Home Hotel reviewsCountry house hotels Gourmet stay at Gravetye Manor hotel, a West Sussex gem

Gourmet stay at Gravetye Manor hotel, a West Sussex gem

This Michelin star hotel with award-winning gardens has 17 luxury bedrooms deep in Sussex countryside

by Sarah Bridge
Gravetye Manor hotel

A stay at Gravetye Manor

When I first arrived at Gravetye Manor hotel, the Michelin-starred country house in Sussex with award-winning gardens, I soon decided that this was one of the best hotels in Sussex and when I was fortunate to revisit recently, there was nothing to make me revise my opinion.

Like other hotels I’ve stayed in which have excellent food, stunning gardens and great hospitality, a stay at Gravetye Manor will stay with you for years afterwards.

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view from lake at Gravetye Manor hotel

Gravetye Manor hotel lies in the heart of the 1,000 acre Gravetye Estate which makes it perfect for country walks

Located deep in the heart of woodland just south of East Grinstead, West Sussex, the long, winding drive to the front door will set the scene for a memorable stay.

Consistently named on lists of the best hotels in Britain, Gravetye Manor has 17 bedrooms (each named after a tree on the estate) as well as the Robinson Suite – named after the famous gardener who created Gravetye Manor’s stunning gardens.

gravetye manor gardens in the sunshine

Gravetye Manor dates back more than 300 years and has a beautifully traditional atmosphere

Like the best hotels, it is steeped in history too: Gravetye Manor was built in 1598 by Richard Infield for his bride, Katherine Compton, and the initials R and K can be seen in the stone over the main entrance door to the formal garden.

the gardens at Gravetye Manor hotel

The gardens at Gravetye Manor are a mix of manicured lawn (with the occasional bench or table making it perfect for lunch or afternoon tea, or just soaking up the sun) and the beautiful wildflower gardens surrounding it

Arriving at Gravetye Manor hotel

The reason for my much anticipated return – I first wrote a review of Gravetye Manor several years ago – was the then new restaurant at Gravetye Manor which moved the dining room from the front of the hotel to the back, where glass walls mean you can appreciate gardener Tom Coward’s stunning wildflower gardens while enjoying some seriously good food (much of which is grown in Gravetye’s own kitchen gardens).

Visit Gravetye Manor on Tripadvisor

As we arrived at lunchtime, we could first enjoy Gravetye Manor’s lovely al fresco dining on its beautiful lawn, enjoying the catch of the day in glorious sunshine where the only sound to hear was distant birdsong.

With a variety of tables scattered around the gardens you can enjoy dining outside or in the hotel’s sitting rooms from 10am to 10pm and sitting outside in the sunshine over a long lunch or afternoon tea is the perfect way to start your stay. Gravetye Manor hotel is a traditional country house in the best way, meaning attentive staff, attention to detail and traditional furnishings, but no spa, pool or treatment rooms – the gardens and food are the main draws here.

Outdoor dining in the gardens at Gravetye Manor

Outdoor dining in the gardens at Gravetye Manor

gravetye manor fish

Garden dining at its finest at Gravetye Manor

Gravetye Manor lunch

The lunch menu is a regularly-updated mix of light dishes – roast and blanched garden vegetables, smoked salmon and capers, ducks eggs or mackerel pate – alongside sandwiches, desserts and main courses which included catch of the day with mashed potato, beurre blanc noisettes and garden vegetables, or even fillet steak with triple-cooked chips.

I opted for the catch of the day which was delicious and only increased the anticipated for the evening meal, and with a glass of white wine was perfectly set up to enjoy a relaxing afternoon in the country.

Gravetye Manor gardens

It is the gardens which first made Gravetye Manor famous, thanks to William Robinson who bought Gravetye and the 1,000 acres it stands in in 1884, and his pioneering style of enhancing the natural beauty of the garden and woods can still be seen today.

gravetye manor hotel garden and trees

It is hard to imagine a prettier spot for some al fresco dining then Gravetye Manor’s gardens

Even if – like me – you know nothing about plants, you will love being surrounded by Gravetye’s beautiful gardens and for aficionados there are events run throughout the year by head gardener Tom Coward.

The gardens at Gravetye Manor

The gardens at Gravetye Manor are stunning from every angle

Why not check out some more of my reviews of hotels with beautiful gardens?




gravetye manor gardens seen from Pear bedroom

The view from our bedroom window at Gravetye Manor

Gravetye Manor afternoon tea

Both the gardens and the lounges inside Gravetye Manor are just perfect for afternoon tea and there were several parties enjoying afternoon tea at Gravetye Manor both inside and out.

Afternoon tea at a country house hotel is a real treat if done properly and Gravetye Manor afternoon tea looked like the real deal, served on a proper cake stand with sandwiches, scones, clotted cream, jam and a selection of cakes and petit-fours.

Gravetye Manor afternoon tea

Afternoon tea is a great tradition at all British country house hotels and Gravetye Manor is no exception

lounge at Gravetye Manor

If you’re not a fan of too much fresh air then there are lots of lovely rooms in Gravetye Manor where you can find a spot to enjoy a book or a spot of afternoon tea.

