Our stay in Starnash Farmhouse, Upper Dicker, Sussex
If there was ever a time to whisk yourself away with loved ones for a cosy weekend, it's around now. Before the Christmas rush, or during the new year, when you need something to be a little bit excited about.
Well, Neil and I did exactly this last weekend. We didn't drive far to get to this beautiful farmhouse nestled in a tiny, untapped Sussex village, only a 20 minute drive from Brighton and not too far for Londoners, but it was far enough away from city life, noisy roads, and the stress of swarms of people wrestling for Black Friday deals in shops. Just what we wanted.
Starnash Farmhouse is surrounded by 360° of green fields and farmland (and in the spring, poppy fields!) set in the small village of Upper Dicker in East Sussex. It made the perfect setting for a winters break away - and I can't even begin to imagine how beautiful it is during the Summer months.
We received truly the warmest welcome from owner (and master cook!) Victoria and her family the minute we arrived. Victoria gave Neil and I a grand tour through the whole farmhouse when she sensed my curiosity for interiors, and we had such lovely intermittent chats all across the weekend. I'll tell you all about how delicious the food Victoria made for us was, first let me show you the bedroom we stayed in, you'll drool...
Rustic, beautifully finished bedrooms that feel like home
I think this has to have been the most tastefully decorated place I've ever stayed, and that's coming from someone fairly well travelled.
Fresh flowers greeted us as we entered, I stood in awe at the rustic brickwork that is original to the building, exposed beams gave the room a country charm and the bed sheets were the fluffiest, cosiest things to curl up under.
During our stay I took a lot of colour inspiration from the rooms. The teal paint scheme in the bathroom that worked so well with the woodwork and patterned tiles made me swoon a little, and the shower - don't even get me started. It was a pinterest dream. The whole thing was made out of copper pipes by Victoria's husband Dave. Genius work, I tell you. We didn't get a photo of it, but there's lots on the Starnash Farmhouse website so go have a gander.
I took complete advantage of the bath too, which was really relaxing. For me, staying in places that have baths makes it feel that bit more luxurious. Neil + I don't own a bath in our flat, so it's always a treat when we stay somewhere that does.
There were some fine mini shower gels, and shampoo left for us too - which I should have noted down the name of. They smelled glorious in the morning.
I got a sneak peek into some other rooms at the farmhouse as we arrived well before other guests and I wanted to get a full picture of the whole house for future group events I plan through work - and a potential spot for our wedding or hen do! The other rooms are all every bit as beautiful as the one I'm showing you.
In the morning, I could smell the delicious, home cooked breakfast waiting for us as we wandered downstairs
Nothing quite beats the smell of fresh bread and home made plum and apple compote in the morning, and I was taken aback by the effort Victoria makes on all of her guests throughout their whole stay, particularly during breakfast. She was up at the crack of dawn making us all fresh jams, bread and preparing juices and fruit for us. We felt very spoilt for choice. It was a true farmhouse breakfast, and a damn tasty one at that.
We sat inside the bed and breakfast's communal room for guests to use as and when they like, which I'll share more about further down the post, and gathered around a big wooden country table. Laid before us was an entire array of delicious, hot apple compote, jams, honey, fresh orange juice and freshly brewed coffee. It was divine.
After stuffing our faces with home made compote, Neil and I had a full English breakfast which set us up well for the days shenanigans. It's making me hungry for more just writing about it!
There was a large welcoming, cosy space for guests or parties to chill in with a glass or two
I thought it was particularly special to be given total free reign of the farmhouse's breakfast room-come living room. It's a large open plan space with lots of light, sheepskin throws, comfy sofas, sound system and it made the perfect spot to gather for drinks with friends or fellow guests. I managed to catch up on some email there whilst enjoying the views of the fields outside, and felt very protected from the serious heavy rain we had all weekend. The weather didn't spoil a thing though.
What was really lovely, was how sociable this room was. In the mornings, you get to have a proper chat with guests as you have breakfast together around the large oak table. It's an opportunity to hear about their plans for the day and meet people from all across the country. A great start to our day :-)
It might be a very small village, but there's so much to see and do in the area
Neil and I drove up from Brighton, and as I mentioned it took us about 20 mins. The farmhouse is the perfect spot for city dwellers from London too, and there's excellent train links in the village. Berwick + Polegate are the nearest stations and offer a taxi service to the B&B.
On the evening we arrived, Neil and I visited the nearest pub (a 5 min drive, if that) to the farmhouse - The Plough Inn, which has excellent reviews on Tripadvisor and cook up delicious bangers and mash. The pub is cosy, traditional and there's a real village feel to it. We had a really lovely first evening there trying out Sussex ales over a bite to eat.
The next morning after breakfast, we wanted to visit Herstmonceux castle and science centre which was about a 15 min drive from the farmhouse, but sadly it was shut when we arrived - bad planning fifi!
But we ALWAYS have a backup plan and managed to catch the Middle Farm Vintage Christmas Fair that was on across the weekend - I LOVED it. Vintage furniture, tent bars with cow hides and mulled wine as far as the eye could see - Middle Farm is such a joy, especially at Christmas. We got lots of photos, watch out for a full review this week or next. Here's one to whet the appetite...
We also drove through the stunning village of Alfriston, which
I visited with Neil last Easter and again, got lots of inspiration for country living. It's probably my favourite of all the Sussex villages, part of me is tempted to get married there if they'll have us!
The second evening we took a (kinda dark and creepy) drive out to the Yew Tree Inn, in Hailsham which is a pub in the absolute middle of NOWHERE. Neil kept telling me ghost stories in the car, and honestly, you couldn't see your hand in front of your face when the car lights weren't on. Spooky, but a friendly place all the same.
See, the area is packed full of walks and villages to explore.
I can't recommend a stay in Starnash Farmhouse highly enough for a couples getaway, or a space to host you and your family or a group of friends. It's a wonderfully versatile farmhouse and the flexibility of Victoria and her family mean you are free to dream up a perfect stay whether it's with you, groups from work, for workshops, classes, hen parties, family holidays, everything.
I already have lots of ideas to return, and Starnash Farmhouse is now firmly in my mind as the ideal spot for ultimate relaxation.
***Update since we stayed at Starnash, I'm delighted to announce that they are now opening up their gorgeous cottage setting in Sussex for weddings! Check out their sister company: www.idlewildweddings.co.uk***
Visit starnashfarmhouse.co.uk for more information, photos and bookings
Like Starnash Farmhouse on facebook for pop of country living to perk up your newsfeed :)
Thank you for having us Victoria, Dave & co!