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An escape to the country has to have the following hallmarks; rolling hills, woodland walks and cosy pubs. These Sussex destinations have it all.
If you fancy filling your lungs with some fresh country air, Sussex is full of pretty, sleepy UK villages that provide the perfect break from the daily grind.
South East destinations – and Sussex locations in particular – regularly top the charts of the happiest places to live in the UK. Referencing Halifax’s Quality of Life Index for 2020’s top 20 places to live, almost 50% were in the South East – thanks to its convenient proximity to both London and other parts of the UK, milder climate and picturesque green spaces.
Being close to nature obviously counts for a lot when it comes to happiness. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the happiest places to live in the UK are mostly in rural locations, on the coast or within national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. And great weather doesn’t hurt either. Sussex is officially the sunniest place you can live in the UK, according to decades’ worth of Met Office records.
With more and more awareness of how our travel plans impact the environment, the staycation is here to stay. And that’s no bad thing, with so many beautiful parts of the country to explore. Sussex is full of pretty towns, some with their own individual attractions and some with little else to do aside from explore the stunning countryside (which may well be just what you’re looking for!) These are the prettiest UK villages in Sussex, if you’re planning a mini-break to this beautiful part of the country.
Prettiest UK villages: West Sussex
Beautiful Bolney is on wine aficionados’ must-do’ list thanks to its beautiful vineyard and winery, producing award-winning white, red, rose and sparkling wines.
Take a tour around the vineyard and pick up a bottle or two to sample some delicious English wines. Then finish off the day with lunch in the vineyard’s restaurant, serving delicious seasonal food.
For a Sussex spa day, try a visit to Ockenden Manor & Spa, which is built inside a 19th century walled garden, within nine acres of parklands and gardens. Spa days from £112, including a treatment and afternoon tea.
Warninglid is close by to busy Brighton, but retains its old-world charm with beautiful 15th and 16th architecture on its pretty cobbled streets. Nearby you’ll also find the historic towns of Chichester and Arundel, as well as the famous Goodwood racecourse.
The local Half Moon pub is famous in the area for its gourmet food. It’s a historic 19th-century pub with an original well and an open fire, serving Modern British cuisine alongside a warm welcome.
Where to stay in West Sussex
Lydhurst Cottages are a stunning collection of cottages within walking distance of the Half Moon pub and local village Warninglid, situated in a magnificent country estate with beautiful parklands and woodlands surrounding the properties. Upon entering the grand gates, you enter a calm and serene woodland space, that feels much further than just an hour away from central London. Among the woods and fields are a variety of holiday homes, each with their own individual character, gardens, a tennis court, communal games room and plenty of places to explore. Trails and footpaths out into the countryside surround the Estate, inviting guests to explore the local area on foot.
Mission House is located in the Weald of the Lyndhurst Estate, with five bedrooms and a huge open-plan living space for guests to enjoy.
This stunning holiday home has a gothic feel, with an ornate wrought iron spiral staircase leads upstairs to the romantic master suite – and a bath in its striking bay window, overlooking the parkland, is a must. Venture outside and you’ll find a shared tennis court and communal games room, which is perfect for occupying restless kids and teens.
Book now: Mission House
The Aunt’s House is a refined country home just yards away from Mission House. The property has been recently renovated to fuse classic architectural features with modern conveniences.
Beautifully decorated throughout and with finishing touches like underfloor heating, this is the perfect place for a luxurious home away from home.
Book now: Aunt’s House
Prettiest UK villages: East Sussex
Litlington is the place to go for plant lovers. Take a stroll into the village centre and to explore Litlington Nursery, which sells shrubs, climbers, perennials and grasses. Afterwards, unwind with a cup of tea at the sweet traditional tea room next door.
A wildlife lover’s dream, Forest Row is the perfect place to escape the business of everyday life.
Next to Ashdown Forest, an English woodland area steeped in history. During Tudor times, it was used by the royals and nobility as a hunting ground, and Henry VIII had a hunting lodge at nearby Bolebroke Castle.
Weir Wood Reservoir, a High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is the perfect place for bird watching. The reservoir boasts one of the largest bodies of water in the county, bringing with it a diverse community of breeding, wintering and passing birds.
Pretty Alfriston, is a small and cosy uk village, where you can enjoy wandering around its sleepy streets. The village square is picturesque, with a number of local cafes and shops to enjoy. Sip a cup of tea while leafing through a classic read from the village’s quirky bookshop.
Where to stay in East Sussex
Close to nearby small village Maresfield, Priors Barn has everything you need for a romantic weekend getaway for two. A beautifully converted barn, with window views out to woodland and the banks of a babbling stream.
It may feel like you’re miles away from civilisation, but there are local amenities nearby (10 miles), should you need to pop out for bread and milk. Ashdown Forest, with its expanse of wildlife and walking routes, is also closeby. Enjoy the spacious decking area surrounded by woods – a true escape to nature!
Book now: Priors Barn
For something more spacious for bigger groups, the Nutley Farmhouse in Uckfield sleeps eight and is pet-friendly, should your furry friends be joining you on the trip.
For a spot of culture, visit the nearby Glyndebourne Opera, an English country house, the site of an opera house that, since 1934, has been the venue for the annual Glyndebourne Festival Opera. The property is also within walking distance of Nutley Village, with plenty of shops and restaurants to discover.
Book now: Nutley Farmhouse