The Sussex Black Shack

Ditchling, Sussex, United Kingdom Book from Book from £650 per night

At the foothills of the South Downs, a brand new high-spec eco-house for 2-5 with tennis court, indoor swimming pool and sauna
The Sussex village of Ditchling definitely punches above its weight. For starters, there's Ditchling Beacon, a high point in the South Downs and a notable challenge for cyclists. The brilliant Museum of Art + Craft showcases the work of pioneers such as Eric Gill who made this a creative early 20th-century hub. No fewer than four vineyards surround the village offering tours and tastings. And now it boasts a contemporary eco-cabin from which you can enjoy all this and more.

The dynamic owners have transformed one end of their long terraced garden with this unique Scandi-inspired building. It's a thing of beauty with burnt black larch walls, a bold red front door and jazzy angular roofs surrounded by wildflowers and an orchard. Inside is a generous hallway with patterned tiles, a living/dining/kitchen space with wood-burning stove and squashy sofas. Bi-fold doors open to an ebony wrap-around deck overlooking the newly resurfaced tennis court. Two bedrooms share an ample bathroom with large walk-in shower; one room can be a twin so the house works for friends or family. Best of all you get exclusive use of the owners' pool house which has a sauna, gym and a 13-metre indoor swimming pool. This is a knockout, and we’re thrilled to be spreading the word about this brilliant addition to delightful Ditchling.
Covid-19 update: some services and facilities may be changed as a result of Coronavirus measures.

Highs

  • A snazzy tennis court right beside the house and exclusive use of the owners' pool and sauna steps away
  • You're well located: the pub is a 10-minute walk, the railway station at Hassocks is a 10-minute drive and from there it's only an hour to London, buzzy Brighton is a 20-minute drive away
  • Lots to do in the vicinity: you're in the South Downs National Park for nature, walks and cycling
  • Interiors are finished to a high standard with good eco-credentials, yet it's all very liveable – there's underfloor heating throughout for example, the kitchen is very well-equipped
  • Flexible arrival and departure days, with a minimum stay of just 2 nights

Lows

  • Not much storage in the bedrooms, but we found the hall cupboards very useful
  • Be aware that the owners live behind their pool house (but the 3 acre gardens are landscaped so you feel very private, and the ‘shack’ has its own driveway). If you want more seclusion they also own a very popular lakeside cabin nearby
  • It was new when we visited, so the planting hadn't had time yet to flourish to full height

Best time to go

Although the South Downs are at their most delightful in the warmer months, they are also lovely in the cooler months with great walking and vineyards to visit.

Our top tips

This is a great spot to base yourself for notable local events such as Glyndebourne near Lewes; Brighton Festival and Brighton Fringe (the UK's 2nd largest arts festival); and the Artists Open Houses, also in Brighton. All are within 30 mins, and even Goodwood, which hosts the Festivals of Speed and Glorious Goodwood in July, is under an hour away.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Cottage
  • 2 bedrooms
  • Self-catering; restaurants nearby
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Indoor Pool
  • Sauna
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Tennis Court
  • Electric car charger
  • Fire pit
Room:

Rooms

The angular-roofed house forms a T in layout. Its long spur consists of the large entranceway, which has excellent storage for all outdoor gear and tennis kit, plus a lovely tiled floor extending into the bathroom. Turn right into the warm open-plan living room and kitchen that has big cream L-shaped sofas (super comfy for lounging) facing the wood-burning stove (logs are supplied) and bi-fold doors to the deck. Wooden floors are white ash; colours range from smokey blue to rich navy offset with mustards and barleys – all very Scandi-chic.

Along the top spur of the T two double bedrooms bookend the bathroom; both have super-kingsize beds, note the bedroom opening onto the rear deck can be configured as a twin. We loved the large bathroom with its big walk-in shower, brass fixtures, and gorgeous marine-coloured wall tiles. The wrap-around black-planked deck has a couple of Adirondack chairs; pleasingly there's a purple and green planting scheme to complement the tennis court.

Features include:

  • Barbecue
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Dishwasher
  • Firepit
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob or stove
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Radio
  • Satellite TV
  • Swimming pool
  • Terrace
  • Toaster
  • Toiletries
  • Tumble dryer
  • Washing machine
  • WiFi
  • Wood-burning stove (logs provided)

Eating

Cooking in the sleek and compact kitchen is a joy. There's everything you need from a top-of-the-range coffee machine to a convection hob and separate oven and microwave. The quartz counter-top sits above units in the same strong smart blue matching the feature wall in the living area. Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, sugar, salt and pepper plus cleaning materials are provided. The wooden dining table sits eight in comfort with built in tongue-and-groove benches on two sides. Bi-fold doors open to the deck outside, which has another table and trestles for eight overlooking the tennis court, as well as a gas barbecue and a big Smeg fridge-freezer for al fresco dining.

