I arrived there one Sunday afternoon, and by the time I left 24 hours later I’d had a 90 minute massage, swam, sauna’d, steamed and lounged in the spa, had dinner, slept, had breakfast, explored Midhurst, returned for lunch and in between times had squeezed in an awful lot of doing absolutely nothing at all, such as relaxing in comfy sofas reading books and playing Scrabble. By the time it came for me to leave it seemed as if I’d been there for a week.
Staying in a room with high timbered ceilings, a four-poster bed and mullioned windows feels very 16th-century, so it is a surprise to learn that Bailiffscourt Hotel and Spa actually dates from the early 1900s .
It is quite easy to imagine a contemporary of Henry VIII – Cardinal Wolsey for example – staying here in times gone by, but even though the whole building feels like an ancient manor house, Bailiffscourt is less than a hundred years old.
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 is an old-fashioned country house atmosphere from a building which has actually been a hotel since 1948.