East Sussex, United Kingdom

The Bell in Ticehurst

Price per night from$125.78

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (GBP98.96), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Kooky country inn

Setting

Bell of the Bewl

With its timeworn red bricks, teetering chimney stacks, leaded windows and wonky doorways so low you might have to stoop to enter unscathed, the Bell in Ticehurst might have jumped straight from the pages of a Dickens novel. Inside this storied 16th-century inn, ancient features like inglenook fireplaces and crooked beams jockey for position with whimsical modern additions. No, that spiral tower of tomes in the bar isn’t actually holding up the ceiling, but yes, those repurposed Wagner tubas in the gents’ loo really are functioning urinals, and the silver birch tree in your room is no Alice in Wonderland-esque hallucination. Find a cosy snug from which to admire the enchanting eccentricity of it all, or step outside into English countryside so charmingly twee it would make Enid Blyton blush.

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Facilities

Photos The Bell in Ticehurst facilities

Need to know

Rooms

11, of which five are suites.

Check–Out

11am. Check-in is at 3pm. Both are flexible where availability permits and luggage can be stored when rooms are not ready. A £20 fee applies for late check-out until noon.

Prices

Double rooms from £118.75, including tax at 20 per cent.

More details

Rates include breakfast in the restaurant. Arrive hungry for the buffet of fresh pastries, fruits, yoghurt, cereals and juices, then get down to the real business of the day with a country-style full English breakfast.

Also

There’s one wheelchair-accessible lodge in the gardens and the bar, restaurant and accessible toilet are also all at ground level.

At the hotel

Free WiFi, garden fire pits. In rooms: TV with Freeview channels, tea- and coffee-making kit, and freshly baked cookies.

Our favourite rooms

Among the Bell’s eccentric pick ’n’ mix of rooms and suites, the aptly monikered Love Nest stands out as perhaps the quirkiest of all. This seductive garden rotunda comes with a curvaceous copper bath tub, twin rainfall showers, wood-panelled walls and a log-burner. Climb the spiral staircase to the circular rooftop terrace for summer sundowners and 360-degree views that take in the oasthouse-style roofs of the neighbouring lodges, the inn’s red-tiled roof and the village beyond.

Packing tips

Cosy nooks in the literature-obsessed Bell’s public areas practically beg to be curled up in with a good book. Bring a suitably tattered and atmospheric paperback or two – an Agatha Christie country-manor mystery or ghostly MR James chiller – to read in a single gin-soaked sitting by the bar’s roaring inglenook fire. And pack solid hiking boots for yomping the cobwebs away up the High Weald country trails next morning.

Also

There are more than 3,000 tulip bulbs planted around the fire pits in the Bell’s rear garden. Spring guests are rewarded with a rainbow of bell-shaped blooms accompanied by a symphony of bees and butterflies.

Pet‐friendly

The High Weald’s network of bridleways and byways is a veritable paradise for four-legged pals. Dogs are welcome at the Bell for a nightly fee of £15 each. Beds and bowls are provided, and very good doggos can even frequent the bar area. See more pet-friendly hotels in East Sussex.

Children

There are pull-out beds that can sleep kids up to nine years old, as well as a kids’ menu in the restaurant and a whole world of wild countryside for little Smiths to explore.

Food and Drink

Photos The Bell in Ticehurst food and drink

Top Table

Nab the closest spot to that roaring log fire in winter, and be sure to book a seat for fine dining at the Stables’ huge sunken-oak table on Wednesday evenings. Last orders The lively bar stays open until 11pm.

Dress Code

Countryside chic – tweeds, floral prints and animal motifs – in the restaurant area; wax jackets and muddy boots for that post-hike Sussex bitter in the pub garden.

Hotel restaurant

Served in the quirky environs of the pub, with its low-beamed ceilings, roaring fires and antique artefacts – including an 18th-century bell, a carved wooden tollgate notice and several prints by artist Graham Sutherland – the Bell’s bar menu is a cut above. Expect life-affirming duck and rabbit nuggets with lovage emulsion, hedgerow pheasant with Jerusalem artichoke purée and an almost comically decadent dark-chocolate and orange fondant with Bailey’s ice-cream. 

The Stables dining room is the venue for fine dining on Wednesdays. A signed Francis Bacon triptych points the way to this inner sanctum, where a neon sign declares ‘I will always love you my friend’, a motto provided by the owner’s god-daughter that is echoed throughout the hotel. The five-course tasting menu is conjured up using the best local ingredients available on the day and there’s the option to add paired wines to your feast.

Hotel bar

This charming old village pub dates back to the 1560s and remains a firm favourite with locals for its excellent selection of Sussex beers, wines and ciders, above-par pub grub and eccentric decor that includes mismatched vintage wallpaper, bowler-hat lights and arty ephemera. Bring your dog and a good book, pull up a chair by the fireside and soak up that olde English atmosphere over a refreshing Garden of England cocktail made with Generation 11 Sussex gin.

Last orders

The lively bar stays open until 11pm.

Room service

Subject to availability but staff will try to accommodate requests where possible.

Location

Photos The Bell in Ticehurst location
Address
The Bell in Ticehurst
High Street
Ticehurst
TN5 7AS
United Kingdom

Set in a poetically quaint Sussex village, deep in the rolling hills and windswept woodlands of the High Weald, this higgledy-piggledy 16th-century hideaway in tiny Ticehurst lies 50 miles from central London and half an hour from Hastings.

Planes

Gatwick Airport is around an hour away by car. Road is the quickest way to get there, but a cab will set you back £80 to £100 one-way.

Trains

There are three regional stations within around five miles of the Bell. Both Wadhurst and Stonegate connect direct to Royal Tunbridge Wells (around 15 minutes), Hastings (around 30 minutes) and London Bridge station (around an hour).