Supplies are easily purchased in Hassocks (a 5-10-minute drive away) which has a couple of supermarkets, cafes, takeaways and pubs. You can also arrange for a food delivery or hampers on request. Ditchling village itself has two pubs – we recommend The Bull for modern British food sourced from local farm estates and boats landing at Sussex ports, plus their hearty Sunday roasts – as well as a coffee shop and a tea room.

Features include:

  • Barbecue
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Dishwasher
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob or stove
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Toaster
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • The private pool house, accessed up through a gap in the hedge to the rear, has a heated swimming pool, sauna (allow 30 minutes for it to warm up) and gym equipment; it's surrounded by lawns and hedges and there's a fire pit too
  • It would be a shame to stay here and not play on the tennis court! Racquets and balls are supplied
  • Go on a vineyard tour and tasting; there are 4 wineries in Ditchling, this is English sparkling wine country
  • The South Downs are a mecca for walkers and cyclists; the Sussex Border Path is very close by and footpaths lead from the house to the South Downs Way. You can hire e-bikes locally
  • Nearby nature reserves include Ditchling Beacon and Stoneywish
  • If you tire of country pursuits, cosmopolitan seaside Brighton is just over the Downs – which has excellent shopping in The Lanes, the iconic Brighton Pavilion, the equally iconic Palace Pier and funfair, the famous beach, the i360 observation tower, and plenty of bars, restaurants and clubs

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Historical sites
  • Horse riding
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Wildlife

Kids

Families with school-age kids will enjoy staying here. We'd say it's ideal for outdoorsy and sporty families with the tennis court and indoor swimming pool, plus the attractions of the South Downs. The house is less well set up for toddlers with the pool house and unfenced deck. Note that you'll have to bring your own travel cot if coming with a baby.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

The bedroom facing the rear deck can be configured as a twin. There's space for one rollaway bed if you are a family of five.

Baby equipment:

  • High chair

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kids Activities on site:

  • Tennis court
  • Pool house with 13m swimming pool and sauna
  • Lawn and orchard to play in
  • Smart satellite TV

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Brighton beach, pier and i360 observation tower
  • See working steam trains on the Bluebell Railway heritage line (25 minutes)
  • Walks on the South Downs
  • Horse-riding
  • Cycling
  • Nature reserves
  • Washbrooks Farm in Hurstpierpoint
  • Ditchling Museum
  • Monkey Business in Lewes
  • Lewes Castle
  • Drusilla's Zoo in Alfriston

Families Should Know:

The pool house is fully enclosed. Parents must stay with primary school age kids and younger at all times. Young children must not use the sauna or the running machine. Be mindful of small kids around the stove.

Distances:

  • Airport: 35 minutes
  • Hospital: 15 minutes (Haywards Heath)
  • Shops: 5 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Location

Location
The Sussex Black Shack is on the outskirts of the village of Ditchling, which is in East Sussex (close to the border with West Sussex), within the South Downs National Park.

By Car:
You'll most likely have a car to get about and make the most of the area. If you want to hire a car, see our recommendations. There's parking on-site for 2 cars.

By Train:
The nearest railway station, Hassocks, is on the main London-Brighton line and is a 10-minute drive. You can get a taxi from the station.

By Air:
London Gatwick (35 minutes' drive) is your best bet; otherwise try London Heathrow (60 minutes' drive).

Detailed directions will be sent when you book through i-escape.

Airports:

  • London Gatwick 40.0 km LGW
  • London Heathrow Airport 98.0 km LHR

Other:

  • Beach 14.0 km
  • Shops 5.0 km
  • Restaurant 2.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
10/10
Service
9/10
Value
10/10
Overall

We had an amazing time. The tennis shed is immaculately designed and furnished and the owners really have thought of everything. There were tennis rackets for the whole family, inflatables in the pool for the kids and extra thoughtful touches of gin and marshmallows. The pool itself is amazing. Beautifully fitted and kitted out and it was a real luxury to have it to ourselves. We loved everything about the place and will definitely come again

9/10,

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