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

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The Star hotel, Alex Polizzi’s enterprise showcased on her Channel 5 show, can have put Alfriston on the hospitality map, nevertheless it’s not the one decent place to remain on this East Sussex village.

At the opposite end of the High Street is Wingrove House, itself recently renovated and prolonged 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 within the centre of village life.

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

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

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

The hotel is positioned 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 step with the principal constructing’s heritage, the decor is classic but playfully executed, so it feels up-to-date and trendy.

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

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

Within the principal house, for instance, two rooms share access to the Recent Orleans-style balcony, while a few of the cottage rooms are duplex. Others have huge, free-standing bathtubs. Sizes range across 4 categories and beyond to the highest 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 best: The hotel boasts 16 rooms, that are spread across the principal house and adjoining cottages. Pictured is The Churchill Room, the highest suite 

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

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

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

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.

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

Meals here aren’t low-cost, but their calibre, presentation and generous portions make them excellent value. The breakfast menu ticks all of 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 fantastic mornings by opening on to a garden terrace, pictured

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)

Within the evenings, James says ‘a bistro-style menu covers all of 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 shape of spirits, soft drinks, coffee and sparkling wines from neighbouring businesses.

To satisfy the makers, head up the hill to the cellar door at Rathfinny Wine Estate (rathfinnyestate.com), or take a pleasing, 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 all the way down to the coast for that the majority famous of East Sussex landmarks: the Seven Sisters cliffs.

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

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