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Elisabeth Rushton spends an indulgent weekend at Bailiffscourt Hotel and Spa on England's south coast

A Seaside Spa

Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa is one of the most charming hotels on the south coast of England. Composed of seven medieval-style buildings with 39 rooms (an underground tunnel connects the two largest), the hotel is set in 30 acres of parkland tucked away on one side of the tiny village of Climping, West Sussex.

Bailiffscourt lavender path

The hotel was completed as a medieval folly by Lord Moyne (originally Walter Guinness of the brewing family) and his wife Evelyn in the 1930s, using sandstone from a crumbling farmhouse and a 15th century vast oak door from South Warnborough Chapel. Moyne bought the land after falling for the pebbly coastline and hearing that the council planned a housing estate on the site.

The result is a series of buildings featuring courtyards, mullioned windows, heavy wood doors, the occasional creaking floorboard, strange tunnels to thatched cottages, and lots of nooks and crannies. It has been a hotel since 1948, and its name comes from the bailiff who once oversaw the chapel.


Four-poster at Bailiffscourt Hotel

One of the unique features of the property is that it is dog friendly, without caveats. So often hotels allow pets, but make it pretty unappealing to bring them by tacking on extra costs, including pet restrictions or offering limited room options. Here, however, we took our Pomeranian pup and he was as thrilled as we were at the prospect of a night in a gigantic four-poster bed. Our gorgeous suite was decorated in a medieval style, with tapestries, a wood burning stove, leaded windows and vaulted ceiling. The room has a modern, comfortable feel to it and also includes a large bathroom with a separate bathtub and a walk-in shower.

Bailiffscourt house and spa building

Outdoors, the setting is incredibly peaceful. Sitting in the herb garden, sipping tea after a stroll along the quiet beach and a chilly dip in the channel, all my husband and I could hear was a birdsong and the occasional cry of a resident peacock. After tea, we visited the spa, which is a destination in itself, not merely an adjunct to the hotel. The lobby area is spacious and relaxing with glass walls that look out to two pools and the garden beyond. The indoor pool has a large Jacuzzi at its far end with sauna and steam rooms to one side. Gentle grassy banks shelter the outdoor pool, hot tub and a garden sports bluebells, daffodils and rabbits. There is also a small, but perfectly-formed, gym.


Spa pool at Bailiffscourt Hotel


The spa offers six treatment rooms, and all therapies follow a Mediterranean theme with the use of natural Temple Spa aromatherapy oil products, and are exceptional. I experienced an aptly named ‘Drift Away’ treatment, blissed out on the top of a cotton sheet on a cushioned waterbed. This treatment allows you to lie in idyllic stillness for 90 minutes, and whilst your body soaks up the oils, your face is treated to an hour of attention. My therapist concentrated on gently sweeping away the toxins from just under the surface of the skin around the eyes – the toxins that are responsible for causing dark skin and puffiness. I looked as though I had had an eye-lift afterwards, so effective was the treatment.


When it comes to food, the hotel’s fine dining restaurant serves English cuisine with a French twist. There is a strong commitment to using quality, locally-sourced ingredients from Sussex, and the hotel fosters strong ties with local producers. Try the salmon starter (smoked and cured on site) and a delicious rack of lamb from nearby Goodwood, with glazed baby turnips, leeks and Chantenay carrots for your main course. The breakfast offerings are bountiful as well and includes items such as eggs, bacon, porridge, fresh juices, fruit, yogurt and coffee.

Dining room Bailiffscourt Hotel


Bailiffscourt is probably the most relaxing, comfortable, well-run place that I’ve visited in the English countryside. To say I’m hesitant to even mention its existence (for fear of it getting overcrowded), is an understatement. But, this secret is just too good not to share.


Stays at Bailiffscourt Hotel and Spa are from £229 per night, based on two sharing a Classic Double Room, mid-week, on a B&B basis.

Bailiffscourt Hotel and Spa, Climping Street, Climping, Nr Arundel, West Sussex BN17 5RW; 01903 723511

Photo credits: Bailiffscourt Hotel and Spa – a Pride of Britain Hotel



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