Review: Inside Wingrove House, a colonial-style hotel in the heart of East Sussex

Review: Inside Wingrove House, a colonial-style hotel in the heart of East Sussex 2
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The Star hotel, Alex Polizzi’s venture showcased on her Channel 5 show, may have put Alfriston on the hospitality map, but it’s not the only decent place to stay in this East Sussex village.

At the other end of the High Street is Wingrove House, itself recently renovated and extended to create a 16-room boutique bolthole. Overlooking the green to the spire of St Andrew’s (the renowned ‘Cathedral of the Downs’), it puts guests immediately in the centre of village life.

Wingrove House is that rarest of finds: an independently owned hotel that’s characterful, well run and smart. You’ll find traditional country comforts offered with a fresh, contemporary flair.

James Litston checks into Wingrove House in the East Sussex village of Alfriston. Pictured is the hotel's colonial-style exterior

James Litston checks into Wingrove House in the East Sussex village of Alfriston. Pictured is the hotel’s colonial-style exterior 

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The hotel is located near the South Downs and the famous Seven Sisters cliffs, above

The hotel is located near the South Downs and the famous Seven Sisters cliffs, above

The property comprises a Victorian villa (complete with colonial-style, galleried facade) and an adjoining terrace of period, flint-built cottages. In keeping with the main building’s heritage, the decor is classic but playfully executed, so it feels up-to-date and stylish.

Mounted antlers, touches of tartan and a palette of cool, earthy tones give the overall impression of a traditional hunting lodge.

That theme is subtly carried to the spacious and bright guest rooms via cushions with game-bird motifs. Seven guest rooms are in the main house, with the remainder carved into the cottages. No two are alike, though nearly all enjoy views of the garden or village green, and each has its own unique quirk.

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In the main house, for example, two rooms share access to the New Orleans-style balcony, while some of the cottage rooms are duplex. Others have huge, free-standing bathtubs. Sizes range across four categories and beyond to the top suite, The Churchill Room.

The finest: The hotel boasts 16 rooms, which are spread across the main house and adjoining cottages. Pictured is The Churchill Room, the top suite

The finest: The hotel boasts 16 rooms, which are spread across the main house and adjoining cottages. Pictured is The Churchill Room, the top suite 

James describes the rooms as 'bright and spacious'. Pictured is one of the Premium Deluxe rooms

James describes the rooms as ‘bright and spacious’. Pictured is one of the Premium Deluxe rooms 

Days at Wingrove House begin with breakfast in the airy restaurant that doubles in size on fine mornings by opening on to a garden terrace.

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Tucked behind thick hedges and shaded by olive trees and that galleried veranda, this sunny, south-facing space is equally lovely for lunches or afternoon tea.

In the evenings, a bistro-style menu covers all the bases with the likes of beef fillet for traditionalists or cauliflower steak for more avant-garde tastes. 

Meals here aren’t cheap, but their calibre, presentation and generous portions make them excellent value. The breakfast menu ticks all the boxes, from full English to avo on toast.

The airy restaurant doubles in size on fine mornings by opening on to a garden terrace, pictured

The airy restaurant doubles in size on fine mornings by opening on to a garden terrace, pictured

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In the evenings, James says 'a bistro-style menu covers all the bases with the likes of beef fillet for traditionalists or cauliflower steak for more avant-garde tastes'. The hotel also offers afternoon teas (above)

In the evenings, James says ‘a bistro-style menu covers all the bases with the likes of beef fillet for traditionalists or cauliflower steak for more avant-garde tastes’. The hotel also offers afternoon teas (above)

Local flavours feature proudly, especially in the form of spirits, soft drinks, coffee and sparkling wines from neighbouring businesses.

To meet the makers, head up the hill to the cellar door at Rathfinny Wine Estate (rathfinnyestate.com), or take a pleasant, mile-long stroll along the river to Litlington, home to the Long Man Brewery and Liquid Spirit Coffee Roasters. 

There’s also an e-bike rental station (cadence cycle.club) to make light work of pedalling up the South Downs, or down to the coast for that most famous of East Sussex landmarks: the Seven Sisters cliffs.

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Round off the day back at Wingrove House, relaxing in the cosy lounge – ideally with a celebratory glass of Sussex sparkling.

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