What’s Deans Place like?
This family-run hotel, in the heart of the South Downs, dates back more than 600 years. The popular wedding venue, on the outskirts of Alfriston, is set in four acres of grounds and includes a croquet lawn and petanque court. Dogs are very welcome to stay at the hotel, which even has three paddocks for guests who wish to bring their horses along.
How dog-friendly is Deans Place?
Excellent. Pets are welcome in a number of rooms at the hotel and all of the public areas, aside from the Dining Room. The hotel’s well-kept grounds are great to explore too, although dogs must be kept on a lead at all times. You will find a poo bin on site too, which is handy. The hotel staff made a big fuss of Ernie and Stan, bringing them treats and water when we went downstairs for dinner. We also spotted a big jar of Bonios on the bar. There’s an additional charge of £10 per night for dogs to stay.
Tell me more about Deans Place
There are 35 rooms at the hotel ranging from basic singles to family rooms and suites. We stayed in Room 50 – one of the small doubles – but I was pleasantly surprised by how spacious it was. The hotel rooms are gradually being refurbished and while ours had yet to be done, it was still very comfortable. The room, which overlooked the main hotel entrance, was decorated in a soothing shade of green and dominated by a lovely sleigh bed. There was dark wood furniture throughout, providing lots of storage, as well as tea and coffee making facilities.
Cole & Lewis toiletries could also be found in the en-suite bathroom, which was a little dated but perfectly functional. We visited just before Christmas, when it was snowing outside, so the twinkling fairy lights outside our window only added to the cosy feel of the hotel. The room was also incredibly quiet at night, despite overlooking the hotel car park. Downstairs, there are several relaxed lounges to enjoy, three of which have open fires. From May to September, residents are also welcome to use the hotel’s outdoor heated swimming pool.
What’s the food like at Deans Place?
Delicious. The hotel’s restaurant is award-winning and really champions fresh local produce. While guests travelling with dogs cannot eat in the Dining Room, they don’t have to miss out on the fantastic food as the same seasonal menu is served in the bar and lounges. It has something to suit all tastes, from Sausage and Mash to Slow-Braised Beef Brisket. There is a great selection of vegetarian and vegan options too, and a range of snacks served all day. The Sussex Rarebit, in particular, sounded fantastic and the hotel also serves afternoon teas.
We visited on a Sunday and were pleased to find the kitchen was still open in the evening, which is not always the case at many hotels. My Butternut & Spinach Wellington, pictured above, was a real treat and came with a little pan of Sussex Blue Cheese Sauce. It was like a lighter version of a Sunday roast. I can also recommend the Crispy Fried Panko Sussex Brie starter. It’s enormous! Breakfast is well worth getting up for too, with a great spread of continental items and generous cooked options available.
Are there resident dogs at Deans Place?
No, but you may well meet the owners’ labradors and some others who are staying over.
Where are the best dog walks near Deans Place?
The hotel’s welcome pack contains a number of cards detailing recommended local walks. These range from short circular strolls around Alfriston village to longer hikes across the South Downs. While you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth checking out the Long Man of Wilmington, pictured above – a chalk figure on the steep slopes of Windover Hill. You can walk there and back from the hotel in around two hours. Be sure to take in the Long Man Brewery on the way, which has a great dog-friendly shop where you enjoy a freshly brewed pint.
Alfriston, just a five-minute walk from the hotel, is also wonderfully picturesque and has many antique shops, cafes and cosy pubs to enjoy. The South Downs Way runs right through the village and the Cuckmere River is also close by. From Alfriston, there’s a lovely 6.4-mile walk you can do through the Cuckmere Valley that takes in Friston Forest and the Seven Sisters Country Park. It also allows you to see the Litlington White Horse – another grand chalk figure carved on High and Over Hill.
What Ernie and Stan loved about Deans Place
The sausage for breakfast, the gorgeous grounds, the quiet room at night
What I loved about Deans Place
The delicious food, the friendly staff, the relaxed vibe
How to book Deans Place
Overnight stays start from £85 per night, including breakfast. For more information, call 01323 870248 or visit the Deans Place Hotel website.