Bed and breakfast Amarisa has flowers and the garden as its theme and it’s down to owner Paul Ely, who is passionate about gardening and used to work for a flower seed company. He and wife Katie have been running Amarisa since 2012, when they moved to Berwick from Oxfordshire to start a bed and breakfast when their children had flown the nest.
‘We have an enormous conservatory at the rear of the house, which guests can use to relax in and watch the birds and hopefully admire the garden!’ says Paul. Inspired by a visit to
Monet’s garden, Paul also created a colourful and scented cottage garden at the front of the house.
Amarisa has three rooms, naturally with garden themes: Floral Garden and Woodland View are the two upstairs double rooms, which share a bathroom. These have views of the South Downs at the front and a diverse naturalised wood at the rear. The English Rose twin room is downstairs and has a disabled-friendly en-suite shower room.
As running a bed and breakfast was new to Paul and Katie when they bought the house, the couple visited several B&Bs to try and find out how to do it right. ‘We came to the conclusion that there was no “right way”, so Amarisa is a reflection of who we are: our guests receive a friendly welcome with a hot drink in the conservatory; we have detailed local knowledge to help plan our visitors’ stay and we provide a hearty full English breakfast in the morning, with local free-range eggs.’ They buy the jam and marmalade homemade from Southover Preserves, with all the profits going to support a charity in Rwanda.
Katie is a linguist, who enjoyed previous careers in teaching and social work, so running a bed and breakfast seemed an obvious use of transferable skills! ‘She is a good communicator and so loves living in the South Downs that she is a great promoter of the area and all it has to offer,’ says Paul. However, a Russian professor staying after a conference he was speaking at in Oxford, proved to be something of a Fawlty Towers’ moment. ‘He was brought up in the Black Sea area and wanted to see the south coast before he went back home. At breakfast time, he was more interested in photographing the flowers in our garden when the cooked breakfast was ready. He spoke little English and we had a fun time trying to get him inside before the breakfast was ruined!’ laughs Paul.
Sandwiched between the A27 one mile to the south and A22 three miles to the north, Amarisa provides easy access by road while Berwick railway station is only 200 metres away for guests travelling by train. It is perfect to accommodate guests walking and cycling local national footpaths: the Vanguard Way passes through the wood behind the house and the Wealdway is only 200 metres away. ‘Visitors cycling the Avenue Verte from Paris to London ride past our house,’ explains Paul.
‘We also have many beautiful places to visit that are all within easy reach by car: the South Downs National Park is only two miles away, and Michelham Priory, Alfriston and Charleston Farmhouse are nearby.’ The seaside towns of Seaford, Eastbourne, Newhaven for the ferry to Dieppe, and the National Trust properties of Alfriston Clergy House, Batemans, Monk’s House, Nymans, Sheffield Park and Garden, and Wakehurst Place with the Millenium Seed Bank are also within easy reach from this property.
Paul and Katie also recommend some of their local pubs. ‘Our favourite pubs for good food are The Plough at Upper Dicker; The Barley Mow at Selmeston; and The Plough and Harrow at Litlington. Within walking distance, we have The Berwick Inn just over the railway line at Berwick Station and The Cricketers Arms in Berwick Village.’