Heathfield, East Sussex
The first thing you notice about Longbourn is that you don’t notice it! My sat-nav said I had reached my destination but there was no indication that I had arrived. I had, however, passed some subtle signage which was somewhat piggy related so I doubled back to check and only then did I see the, ever so elegant, Longbourn name plate on the electric gates. And elegance was the “watch-word” for my entire stay.
A short driveway leads to a stunningly beautiful, exceedingly well kempt handsome late Victorian house. If you didn’t know better you would swear it was a well replicated “new build”.
Warmly greeted by Jane, who owns the property with her husband Roland (Roley) I was shown around their pride and joy.
They purchased the house and land about eight years ago and have painstakingly decorated the house in a style befitting its heritage. The interesting thing is that although it is very much their family home it never feels like you are intruding but more that they are thrilled to be able to share its unique ambience with appreciative guests.
The attention to detail is breathtaking with lush furnishings, objets d’art and literally dozens of fascinating prints and paintings. Many of which are military based (which I guess is a particular interest of Roley’s) and the only clue that you are in the 21st Century is the super high-tech widescreen TV available for the guest’s entertainment in the drawing room.
The imposing stair case leads to the main guest accommodation which is on the first floor, although there are further rooms available on the second floor which can be booked if specifically requested for families.
Each of the three regular letting rooms is superb with their own individual character. Nevertheless, I stayed in “Broad Oak” which really is a “show-stopper”.
I can honestly say I have lived in smaller apartments than this room and they weren’t that cramped either.
It is a double aspect room with a north facing balcony where you can sit outside with a “cuppa” and enjoy the views over the valley to the village of Mayfield or enjoy the vista to the west which takes in the village of Broad Oak – hence the name.
With a massive bed, crisp linen, classic fireplace with surround and sumptuous drapes and blinds plus the obligatory flat screen TV with Freeview you literally couldn’t ask for more…but you get it.
The bedroom leads into a dressing room where you would have had to pack for the duration to fill the rails which are, of course, complete with proper wooden hangers. A choice of coffee, chocolate and bespoke teas are available together with artisan biscuits and to complete the experience you’ll find big fluffy bathrobes and slippers for maximum snuggle affect. And then there is the bathroom.
Oh what a bathroom! Massive free standing pedestal bath, Victorian style loo and matching his’ n hers sinks and to top it all one of the most stunning and effective showers I have ever used encased in its own walk in glass unit. As you would expect there is also an assortment of luxury soaps and lotions. I’m a bloke but I reckon most women could spend half their stay just enjoying the amenities here.
Now, right about here I should be telling you what a great night’s sleep I had and all about the breakfast but there is more to Longbourn than an amazing house.
The property is part of a smallholding spread over in excess of 11 acres. The enterprising hosts operate a fully functioning farm specialising in rare breed pigs, lambs, chickens and game birds. Guests are welcome to wander around the grounds and feed the animals if they so desire. There is also a farm shop where produce from the farm can be bought and enjoyed at leisure. This brings me neatly back to breakfast.
Yes, I slept like a log and wandered down to the dining room for the equivalent of an early morning banquet. Fresh fruit salad, hot croissants, exclusive preserves, fruit juices and either tea or freshly ground coffee are just the opening act for the top of the bill –the cooked breakfast. The sausages and bacon are from their own pigs, the eggs freshly laid by the onsite egg dispensers, mushrooms, tomatoes, baked beans and potatoes are somehow all piled onto the exceedingly large plate. I’ve got an appetite but in this instance food won!
I can honestly say that Longbourn is impossible to fault and I can’t wait to visit again. If you are looking for a bargain B & B then this is not for you but if you are prepared to spend a little more for a truly memorable experience then you certainly won’t be disappointed.