Automobiles

You’ll want your own set of wheels if you plan to explore the mosaic of woodland, heaths and farmers’ fields that make up the High Weald’s wild landscape. Make like lords and ladies of the manor and pick up a classic Bentley or Aston Martin at the airport before cruising the B-road to Ticehurst via ye olde English villages of Blackham and Wadhurst, all bright-red pillar boxes, startled-looking pheasants and perfectly manicured country gardens. There’s free parking when you arrive at the Bell.

Worth getting out of bed for

Take a peep outside the creaking front door of this ancient fairy-tale inn and you’ll find a tiny but vibrant village where quaint red-brick cottages share narrow, flower-filled lanes with independent shops and cute cafés, all overlooked by a picture-perfect 14th-century church. Greenfinch is a diminutive art space that punches well above its weight, showcasing stacks of unique ceramics, artworks, clothing, accessories and more by artists native to Sussex and Kent. Here’s where to pick up trinkets, souvenirs and one-off pieces that often wouldn’t look a jot out of place in the Bell itself. Railway enthusiasts should chug straight along to the minute model train shop, while the collection of vintage homewares and textiles in the Old Haberdashery next door is guaranteed to set seamstress and tailor hearts aflutter. In summer, fill your wicker hand-basket with berries, cherries and plums at Maynards pick-your-own farm.

The High Weald’s patchwork of forests, farms, parks and ye olde English villages is manna for ramblers. Staff at the Bell can share their encyclopaedic knowledge of the local highways and byways, but the marked seven-mile circular woodland walk from Ticehurst’s village square, taking in views of the Bewl Water reservoir and returning via Ketley Wood, is as good a place to start as any. That pint of Harvey’s Best Sussex Bitter back at the Bell will be well-deserved.

A little further afield, there are excellent parks, gardens and heritage properties to discover. Pashley Manor’s English country garden is open through spring and summer, promising a frenzy of tulips, wisteria and climbing roses every bit as delicious as the homemade cakes and scones in its little café. Wander beneath giant redwoods and thousands more conifers at Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest, 2,600 acres of glorious Wealden woodland that’s paradise for little explorers (and hungry Gruffalos).

You might be unsurprised to spot a dragon gliding over mediaeval Bodiam Castle, so closely does this moated fortress resemble something from a depiction of St George battling his mythical foe. Around 15 minutes from The Bell, this fairytale castle has its original portcullis, plus a stone unicorn, ancient bread oven and extensive battlements to explore, as well as a 50-something carp that keen-eyed visitors can spot lurking in the moat’s murky depths. Join in regular activities including archery days, crafts and mediaeval garden games.

Local restaurants

This part of Sussex is very much about old-fashioned pubs with muddy boots stacked by the door and dogs worn out by country hikes snoozing by the fire. Ticehurst’s Cherry Tree Inn is no exception, with flagstone floors and a wooden bar serving local cask beers. There’s a belly-busting menu of English pub favourites including breaded whitebait, steak and ale pie and Eton mess, and a huge beer garden with fire pits that’s packed with lively locals late into the summer evenings.

Set in four acres of glorious Sussex countryside close to Bewl Water, the building that houses the Bull Inn dates back to somewhere around the turn of the 14th and 15th century. So atmospheric rooms with low ceilings, exposed beams, inglenook fireplaces and quarrystone floors are par for the course. Likewise the menu of classic dishes that’s heavy with burgers, steaks and sticky-toffee puddings, and the extensive selection of local cask and barrel ales.

Local cafés

Just around the corner from Ticehurst’s mediaeval church, the Greedy Goat Café (or the Greedy Goat Café ‘I Suppose’, to give it its somewhat unwieldy full birth name) is a typically quaint village eatery serving homemade cakes from beneath cute glass domes, and a range of hot drinks sipped from brightly coloured crockery. Brunch treats include pancakes laden with yoghurt and fresh fruit, full-English breakfasts and eggs any which way, and there’s a lunch menu featuring bagels, sandwiches and panini.

Just up the road in pretty Flimwell, the Weald Smokery is an award-winning smokehouse producing its own range of exceptional smoked fish, meats and cheeses. You can stock up on these to your heart’s content in the shop, or sample the goods in the café, which serves the likes of smoked-salmon bagels and smoked-stilton quiche alongside homemade cakes, still-warm pastries and freshly ground coffee.

Reviews

Photos The Bell in Ticehurst reviews

Anonymous review

Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this whimsical olde country inn and unpacked their stash of Sussex ales and smoked cheeses, a full account of their High Weald break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Bell in Ticehurst…

If the walls at the Bell in Ticehurst could talk, oh the tales they could tell. Storytelling is at the very heart of this quirky inn, from its repeated ‘apparently’ motif (a nod to the pub’s 16th-century origins as a gathering spot for village gossips), through Sussex’s smuggling heyday, to the extraordinary historical artefacts that fill the public areas – prints by beloved Kent artist Graham Sutherland; poems by Rudyard Kipling (a former fixture in the atmospheric bar here); a portrait by Victorian artist Margaret Carpenter.

This visual extravaganza continues in the inn’s madcap rooms and lodges, where artworks by Tracey Emin, Banksy and Picasso share space with shop mannequins, vintage dentists’ chairs, retro Bakelite telephones and timeworn typewriters. Heck, there’s even an ancient wooden door bearing the legend ‘Narnia’ up in the Suite’s fairy-tale eaves. And, in a place as kooky as this, you wouldn’t be at all surprised if you opened it to discover an actual talking lion inside. Now wouldn’t that be a story to tell…

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Price per night from $125.78