“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 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.
- 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
- 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
Our top tips
- Boutique Cottage
- 2 bedrooms
- Self-catering; restaurants nearby
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Indoor Pool
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Daily Maid Service
- Towels & Bedlinen
- Tennis Court
- Electric car charger
- Fire pit
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.
- Central heating
- Coffee / tea making
- Full kitchen
- Hob or stove
- Satellite TV
- Swimming pool
- Tumble dryer
- Washing machine
- Wood-burning stove (logs provided)
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.
- Coffee / tea making
- Full kitchen
- Hob or stove
- Restaurants nearby
- 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:
- Historical sites
- Horse riding
- Plantlife / flora
- Shopping / markets
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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
- Airport: 35 minutes
- Hospital: 15 minutes (Haywards Heath)
- Shops: 5 minutes
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.
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.
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.
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.
- London Gatwick 40.0 km LGW
- London Heathrow Airport 98.0 km LHR
- Beach 14.0 km
- Shops 5.0 km
- Restaurant 2.0 km