An escape to the Sussex countryside with Oliver’s Travels proves to be as addictive as it is indulgent
How do you know when you have reached peak ‘pampered princess’? When you’re luxuriating in an enormous roll top copper bath on the second floor of your bedroom and vaguely fretting about how you’re going to fit another soak in this weekend, when you also need to factor in time for a swim in the heated pool, a glass of wine by the enormous Inglenook fireplace, a game of tennis on the grass court and an exploration of the surrounding Sussex countryside. Decisions, decisions … it’s all too much. I take another sip of Champagne and sink further into the bath’s scented bubbles.
Put simply, a weekend is not enough time in which to enjoy Elizabethan Manor, a glorious seven-bedroom property which was built in 1252 and is exclusively available through Oliver’s Travels, a luxury holiday rental company with over 6,000 handpicked properties worldwide. You could spend hours simply drifting from room to room, oohing over each exquisite piece of antique furniture, each carefully curated shelf and each design detail. The property has been lovingly and tastefully restored to seamlessly blend the best of period and contemporary – the high-spec kitchen, for example, is flooded with light by towering mullioned windows, while the rough-textures of stone fireplaces, raw brick and wooden beams are offset by plump sofas and sumptuous throws.
When we do manage to tear ourselves away from the property and its 1.4 acres of grounds, it is worth the effort. In nearby Arundel, we explore the majestic medieval castle which has overlooked the River Arun since 1067 and rifle through floor after floor of treasure at the nearby antiques store. On a visit to Knepp Park and Estate, we are guided by award-winning wildlife photographer David Plummer on a walking safari, on which we spot timid deer and enormous white cranes – although the state of hush we adopt so as not to startle the wildlife rapidly dissipates with a later wine tasting at Tinwood Estate. The following day, we alternate between the roar and pace of Goodwood Members’ Meeting and the sedate comfort of Goodwood’s Private Members’ Club, The Kennels.
As delightful as all of this is, it’s coming back to the manor that sees us all breathing sighs of blissful contentment. Despite its impressive history (Queen Elizabeth I stayed here in 1591) there’s also a genuine sense of homeliness and comfort here: to return to its delicately scented rooms really does feel like coming home.
Small wonder that we are in no rush to go out to eat – instead, we gather around the kitchen table with wine while
DineIndulge (dineindulge.co.uk) prepare a three-course meal for us, as arranged by Oliver’s Travel’s concierge service. True – food prep would scarcely be a hardship in a kitchen such as this, but to have private chefs is even more in keeping with the lifestyle to which we are rapidly – perhaps dangerously – becoming accustomed. As previously mentioned – a weekend is simply not long enough. One last soak in that ludicrously decadent bath sees me squinting at a steamed-up screen to see where – from Oliver’s Travels’ portfolio of chateaux, villas and farmhouses – I can stay next. After all, why stop at a manor?
The property sleeps 14. Visit www.oliverstravels.com
By Sarah Rodrigues