Pelham Hall

East Sussex, South East England, United Kingdom Book from

Reviewed by Nadine Mellor
Whimsical well-priced 3-room B&B in beautifully restored medieval servants' quarters set in a pretty village
Nothing from the high street was Matthew's mantra when it came to dressing Pelham Hall. He and partner Chris found this former 14th-century hall-house, turned Victorian butchers then 20th-century antiques arcade, in a sorry state in 2012. They moved down from London, repaired and revitalised the property with wit (the flatscreen TV set inside a gilt frame) and panache (statement fabrics) using unique auction and flea market finds, and now live on the top floor, with their cute dog Carlito.

There are just 3 cosy bedrooms: 2 full of character at the front and the third opening onto the long garden at the back. On sunny summer days take breakfast on the upstairs terrace overlooking the tranquil Sussex Weald. Head out to explore the area with its National Trust gardens and historical houses; the coast isn't far away. On return relax by the 15th-century inglenook fireplace with a drink from the honesty bar. For dinner there's a choice of gastronomic destinations close by. Perfect for a weekend or midweek break.

Highs

  • Fine and imaginative restoration of a medieval building, everything carefully curated with exceptional attention to detail
  • High standard of creature comforts - great bathrooms and the best beds and linen
  • Delicious breakfasts home-made from local and seasonal fare
  • Within easy striking distance from London, close to Lewes, Rye and Hastings for exploring and shopping
  • Matthew and Chris pride themselves on their personal service; they'll sit down with you on arrival and chat over a cup of tea, nothing is too much trouble to arrange for you

Lows

  • No meals served other than breakfast; Matthew and Chris can make reservations for gastro-pubs and restaurants nearby
  • An A-road goes right through Burwash so the 2 rooms to the front may experience some traffic noise
  • Not for slick, smart, modern design mavens who prefer straight lines
  • You will most likely need a car to get about (you can arrange a taxi from the station)
  • No children under 10 (a draw for many)

Best time to go

East Sussex is great for a mini-break any time of year. Summers are bucolic, autumns rich with colour and harvest, winters have a bleak beauty, and in the springtime nature bursts forth.

Our top tips

You can actually walk to Bateman's from Pelham Hall. We thought the National Trust property full of interest and had some delightful details such as Kipling's untouched study, a leather-clad dining room, working mill and lovely gardens.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique B&B
  • 3
  • Breakfast only, walk to restaurants
  • Over 10s only
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

Walk in off the High Street into an Entrance Hall of exposed beams and antique furniture. This is the oldest part of the property, and comprises about a third of the original longhouse - formerly the servants' quarters. Ahead is the inglenook library room and honesty bar, upstairs, above a bespoke mural, live Matthew and Chris, and their friendly dog, Carlito.

There are just 3 theatrical bedrooms at Pelham Hall. All are named after an animal found in the room. So beamed Bantam, the smallest, has a vintage cockerel on its own pedestal. Next door is Labrador, with interconnecting double doors to Bantam so they can be taken as a 2-bedroom suite if desired. Labrador also features a collection of wall-mounted Georgian and Victorian plates, a separate private sitting room with mini-bar overlooking the garden, and its own entrance from the cobbled alleyway below. These 2 rooms face the road so have double glazing on the windows.

Christened for the gilt wall sconces, Phoenix, where we stayed, is in the newest section at the back and has its own private patio area in the garden accessed by French doors. We found the bed supremely comfortable. Super linen, proper big pillows and so quiet! We slept like babies.

Bathrooms are a delight: up to the minute with chunky tiles and drench showers. Bantam has a cute ensuite shower, Labrador's is beach hut inspired in colour and design. Phoenix is the only one with a tub and shower; we helped ourselves to the bubble bath kept in a cut glass decanter.

All rooms have an antique tea set with fresh cookies, bathrobes and slippers, water in a crystal carafe bedside, and complimentary toiletries by Eco-Boutique. Both Labrador and Phoenix can be made up as twin rooms.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Dvd player
  • Hairdryer
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Radio
  • Satellite tv
  • Slippers
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • Torch
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast is taken in the characterful dining room on the first floor complete with sloping floors and ancient beams. A delectable small buffet of yoghurt, home-made fruit compote and granola is to one side; choose your main dish from a simple menu. We opted for Matthew's signature Eggy Delight (oven-baked eggs with tomato and chorizo) and the super fluffy American pancakes - all served on gorgeous antique hand-painted porcelain along with tea, coffee, orange or apple juice. In summer, you can breakfast on the patio overlooking the garden with long views across the Sussex Weald.

A nice touch in all rooms is the provision of tea and coffee (and biscuits on dainty Victorian plates), which assist in the making-yourself-at-home vibe. There's also a classy honesty bar in the inglenook and library room, and if you're here on a Friday or Saturday night there are drinks and nibbles provided.

For other meals you'll need to eat out. Luckily there's a Michelin-starred restaurant, The Curlew, just 15 minutes drive away. We chose the very tasty fare at convivial The Bell in nearby Ticehurst village. For a traditional pub seek out Middle House in Mayfield. In the village of Burwash itself, the Bear Inn does straightforward pub grub.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Take in some historic properties nearby, many owned by the National Trust. In Burwash, Bateman's is Rudyard Kipling's 18th-century home, and has grounds, a tea shop and lots of memorabilia including his Nobel medal. Scotney Castle is a Victorian grand house and medieval ruined castle. Bodiam Castle is another ruined castle and moat. Charleston House hosted the bohemian Bloomsbury set

  • There are also wonderful gardens worth visiting. Pashley Manor is open April-October, Sissinghurst is Vita Sackville-West's masterpiece, and Great Dixter has a wonderful cottage garden

  • Potter about local towns for local shopping and antiques browsing. Rye, Lewes, Hastings and Tunbridge Wells are all within reach

  • The arts are enjoyed at the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings, opera at Glyndebourne, and the modernist De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill has music, dance and art

  • Head for the South Downs Way for a glorious country walk

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shopping / markets
  • Walking

Kids

This isn't a suitable place for small children to stay in - too many precious vintage pieces, no facilities for them and it is set up for couples - so only kids over 10 are permitted. There are no extra beds available.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

A family with older children would need to take both Labrador and Bantam rooms, which have an interconnecting door. Labrador has its own entrance, and can be configured as a twin.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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