New this year as a bed and breakfast is Little Norlington Barn, an 18th-century Sussex barn on a tranquil country lane just a few miles outside Lewes.
‘We had no plans to become a B&B when we moved here three years ago,’ says owner Sandra Clement, ‘but we’ve really enjoyed having guests this summer, most of whom are coming for Glyndebourne Opera, which is two miles away.’
The barn’s layout works perfectly as a bed and breakfast. ‘I think people want their privacy these days even if they are in a bed and breakfast and the layout makes that possible here,’ says Sandra. At one end of the barn is a king-size bedroom with en-suite bathroom up its own private staircase and at the other end is a suite, again up its own private staircase. This consists of a double bedroom with small sitting room and a luxurious new shower room. There is also a separate apartment in the grounds, in what was once a milking parlour. This has a living room/dining room/kitchen, a large double bedroom, shower room and its own patio.
‘The rooms in the barn are full of oak beams, the Milking Parlour is light and contemporary, and all our rooms have beautiful South Downs views,’ explains Sandra. ‘We offer a peaceful rural stay while still being close to Lewes and not far from Brighton.’
Has Sandra found anything hard about doing bed and breakfast? ‘Yes, I’m not naturally a morning person and you have to be chirpy, motivated and organised early in the morning with guests. However, just a glance at the spectacular view and, I know it might sound silly, but you can’t feel grumpy after that – it uplifts you!’
Little Norlington Barn is one of the few places to stay in the Lewes area that accepts dogs – though only in the Milking Parlour apartment. ‘It wouldn’t be fair to my two deerhounds to have other dogs in the barn,’ explains Sandra. Rora and Orchy have been a hit with guests all summer. ‘Guests have been quite amused by Rora, who barely leaves her sofa in the hall. She is so lazy! Fortunately, most guests don’t mind about the dogs in the least, even though they are huge, but we are happy to keep them out of the way if guests let us know that dogs aren’t their thing.’
It isn’t just the dogs that guests seem to like about the barn. Sandra’s homemade granola is a particular favourite, along with her lemon drizzle cake, homemade spelt bread (husband Miles is the baker) and the sausages and bacon from Holmansbridge Farm.
Where would Sandra recommend guests visit while they are in East Sussex? ‘Definitely Charleston – it’s so zany, Nymans is lovely and there are lots of other National Trust properties and gardens not too far away. I haven’t done Sheffield Park yet but everyone says it’s great – I have that on my list. My background is in wine, so I would obviously suggest people visit some of our fabulous local vineyards, such as Nyetimber, Bluebell, Ridgeview and Breaky Bottom. Walking in the South Downs National Park is wonderful any time of the year – the Cuckmere Valley is stunning.’
So if you need accommodation, visit the group’s website, www.shortstaylewes.com, where you will find a range of wonderful accommodation and a warm welcome. The following bed and breakfasts can be found in and around Lewes and are part of the new group of quality-approved bed and breakfasts for the Lewes area: Beechwood B&B, Halland; Little Norlington Barn B&B, Ringmer; White Lodge B&B, Cooksbridge; The Corner House B&B, Lewes; Murrells B&B, Lewes; Aleberry B&B, Lewes; Berkeley House B&B, Lewes; no11 B&B, Lewes.