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Bailiffscourt Hotel
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Reviewed 4 May 2010

We needed a break and I started googling up "Romantic Hotels West Sussex" and came across Bailiffscourt Hotel. Log onto their website http://www.hshotels.co.uk/hotels/bailiffscourt.html for more info.

Basically it's a medieval style property, built in the 1920's by the late Sir Walter Guinness as a family retreat. After the family died it became a hotel. It's a very clever piece of architecture, with the original stone and wood work gathered from all over England to make up the series of buildings. (Gothic mullions, antiques and tapestries). It's got proper historic atmosphere here, and you'd swear blind the place had been there centuries, because the craftsmen have been that clever.

I would concur with an earlier comment about the price. We booked on a deal. If we'd been paying full price then I'd consider the Rack Rates are on the high side for what you get.

Quick and simple check in and we were shown to a very pretty room. I think that some of the comments about 'the shabby chic furnishings as an easy excuse for having old worn furniture' unkind. This is a Medieval Hotel. If you are after modern furnishings, then go somewhere else. I thought at all times that the furnishings appropriate and comfortable. Likewise our bathroom was absolutely fine. I'm personally not keen on Victorian style bathrooms, but it was immaculate, clean with plenty of hot water, big white towel robes (what a treat) and decent towels. The only thing that worried me slightly was that the handle on the WC. I felt I had to treat it delicately in case it snapped off in my hand. The bed was comfortable and the pillows, snugly, whilst the ambient temperature in the room was just right.

We had a well stocked room; complimentary mineral water (decent make), range of Twinnings Teas, what looked like home made biscuits in a Kilner jar, a hair dryer you could plug in (it wasn't surgically attached to the room), an extension lead (brilliant), a spare blanket and pillow and good quality toiletries. Internet charges are on the high side, I’d expect in an establishment like this for them to be FOC.

There wasn't a bar, but this wasn't a problem. We were warmly welcomed and asked if we would like to sit in the lounge for a pre-dinner drink. Reasonable Gin choice. It came with scrumptious cheese straws. We sat and chilled and chatted, very pleasant. We were then shown through to dinner in the Tapestry Restaurant. Throughout the evening, we had exceptional service. Cannot fault it at all. The staff here are polite, helpful, charming, genuine and thoughtful.

As for the food, I had Scallops to start. (Diver caught scallops, so Gold Star for that one). They came breaded. Never eaten Breaded Scallops before, and what a disappointment. Very oily (almost as though they'd been fried in a very cheap cooking oil), and this treatment detracted from the subtle Scallops taste. However the two Scallops came on a Cauliflower Puree that was to die for. Exceptionally smooth, full cauliflower taste - top marks for the puree guys. I could have sat and eaten a large bowl of that, it was so yummy. The rest of the dish was ok, but the Scallops were very disappointing. Think you need a new treatment for them and then this dish would be so much better. I followed this with Roast Suckling Pig. Soggy crackling. Crackling should always be crisp, not limp. The meat was excellent - the Pork fell to bits, it was that tender. Portions are on the small side here and I feel the dish could have benefited from a green vegetable of some kind to complement the Pork. My husband had the lamb. Small portions again, but very tasty. I finished the meal with Tart Tatin that was meant to feed two. I pretty much ate it all, bar a couple of spoons my husband scoffed. Good job the desert was large because this did fill me up. The next morning we hit breakfast about 09.30 and boy had the locusts descended on the cereals, fruit salad, etc. There was still some choice though. Again the cooked English breakfast portions were on the tiny side. In summary the food is ok, I've eaten better and they do like small portions. The one thing that wowed my socks off was the Cauliflower Puree.

We checked out and meandered down to the beach (about a five minute walk) and on to Littlehampton. If you want coffee the only place we found was the Café on the seafront. As we thought there’d be another one later on, we gave this a miss. We didn’t find another one before we hit the footpath by the Golf Course and wandered back. Pretty scenery. Had a pint of good Ale in “The Black Horse” and walked back to the Hotel. I guess the pub is about a 10 minute walk from Bailiffscourt.

We then hit the Spa. Proper sized swimming pool, controlled times for kid access. Steam Room, Sauna, Jacuzzi with a swimming pool and Jacuzzi outside. I really appreciated being able to access the Spa even though we’d checked out. Gold Star for this.

Would we stay here again? Yes, for sure if we got a deal.

  • Stayed: May 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank Le_Scribe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 April 2010

My husband and I booked a meal at Bailiffscourt for Saturday 24 April to celebrate our wedding anniversary. The food was lovely and the service was great up to a point. The waiters in the main dining room were very attentive and we thoroughly enjoyed our meal. We were then asked if we would like cofffee. On saying yes, we were asked if we would like to remain at our table, or go through to the lounge. We eventually found one of the four small lounges and waited, and waited, and waited...

After about 25 minutes we were getting rather frustrated and managed to catch a member of staff who was walking through and asked if our coffee could be brought to us. Another ten minutes passed and still nothing, but another member of staff stopped by and enquired were we waiting for coffee. We said yes and thought it would be with us shortly. Ten minutes after that, still nothing, so we gave up and went to reception to pay, asking for the coffee to be taken off our bill. The receptionist did apologise, and I paid, sadly with a reduced tip as the shine had rather been taken off the evening by then, and we just wanted to have a coffee at home! The restaurant manager did stop us at that point and ask if we'd had a good evening - we replied that the meal was lovely but that it had been let down and he apologied again, but we were left overall feeling rather disappointed. Not great when the bill was nearly £60 a head. A shame.

