) at least it is right twice a day.
Of the 4 mini-barns, The Lodge (for 2-4) is the newest and largest: double height, with an open-plan bedroom-kitchen-living space downstairs, a compact bathroom with a tub and rainshower alongside, and steep steps up to a cosy mezzanine twin intended for older kids (but not for toddlers, the elderly or the light-sensitive, as it is only partly screened from the main room). Our son slept in obligingly late, while we sprawled on the kingsize bed beneath Sunday papers and down duvets.
Little Lodge (also for 2-4) is the next largest. Its glassed-in living room-cum-kitchen has high eaves, grey striped blinds for privacy, and a daybed which pulls out to a double. There's a cosy double bedroom and a compact bathroom which comes with a rolltop tub and the word WASH spelled out in giant gold letters, in case the Ren toiletries and steaming hot water make you forget what you came for. We think it's perfect for a couple with (or without) a child, who want self-catering facilities and a bit more space.
Of the 2 smaller rooms, The Nook is Emma's favourite - an exquisite couple's hideaway with a kingsize bed and black-slated shower - while The Sailor's House, a brick outhouse which was formerly Bell's studio, is now a compact double room with a narrow shower room behind sliding doors. The 2 lack kitchens, but come with coffee- and tea-making facilities and mini-fridges, as well as flatscreen TV-DVDs, fluffy towels and WiFi.
Although 2 rooms have kitchens, this is very much a B&B. Bryony whips up a wonderful range of spoiling breakfast dishes, including the 'Why Miss Jones' (an eye-opening avocado-poached egg-chorizo combo), or Mexican huevos rancheros, or a healthy spread of granola, yoghurt and fruit topped with tangy cranberry compote made that morning. It's served on vintage crockery in their funky living room, with flickering candles, a salvaged rocking horse and Sinatra crooning on the iPod. Whatever the day and purpose of your visit, there's a sense of Sunday morning indulgence.
But if you prefer to do it your way, guests in the Lodge or Little Lodge can opt for a yummy, largely organic hamper delivered to the door. We tried it on our second morning, and found Lavazza coffee, Teapig teas, Rude Health granola, pork sausages from Firle, eggs from Middle Farm, cherry tomatoes and bumper mushrooms, Innocent OJ and more. There's no doubting the thought, and the generosity, that they put into it - as into everything.
These 2 rooms have small but well-equipped kitchens - electric hob and oven, essential pots and pans, ceramic butcher's sink, retro kettle and toaster, fridge - where you can rustle up a simple lunch or dinner. They each have compact dining areas, or in good weather you can eat outside at the pergola-shaded courtyard table.
There's no shortage of good eateries nearby, including Bill's in Lewes for fresh seasonal café food, and The Ram in the time-stood-still hamlet of Firle - where we enjoyed juicy burgers and homemade soup, before walking home via Beddingham Hill. Just ask Emma and Bryony for their latest recommendations; or they can prepare a bespoke feast for you by prior arrangement.
Children of all ages are welcome, and there's lots to do locally including beaches, family-friendly farms, traffic-free cycle routes, and a castle and freshwater pool in nearby Lewes. The owners' 2 young children are often around, and our son loved playing on their tree-ship in the garden. Two barns can sleep up to 4.
Children (4-12 years)
The Lodge is best for a family of 4, with a downstairs double bed in the main room, and a mezzanine twin bedroom reached via steep stairs (not for toddlers). The Little Lodge is great for a couple with one child, having a double bedroom and a sofabed in the sitting room, which can be pulled out into a double bed if necessary.
Babysitters are available.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Kids' menus are available.
The stairs in the Lodge are very steep.