If the holiday season left you feeling in serious need of a relaxing break with country walks, a first-class spa and restaurant and cosy rooms to hide away in, then Bailiffscourt hotel and spa is the place for you.
Tucked away down a little country lane on the south coast between Littlehampton and Bognor Regis, Bailiffscourt hotel is a little haven of calm, surrounded by green fields and just a short stroll from the sea at Climping beach.
Built in 1927 in the medieval style for Lord Moyne, who was then Walter Guinness of the brewing family, and his wife Evelyn, architect Amyas Phillips reportedly searched the country for original stone, woodwork, doors, windows and fireplaces which give the hotel its 500-year old feel.
There are low ceilings and tapestries and winding staircases and narrow corridors and a whole rabbit warren of rooms downstairs which all make you feel as if you have gone back in time. Thankfully the service, food and essentials of life (such as bathrooms) are all very modern, so what you get at Bailiffscourt hotel is an old-fashioned country house atmosphere from a building which has actually been a hotel since 1948.
Skiing is one of the world’s most sociable sports – there’s the long lunches, the dancing-on-tables après-ski, the cosy chalet dinners and oh yes, the skiing itself (who wants to go on a ski lift on their own?) – which means that the idea of going on a ski holiday by yourself might be an alarming one. However sometimes friends or family can’t get the time off work/can’t afford it/hate skiing/hate each other and so it’s either a choice of going solo or not going at all.
Going on a ski holiday on your own can be a leap into the unknown…
But if the thought of going on a skiing holiday especially for singles is even scarier than a black run on a icy day, then thankfully there are other options. Last January I went on a Mark Warner ski holiday to St Anton in Austria completely on my own and rather to my surprise, never once felt that I was travelling alone.
A lot of this was to do with the friendly reps who you got to know the moment you stepped off the plane and ushered onto the transfer bus. The hectic nature of travelling means you never know who’s on their own, who’s with friends, in a couple or in a family group, so there certainly wasn’t a feeling of having to walk down the aisle of the coach all alone under the pitying gazes of smug marrieds sitting in pairs holding hands.
I had been wondering about dinner – would I be sitting on my own in a corner with only a book for company? However when I checked into my room at the Chalet Rosanna there was already a note waiting for me saying that there was a number of people travelling alone that week, and would I like to meet up with the others during the welcome drink and dinner.
It was a thoughtful touch and stopped the feeling of ‘I’m the only person to ever go skiing on their own’.
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To arrive at Langshott Manor hotel is to jump back in time. One moment you are in urban Surrey, passing through towns like Redhill and Horley and driving though a modern housing estate, and then all of a sudden you arrive at a building unlike no other – with chimneys, mullioned windows, gables, a bell tower, patterned brickwork and basically looking as if it has come straight off the set of a film about the Tudors.
What is amazing is that Langshott Manor is the genuine article: a 16th-century manor house which has miraculously survived centuries of redevelopment even though it is just a few miles from Gatwick airport. As an airport hotel it must stand alone in the world as a way to jump forward 400 years between checking out of the hotel and the airport check-in desk and Langshott Manor certainly stands alone as a destination in its own right as well as a pre-holiday stopover.
Those used to spacious boutique hotels with endless corridors and acres of land might have to adjust to 16th-century dimensions: while Langshott Manor used to be surrounded by a moat and parkland, meadows and pastures just a semi-circular lake and a pretty garden at the rear of the hotel remain.
There’s a warm glow which comes when reading a newspaper article called ‘Cosiest pubs to stay in this winter’ and realising you are heading off to stay in one of those featured that very day. This happened to me recently when about to head off to The Bell Inn in the New Forest; reading The Times over my morning coffee I found that it had been singled out as the perfect place from which to enjoy bracing country walks (and to return to for post-walk drinks by its log fire).
Expectations were high therefore as I took to the road and thankfully I wasn’t disappointed – The Bell Inn is a charming place and I was fortunate enough to stay for two extremely cosy nights.
Having previously spent a considerable amount of time driving through the New Forest itself to get to various hotels I was surprised at how handy The Bell Inn is to get to – it was literally just a few minutes off the M27 so you don’t waste a moment snarled up in Lyndhurst traffic before getting stuck into some serious relaxing.
The Bell Inn has been in the Crosthwaite Eyre family for hundreds of years (since 1782 to be precise). Much of the food served in the restaurant has either been grown or raised on the family’s New Forest estate – some also comes from the family’s estate in Scotland – so the pub is very much a local enterprise and during my stay was preparing to host a dozen local suppliers in its annual Christmas fair.
Feeling my car’s clutch cable snap while driving to the airport was not the greatest of starts to our Cape Verde holiday, but after a several hours on the hard shoulder of the M1, a succession of train journeys and an impromptu overnight hotel stay, we were finally on our way – if from Bristol airport with Thomas Cook rather than Manchester airport with TUI as originally planned.
Small wonder that when we finally arrived at our resort, 24 hours later than planned, we dumped our bags in our rooms and headed straight to the bar to throw ourselves around on the dance floor to the music. We were wearing jeans in 27-degree heat but hey, our holiday had finally started! It was only a minute or so later that we realised we were the only people dancing. The bar was packed with people wearing cool floaty dresses and drinking colourful cocktails but it seemed that dancing was just for us. Thankfully after a while some brave souls – all women – followed our example. ‘Thank goodness you’re here,’ one said to us. ‘This is the liveliest it’s been all week.’
If you are looking for Ibiza-style parties and all-night danceathons then the hotels of Sal, Cape Verde are probably not what you’re looking for. However if you’re after a relaxing week by the pool, soaking up the rays and enjoying almost constant food and all-inclusive cocktails then this will suit you perfectly. There are some interesting places to visit outside the resorts but as the island is just 20 miles from head to toe they can be seen in less than a day leaving you more time to just relax and indulge yourself.