THE HUT, NEAR IFORD, EAST SUSSEX
WHAT’S THE SCOOP? This wonderfully well-equipped shepherd’s hut is the ideal introduction to glamping – especially if you have your four-legged friend in tow. With acres of land to explore and all the mod-cons you’d expect from a hotel, it’s a brilliant way to dip your toe into experiencing the great outdoors.
The Hut is in the grounds of a family home, just outside Iford, East Sussex, but feels nice and secluded. The South Downs are on the doorstep while the historic town of Lewes is a couple of miles up the road and the bright lights of Brighton are a 15-minute drive away.
ARE MUDDY PAWS WELCOME? Most definitely. The Hut is a real haven for dogs, with around three acres of enclosed land to explore. Look out for the flowerpot full of tennis balls and the bones laying around in the garden – it truly is a doggy heaven!
Guests travelling with a four-legged friend will need to bring their own pet bedding and food but rest assured, you will have a fabulous time whatever the weather – and there’s no extra charge for dogs.
AND WHEN I’M DOG TIRED? Cosy up in the rustic wooden Hut, which has been thoughtfully decorated and is surprisingly spacious inside. The comfy full-size bed is the focus of the room but there’s also plenty of space for a small kitchenette and table and chairs for two.
The Hut has plenty of things to keep you occupied on rainy days, from games and books on the local flora and fauna to suggestions for nearby walks and days out. If you’re in danger of relaxing too much, however, the free Wifi and DAB radio will keep you connected to the modern world.
There’s full power in the Hut but no running water – you’ll have to go to the nearby stable block for that. It’s also where you will find the kitchen area and eco-friendly bathroom, complete with shower, off-grid toilet (it’s not as scary as it sounds) and Scandinavian-style sauna.
We were lucky enough to visit when the weather was good so made the most of the Hut’s outdoor space and fire pit but I imagine it’s wonderful in winter, when you can curl up among the blankets with the electric fire raging and a hot water bottle beside you.
HOW ARE THE SCOOBY SNACKS? Generally speaking, you book the Hut on a self-catering basis but a generous breakfast is provided that caters for all dietary requirements. Our vegetarian feast included sausages, bacon, eggs, mushrooms, beans, fresh bread and croissants, not to mention home-made jam, freshly-squeezed orange juice, a selection of cereal and yoghurt.
You can cook it all up in the nearby kitchen area which has everything you could possibly need to create a culinary masterpiece, plus a table for two and fresh flowers. There’s even a pizza oven, if you fancy making your evening meals, too.
As mentioned earlier, the Hut itself has a small kitchenette with an induction hob and kettle. There is a great selection of tea, coffee and hot chocolate to enjoy and the welcoming slices of homemade apple cake went down a treat.
If you fancy eating out, there are loads of dog-friendly places nearby – and helpfully, walking maps are provided with detailed directions from the Hut. We took a 25-minute stroll to The Abergavenny Arms in Rodmell – and if you’re in Lewes, don’t miss Bun + Bean, a cool vegetarian cafe serving handmade burgers, freshly brewed coffee and local craft beer. The above picture of Ernie was taken in the cafe’s courtyard garden.
ANY FOUR-LEGGED FRIENDS TO PLAY WITH? Oh yes. Wookie, the resident lurcher, is a very friendly girl who makes a great playmate. She loves human affection too and will often pop in to the Hut for a snuggle. That’s her pictured above, making herself at home on Ernie’s bed!
WHERE’S GOOD FOR WALKIES? You can pick up the Greenwich Meridian Trail from the bottom of the garden. This long-distance footpath follows the line of the Prime Meridian and runs for more than 270 miles from the monument to King George V at Peacehaven, East Sussex, to Sand le Mere in East Yorkshire.
From the Hut, turn left to walk to the historic town of Lewes (approximately two miles) or right to Rodmell, the former home of writer Virginia Woolf. Follow in her footsteps by doing this lovely six-mile walk, as recommended by The Guardian newspaper. Be prepared for a mix of footpaths, bridleways and overgrown sections of field!
The South Downs National Park is also easily accessible from the Hut and offers miles upon miles of walking opportunities. The city of Brighton is just seven miles away too, should you be in need of some beach action or a stroll around quirky shops. Dog owners should check out my Ruff Guide to Brighton & Hove here.
WHAT ERNIE LOVED: Playing with Wookie for hours on end, the freedom to roam, the sights, sounds and smells of the countryside
WHAT I LOVED: Cuddles with Wookie, the cosy feel of the hut, the sauna
GET ON THE DOG AND BONE: A night at the Hut starts from £60, including breakfast. For more information, check out the listing on Airbnb.