  • Stayed: April 2010, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank arcadefire
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 April 2010

Having been disappointed by the no fly ash cloud and the abandonment of our trip to Marrakesh we threw the suitcase is the boot of the car and just drove off. We had no idea where we were going and just saw a sign for the Baliffscourt Hotel on the road. We drove down a small lane and found this very quirky hotel nestled in the trees near the beach. The staff were wonderful and we were allowed a tour of the available rooms to check them out. We even had a choice of old medieval or contemporary rooms. Yes the prices were steep, even after the last minute discount that we were offered but that was for DB&B. We didn't use the Spa but we had a look around and it is very nice with heated in and outdoor pools and a jaccuzi. The room was a bit dusty and the loo didn't work properly but that was all fixed after we made mention of it. Before we had even sampled the food we booked for a second night. The evening meal was lovely and we both enjoyed all of our three courses.
The menu had a number of choices, not too few that you were unable to find something you liked nor too many that you were spoiled for choice, with a chef menu of the day that changed daily.
Finding your way around this quirky hotel is a task in itself and a fascination. Make sure you use the underground passageway to get from the Thatch House to the main building (built by the husband of previous owners to make sure his wife could get to dinner in all her finery without the weather taking its revenge). The ground were also very nice and a five minute stroll allowed you easy access to the beach.
A pot of tea in the afternoon in the walled garden (or the courtyard is you prefer) is wonderful and doesn't have to be expensive.
This hidden gem is well worth a visit.

  • Stayed: April 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank sueanddaveEngland
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 April 2010

I stayed overnight at this hotel with a friend but had also been there previously for meals only. We stayed under a special offer but if we had been paying full price then I would have definitely said that the hotel is over-priced. It's a lovely location and the quirky fake medieval styling makes it a very interesting place to stay. However, my room was a bit worn with flaking paint patches and broken lamp shades. I think the term shabby chic is often used as an excuse for unmaintained. I also found that the bed I had was not very comfortable and had a wobbly headboard (luckily it wasn't a romantic getaway!). I like the laid back atmosphere of this hotel and lovely grounds (complete with peacocks) as it's a great place to just relax with a good book. The spa facilities plus indoor and outdoor pool are good and it was lovely to swim in the heated outdoor pool even in the rain! However, I was really disappointed in the quality of the evening meal and the total silence in the restaurant with people speaking in whispers makes the atmosphere too formal and stuffy (even some quiet classical music in the background would help the atmosphere). I had a great meal about 4 years ago but the last three occasions I have eaten here have not been good. The food at The Spread Eagle (another hotel in this chain) is much better in my opinion. To be honest although there are things I do like about this hotel I feel that the food and standards would need to improve before I would return.

  • Stayed: March 2010, travelled with friends
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1  Thank Debbie30
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 April 2010

We stayed a couple of nights here midweek just before Easter. My opinion of this hotel is not as glowing as most of the reviews here (or my other half!)

The main house was built in the 1920s in a medieval castle style and is a very impressive building. The interior style is very much shabby chic but I found myself cynically wondering if that isn't an easy excuse to have old worn furniture that wouldn't possibly be acceptable in a more modern environment? They also (just about) get away with having worn and dated bathrooms that in another place would not be up to the prices charged for the rooms.

Which brings us to the price. The rack rate of our 'superior' room was £295/night B&B, though we paid £185/night through a discount website. I would not have been happy paying the full price, there is no way that could be justified. It was certainly stretching it for what we paid in my opinion. The room was big, had nice views, tatty furniture, a medieval CRT TV on a floor stand so low it was hard to watch in bed. The choice of channels was poor (5 terrestrial+sky news and annoyingly four satellite sports channels, no movie channels.) There was a DVD player in the room though we never discovered if the hotel would provide DVDs. No fridge in the room. The bed was comfortable, the house's largely effective and novel in-wall heating had to be supplemented with a plug-in electric radiator.

As far as dining goes there is a fixed price 3 course dinner at £47/head and a pricey wine list. You are looking at a minimum of £60/head if you have just half a bottle of wine per person. Food was good but did not justify the price. I had a lamb cutlet (yes just the one!) that was cooked all the way through, I was expecting the more usual default of pink in the middle. Dinner was otherwise ok but not worthy of the price and you have to pay for three courses whether you want them or not. One blessing is that no service charge is added, though the service was very good with pleasant (though in one case somewhat over talkative) staff.

There is no bar as such, you sit in a lounge and ask a member of staff to get you a drink. There are many cosy little lounges in the hotel, quite a nice feature, again prices of drinks are extortionate. I was going to have a cognac nightcap until I found out that it would cost a few pence shy of £10! (Fortunately I had a bottle in our room that I'd brought with me in anticipation of otherwise being fleeced.)

The spa is very nicely done, though we certainly benefitted from the hotel being relatively quiet, it may not have been so nice with many more people. The pool(s) are quite nice, but too small for serious swimming. The gym was hardly a gym, very few items of equipment were available, though what was there was quite new and in good condition.

Another problem if you are there for more than one night is that if you want to eat dinner elsewhere (and you probably will not want to pay more than once for their dinner offering) you need to get a taxi into Arundel, round trip £26, which eats considerably into any cost saving!

As far as breakfast goes, it is served in a very nice dining room (adjacent to the main dining room). I had the full English cooked breakfast, it was OK but I've had much better in far less grand establishments.

They have a fine courtyard that would be very nice in the summer, alas the weather during our stay was appalling even for the time of year.

All in all, a pleasant place to stay for a couple of days, but no longer than that.

  • Stayed: April 2010, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Keith-in-Brighton-UK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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