Highstead House in West Sussex’s hush-quiet Golden Triangle should come with a warning. It’s lovely inside and out, but you’ll be setting the bar for your family gatherings far, far too high. Will anything ever measure up again? Oliver Cromwell thought not. This was his hunting lodge, and it’s only got better in the last 400 years.
How much better? Sleeping 10 adults and 2 children in six bedrooms, Highstead House has luxuries and amenities that could start a war. A very civil one. Swim in the 12-metre pool heated to 28 degrees. Finish the day off with a starlit simmer in the six-seat hot tub with Bluetooth and party lights, and a little personal purification in the sauna and steam room.
Congregate in the sitting room and be entertained by the 55-inch TV with Sky Q, sound bar and BT Sports. Enjoy alternative viewing on the 72” summer-room TV, or the PS4 with virtual-reality headset in the games room. Cook on the five-door Aga, sleep in Cromwell’s beamy, beautiful bedrooms and conspire to overthrow everyday life.
There’s a whole extra al-fresco house out there at the end of the private, gated drive among the two acres. Choose your favourite seating area on the terrace in front of the main house and pour yourself a gin. Let the kids loose on the trampoline. Or get active yourself on the grass tennis court complete with umpire’s chair. Advantage you.
Wander the wild-flower meadow. Raid the veggie patch. Play croquet on the lawn. Dive into the 12-metre outdoor pool heated to 28 degrees.
Towel off and choose a circular day bed and watch the kids wipe away the afternoon. Sweat it out in the sauna and steam room, then jump into the hot tub with Bluetooth and party lights. Spend the rest of the night in the covered outdoor seating area warmed by the heater and uplifted by the lights that illuminate the water.
Pick from four reception rooms in the main house and annex in which to socialise or slide away. It all begins in the entrance hall, a lovely place to linger, with its two love seats and inglenook fireplace. And you can keep on top of your emails in the home office with its desk, chairs, printer and paper.
Spread out on the corner sofa in the summer room for Now TV or Freeview on the surround-sound 72” TV. Need alternative viewing? The 55” in the sitting room comes with Sky Q and BT Sports. Or head to the games room for Scrabble and Monopoly or the Sky Q and BT Sports-equipped TV plus PS4 with virtual-reality headset.
Indoor-outdoor life is fluid here and all main reception rooms come with great views. The summer room’s bi-fold doors open out onto the Japanese pond and gardens, while the sitting room offers views across the tennis court and front gardens. Dump your wellies in the boot room and let the dog cosy up in the utility room.
Cook on the five-door Aga and two electric ovens in the fully equipped kitchen. Or don’t. Down tools and call up Kimmy from Penny-Bun Catering for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or just drop-off meals. Or give her a night off and order authentic Indian cuisine complete with hand-crafted cocktails from Banyan.
The kitchen/diner also comes with two sinks, two dishwashers, a Magimix, Nutribullet and Nespresso machine. Stock up the American-style fridge/freezers from The Cowdry Farm Shop. You’ve another two ovens in the annex, plus microwave, induction hob and large fridge/freezer with water and ice dispenser.
Eat out at The Horse Guards Inn in Tillington, with its adventurous menu that invites you to be brave. Head to the beautiful Duke of Cumberland for prawn, crayfish and pea risotto or dressed Selsey crab. Or walk to The Three Horseshoes for its Elizabethan ambience and British menus blended with world flavours.
For a quintessentially English country-pub experience complete with cricket on the village green, try The Noah’s Ark. Off to Goodwood? Break the journey at The Mulberry in Chiddingfold for good food with a Lebanese twist. Or how about apple and honey-glazed pork belly in The Halfway Bridge? Pop in on your way back from the polo.
Out here in rural Sussex, there’s not much to get in the way of a good solid slumber except the breeze through the boughs and the odd hoot of an owl. Watch your head on some of the entrances. People were shorter in Cromwell’s day.
The Pink bedroom can be found in the eaves. It offers a kingsize bed, TV with Freeview, views across the grounds and en-suite bathroom with freestanding bath. The Yellow bedroom offers twin beds and TV with Freeview and the Grey room has a kingsize bed, armchair, TV with Sky Q and en-suite bathroom with bath.
The air-conditioned master bedroom is a light and spacious room with superking, hidden bed TV with Now TV, sofa, chairs and French windows that lead onto a private balcony. You’ll also enjoy a walk-in wardrobe and en-suite bathroom with steps leading up to a round bath and separate walk-in shower.
In the annex, bedroom one is a kingsize with stairs that lead down to the swimming pool, a TV with Freeview, views across the swimming pool and en-suite bathroom with bath, while child-friendly bedroom two offers twin beds and en-suite bathroom with shower.
Not far south of London, Highstead House is easy to get to and easy to love. It’s a home from home and you can bring home with you, too. With space for up to 12 plus a couple of furred friends, kids won’t be pining for the folks back home. But they might miss the fun stuff when they leave.
Exhibit A is the 12-metre outdoor pool, heated to 28 degrees during the warmer months and the perfect prelude to lemonade while curled up on the circular daybeds or a sandwich snack in the covered and heated pergola area. Older kids might also fancy a dip in the hot tub with party lights and Bluetooth or a simmer in the sauna.
Sports fans? The croquet lawn might appeal. Or if you ever wondered what playing Wimbledon feels like, we have our own Centre Court right here. The grass court opens in April and you don’t even need to bring rackets and balls. Not sporty? Sit in the umpire’s chair for the best view in the house.
Inside, the fun doesn’t let up. Catch Sky Q and BT Sports on the 55” sitting-room TV or alternative viewing on the 72” TV in the annex’s summer room. Try out the PS4 with virtual-reality headset in the games room, or just the Scrabble and Monopoly.
Walk or cycle the South Downs National Park. Swing your clubs at Hindhead. Get pampered on site or head out to sip bubbles in the sun at Tinwood Estate Vineyard. Bring buckets and spades for West Wittering Beach. See stars at the South Downs Planetarium Centre. Or sail, sea-kayak or abseil at Cobnor Activities Centre.