UK hotels: a review of Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens, a West Sussex restaurant with rooms

There are few gardens in the UK that come with a vineyard, wallaby enclosure and Michelin starred restaurant, but Leonardslee has always been special.

Found just outside Horsham in West Sussex, this creation by Victorian plant collector Sir Edmund Loder was closed to the public in 2010, then allowed to rampage – until South African entrepreneur Penny Streeter bought it in 2017 with the aim of restoring both the garden landscape and its 19th century country house to their former glory.

The UK’s first commercial Pinotage vineyard was planted here in 2018 and in 2019 the gardens were reopened. Streeter then persuaded celebrity South African chef Jean Delport to create the Interlude restaurant, which quickly won a Michelin star.

Annabelle Thorpe checked into the 19th century country house in Leonardslee pictured above located near Horsham

Adequately comfortable: Pictured is one of the lodge bedrooms - which has

Adequately comfortable: Pictured is one of the lodge bedrooms – which has “marshmallow soft” beds, according to Annabelle

One of the wallabies and his joey at the Leonardslee enclosure

One of the wallabies and his joey at the Leonardslee enclosure

His latest addition to the estate is ten sumptuous rooms in the renovated Victorian lodge, almost all with magnificent views of the gardens and rolling countryside.

It’s carefully marketed as a restaurant with rooms, and the check-in feels more like a weekend at Downton Abbey than a hotel.

Striking sculptural figures and a gleaming grand piano dominate the sleek central space, with crisp white doors leading to bright and airy rooms devoted to afternoon tea, a small resident bar, and the Interlude Restaurant.

Upstairs, rooms once used as offices have been transformed into contemporary boudoirs with quirky wallpapers, brushed velvet sofas, and lavish bathrooms with alluring freestanding tubs.

Everything is ruinously comfortable – the bathrobes are soft as butter, the bed like a giant marshmallow cocoon and there is a clear sense of “doing it right” – even the welcome letter comes with a seal. hand-stamped wax.

The restaurant is arguably the biggest draw.

Delport’s multi-course hunter-gatherer experience puts Leonardslee Gardens at the forefront, with many ingredients grown, picked or picked on the 240-acre estate.

Ripe for Relaxation: Pictured one of the bathrooms features a Victorian-inspired sink and freestanding tub

Ripe for Relaxation: Pictured one of the bathrooms features a Victorian-inspired sink and freestanding tub

Striking sculptural figures and a sparkling grand piano dominate the hotel's elegant central space, pictured above

South African chef Jean Delport created the Interlude restaurant, pictured.  Annabelle says the restaurant is

Striking sculptural figures and a sparkling grand piano dominate the hotel’s elegant central space, pictured to the left. South African chef Jean Delport created Restaurant Interlude, pictured right. Annabelle says restaurant is “arguably the biggest draw” on the estate

Each course is accompanied by an explanatory map and a small map of the garden, indicating where each ingredient was harvested.

We ate nettle and wild garlic, powdered pine needles and fall radishes, hazelnuts and elderflower, as well as game, beef and original Parmesan. local. Each dish was presented with art, until we arrived at the petits fours and had to ask, weakly, if we could take them away.

It was an extraordinary meal, and it was delightfully sufficient to slip upstairs while other guests waited for taxis.

Describing her meal to Interlude, pictured Annabelle says:

Describing her meal at Interlude, in the photo, Annabelle says, “Each class comes with an explanation card and a little garden map, showing where each ingredient was harvested.”

A night at Leonardslee gives access to the gardens (pictured) before they open to the public, reveals Annabelle

A night at Leonardslee gives access to the gardens (pictured) before they open to the public, reveals Annabelle

“At 8 am, the glittering lakes and the flaming trees were ours alone,” says Annabelle.

“At 8 am, the glittering lakes and the flaming trees were ours alone,” says Annabelle.

Serene: The estate's double rooms, pictured, cost from £ 350 a night

Serene: The estate’s double rooms, pictured, cost from £ 350 a night

But there was one last treat. A night at Leonardslee gives access to the gardens before they open to the public.

At 8 a.m., the sparkling lakes and blazingly colored trees were ours alone, and we walked among the sculptures and swollen rhododendron bushes that blaze with color in spring, and we prepared to savor the tucked-away treats. in the breakfast basket that had been left outside our door.

By the time we left the estate had families watching the wallabies through the fence and the cafe was open for business. It was just an ordinary day at Leonardslee – after a truly extraordinary night.

TRAVEL FACTS

Lakes and Gardens in Leonardslee, West Sussex. Double rooms cost from £ 350 a night including a breakfast basket. Dinner at Interlude costs £ 145 per person (leonardsleegardens.co.uk).

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