Bedrooms at Gravetye Manor

When we finally dragged ourselves away from the gardens to our bedroom, the expansive Pear at the top of the hotel, we were delighted to still be able to enjoy them thanks to the stunning view from our window.

Many Gravetye bedrooms have window seats so you can curl up with a book while soaking up the scene and Pear was no exception: the huge room also contained a sofa, large table, dressing table and an immaculate bathroom with walk-in shower and a stand-alone bath.

best hotels in west sussex gravetye manor pear bedroom

We stayed in Pear bedroom in the eaves of Gravetye Manor

best hotels in west sussex gravetye bath

The traditional tin bath in our en-suite bathroom

There were all the trappings of a luxury hotel room, from fluffy towels and posh toiletries to magazines, coffee and tea-making facilities, smart TV and digital radio and it was lovely changing for dinner in such opulent surroundings.

Dinner at Gravetye Manor

Dinner, of course, is a highlight of a stay at Gravetye Manor and the new restaurant was far lighter and airier than the previous dining room. Depending on what time of year you visit, you might even get to enjoy the garden view throughout your meal but we had to wait for breakfast for that as the sun had already set.

There were several menus to choose from, including a Time and Place menu at £95, which listed courses such as ‘Sea Floor – scallop, seaweed’ and ‘Open Water – sea bass, caviar’ and there were both wine and tea-pairings options to accompany the menu.

Gravetye Manor restaurant

Thanks to some clever interior design and architecture, Gravetye Manor restaurant is as impressive as its food and its gardens

native lobster with fennel

My starter of native lobster with fennel

We were dining from the monthly three-course menu (£80) but this being Gravetye, we enjoyed far more than three courses, starting with a delicious prawn tempura and lime gel, carrot terrine with cumin mayonnaise, a beetroot cloud with rose gel and beetroot terrine with goats cheese before we’d even started on the dishes themselves.

These ranged from roasted Norfolk quail, native lobster with fennel, to mains of smoked roe of local Roe venison, cabbage, leeks and black garlic and Creedy Carver duck with cherries, buckwheat, honey and cauliflower.

dinner at Gravetye Manor of smoked roe of local Roe venison, cabbage, leeks and black garlic

My main course of smoked roe of local Roe venison, cabbage, leeks and black garlic

They were all cooked and served to perfection, as you’d expect from a Michelin-starred restaurant (but without any of the long wait between courses as you sometimes get at this level) and the whole meal was flawless from start to finish, a credit to head chef George Blogg and his team.

cheese trolley at Gravetye Manor

The rather fabulous cheese trolley

beetroot terrine with goat's cheese

One of several amuse-bouche – this is beetroot terrine with goat’s cheese

Some more off-menu treats appeared before dessert: a raspberry sorbet with chocolate crumb, and then while my dining companion tucked into a faultness sorbet I couldn’t resist the cheese board which had been such a highlight of my previous visit.

I choose a taste each of Barkham Blue, Sharpham Creamet and Cerney Ash from the impressive range and wondered how I was ever going to find room for breakfast or even stagger up the stairs to bed.

In spite of such feasting I slept well thanks to a deeply comfortable bed and really good quality bed linen and after an indulgence wallow in the deep tin tub I emerged ready to tackle breakfast.

Gravetye Manor breakfast

Breakfast menu at Gravetye Manor

Breakfast menu at Gravetye Manor

Again, the level of hospitality really stood out: staff greeted us a cheerful ‘good morning’ as we headed to the restaurant; we were instantly seated, excellent coffee arrived in seconds and the cooked options were great, especially the traditional English breakfast with pork sausage, Smoked Dingley Dell back bacon and award-winning black pudding from Stornoway.

Thankfully the weather remained glorious and we were in no rush to leave, instead walking off breakfast with an epic trek around the gardens and into the wildflower meadows and woods beyond, where you will feel miles from anywhere.

A stay at Gravetye Manor hotel is not cheap but you will remember it for years afterwards – I have stayed in more than 200 luxury hotels in the UK now and it is still one of my all-time favourites.

Gravetye Manor hotel grounds

Gravetye Manor hotel looks great from every angle

Hotel information and to book Gravetye Manor

Gravetye Manor, Vowels Lane, West Hoalthy, Sussex RH19 4LJ
Tel: 01342 810 567

Gravetye Manor is a member of the PoB Hotels chain, which is a collection of 50 of some of the best hotels in Britain. Spend time exploring the hotel’s 1,000 acres which include a stunning wildflower meadow, two-acre walled vegetable garden and an orchard with 32 varieties of apple.

Visit Gravetye Manor on Tripadvisor

Other member hotels from the Pride of Britain Hotels group reviewed by ALadyofLeisure.com include: The Headland hotel, Cornwall: luxury in the heart of Newquay; A relaxing stay at Stapleford Park hotel, golf and spa, Leicestershire; Park House hotel and spa, a West Sussex secret (but not for much longer)

If you want to read more reviews of luxury hotels with Michelin-starred restaurants then check out my reviews of: Whatley Manor hotel and spa: one of the best hotels in the Cotswolds; Hambleton Hall, Rutland: a food-lovers delight; Maison Talbooth, a perfect Essex stay; Hampton Manor, West Midlands: Michelin-star luxury; Lucknam Park near Bath: my very own Palladium mansion for the night

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