Culture Trip’s Guide to Sussex in Spring

Cuckmere Haven, western end of the Seven Sisters cliffs in East Sussex
Cuckmere Haven, western end of the Seven Sisters cliffs in East Sussex | © Andrew Benton / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Benjamin Kempton
Travel Writer18 February 2021

Tired of being cooped up in the city? London to Sussex is only a short trip and provides the perfect respite from the confines of the capital. Make the most of the warmer Spring weather by stretching your legs on a hike around Seven Sisters or journey back in time at Bodiam Castle. We’ve also picked the best places to stay to make a proper British holiday out of it.

A trip to South East England is a trip into quintessential countrysides and coastlines, as well as rich medieval history. Once it’s own kingdom in the sixth century, remnants of an Anglo Saxon era can still be found.

It’s also statistically got more sunshine than anywhere else in the UK, which lends to the success of the county’s vineyards. And don’t forget to pack the swimming gear for a Spring dip in the English Channel when visiting one of the county’s beautiful beaches.

Choose from a whole range of places to stay, from romantic hotels in Brighton to the best bed and breakfasts in Eastbourne. We’ve hand-picked some of our favourites below.

Seven Sisters

Seven Sisters cliffs in Sussex | © Andrew Benton / Alamy Stock Photo

Head to the South Downs coastline where you’ll find this collection of dramatic chalk cliffs, open grasslands and meandering river valleys. Seven Sister Country Park is perfect for a long hike. It’s just under eight miles and takes around six hours to walk the entire thing. The views along the way of the impressive geological formation and the crashing Channel way below are nothing short of breathtaking. Visit Cuckmere Haven Beach along the way, a quiet, pet-friendly seaside spot near the town of Seaford.

Saltmarsh Farmhouse

Boutique Hotel
Map View
Saltmarsh Farmhouse
Courtesy of Saltmarsh Farmhouse / Expedia
In a restored 16th-century farmhouse just north of Seven Sisters is Saltmarsh, an ideal base for exploring the South Downs Way. Wooden beams and roaring fireplaces make it feel like a truly cosy countryside retreat. Everything is done locally where possible: the coffee is roasted in Litlington, teas are from Kent & Sussex Tea Co and scones are freshly made at the hotel.

Bodiam Castle

Steam train locomotive engine passes Bodiam Castle | © Tim Graham / Alamy Stock Photo

No other historical landmark defines the British medieval period quite like the archetypal Bodiam Castle, which features in our list of the 15 most beautiful castles in the world. Its iconic circular towers, ramparts, gatehouse and surrounding moat were all features constructed to defend against the French invasion in the 14th-century. The grounds are open to visit and you can bring your furry friend along for the adventure too. As well as the building itself, there are sleepy meadows and an abundance of wildlife that are best enjoyed during Spring. The castle can be found near Robertsbridge in East Sussex, just over an hour’s drive from London.

Hotel du Vin & Bistro Tunbridge Wells

Boutique Hotel, Chain Hotel
Map View
Hotel du Vin & Bistro Tunbridge Wells
Courtesy of Hotel du Vin & Bistro Tunbridge Wells / Expedia | Courtesy of Hotel du Vin & Bistro Tunbridge Wells / Expedia
Half an hour drive from Bodiam Castle is the 18th-century Hotel du Vin & Bistro mansion in Tunbridge Wells. Beautiful gardens and countryside surround the manor that once hosted Queen Victoria. Regal flourishes can still be seen today, from the sweeping staircase to the lavishly large beds and deep roll-top baths.
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Camber Sands

Camber Sands beach as visitors enjoy the miles long golden sands | © PAL Media / Alamy Stock Photo

You’ll want to bring the bodyboard for this one – and not just for the waves. Camber Sands has some of the largest dunes on the south coast. It’s also one of the few sandy beaches in Sussex. Bring a picnic with a bucket and spade for a family-fun day on the beach. Kite-surfing is also a popular activity here for those that are more inclined to a faster pace of life. Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, Camber Castle and Broomhill Sands are all nearby if you want to explore the East Sussex area near Rye further.

View Hotel Folkestone

Boutique Hotel, Hotel
Map View
View Hotel Folkestone
Courtesy of View Hotel Folkestone / Expedia
Drive along the coast to Folkstone, where you can stay at the View Hotel townhouse in The Leas, the clifftop promenade. Expect high ceilings, fireplaces and bay windows with oceanscape views across the English Channel. The bar and restaurant, the Cliffe, focus on local produce, from locally caught crab to fresh mussels.
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Eastbourne

Eastbourne promenade | © Mim Friday / Alamy Stock Photo

Funfairs, fish and chips and a stroll along the Victorian pier, all the makings of a fun-filled seaside holiday. Eastbourne is also the sunniest place in the UK, has award-winning beaches and is only an hour and a half from London, by train and car. Entry into the Towner contemporary art museum is free and there’s a unique 200-year-old round fortress called the Redoubt that is worth a visit, no doubt. Sovereign Harbour is lovely to walk around on a warm day or set up base on the beach. One of the real highlights here though is afternoon tea, along with a browse in the gift shops, on the pier.

The Mowbray

Bed and Breakfast
Map View
The Mowbray
Courtesy of The Mowbray / Expedia
A classic Edwardian townhouse B&B with a colourful history just a stone’s throw from Eastbourne’s seafront and main attractions. There’s a spacious lounge to relax in after a day of activities in the town, and a stylish new bar to enjoy a drink from in the evening.
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Ashdown Forest

Footpath through bluebell woods in the Ashdown Forest | © Stuart Black / Alamy Stock Photo

Discover the places that inspired the tales of Winnie-the-Pooh at this vast, ancient stretch of countryside and woodland. What used to be deer hunting grounds in Norman times is now the High Weald Area of Outstanding Beauty with a huge amount of different protected wildlife species. The Royal Ashdown Forest Golf Club is one of the oldest courses in the country, having been founded in 1888. Escape the city in just over an hour for fresh air and spectacular scenery.

One Warwick Park Hotel

Boutique Hotel, Hotel
Map View
One Warwick Park Hotel
Courtesy of One Warwick Park Hotel / Expedia
A drive from the forest into Tunbridge Wells takes under 20 minutes and it’s where you’ll find this boutique converted brewery and old schoolhouse. One Warwick Park Hotel is in the centre of the town so you can discover all of the attractions the Tunbridge Wells has to offer, and you can book yourself in for a soothing massage at the onsite wellness sanctuary, perfect after a day of trekking through Ashdown Forest.
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