A network of busy roads, dipping in and out of hilly Sussex countryside, lead to Blue Door Barns. Keep your wits about you for the discreet turning and drive straight through to the back where you’ll find the small cluster of blue-door barns, which the property is named after.
The bed and breakfast is set on a large plot of land in Beddingham near Lewes and is owned and run by Emma, a former publicist, and Bryony, who used to run a PR company. This isn’t your archetypal worn B&B – it’s a modern business full of clever, personal touches, which are continually assessed and upgraded.
The Sailor's House at Blue Door Barns
There are four barns available to hire. The Sailors House is the smallest, sleeping two in a cosy bedroom, with en-suite shower. The largest – The Lodge – has a lounge, kitchen and curvy, freestanding tub. The rooms, styled by interiors whizz Emma, are reminiscent of a French country house – all white washed walls, worn retro signage, warm glowing lights and brass fixtures. The barns are dotted around a terrace with stone fireplace, seating and hanging lanterns. Surrounded by potted plants and curiosities (a cart wheel, a mirror, and signage) it could, on a sunny day, feel like Provence, rather southern England.
Behind the accommodation barns is a small shed called The Snug. It looks like it should house gardening tools but it’s actually a treatment room, where guests can experience massage, facials, reflexology, reiki and beauty treatments from one of four local therapists. We had a glorious one-hour facial (£65) from Stephanie Slade, who uses her own organic skincare range, Bareface. It’s worth booking treatments in advance. In line with these therapies, Emma and Bryony have launched wellness weekends (see the website for details on dates).
Enjoy a treatment in The Snug
Food and drink
Food at Blue Door Barns is strictly a morning affair but this is no fry-up-only gig. Guests are emailed a menu 48 hours before arrival and asked to choose their dishes, all of which are made by Bryony and are constantly being tweaked (if you’re lucky, you’ll be passing through the kitchen when this happens and can opt to test out a dish).
Breakfast is served every morning in Emma and Bryony’s airy living/ dining room at a large, shared dining table. We found the set-up convivial but if you want privacy, specify this when booking your dining time. The 'Why Miss Jones', was a salty, hangover-solving dish of avocado, toast, poached egg and chorizo. Baked eggs with potatoes, prosciutto and chilli was a rich, comforting dish, which we’d happily have for dinner, too. You could, of course, choose one of the healthier porridge, fruit or granola dishes.
Experience Emma's home-cooked breakfasts in the lounge each morning
Off premises, we recommend the Sussex Ox for lunch or dinner. It’s nestled in a corner of patchwork fields near Alfriston and serves up high quality, refined versions of trad pub dishes. A bit further afield (a 25 minute drive from Blue Door Barns) is Eastbourne’s The Beach Deck, a windswept beachfront café, which serves sandwiches, juices and wonderful hot chocolate (best drank while sat on the deck, possibly wrapped in one of the café’s complimentary blankets).
Out and about
Blue Door Barns is well positioned for visiting annual summer opera festival Glyndebourne. Performances begin in the afternoon and stop for a long interval when the audience unpack their picnics and uncork champagne. Blue Door Barns offers an opera package, including transport and picnic set-up, with three menus to choose from.
The village of Alfriston on the Cuckmere River has chocolate-box houses, winding country lanes and tea shops. Lots of tea shops. We recommend Badgers, a higgledy piggledy café, reached from the street or through its small garden at the rear. The ceilings are low, the tables are lined with floral cloths and tea arrives with the full silver service. The cakes here are brilliant, often twisting a classic, such as a fluffy Victoria sponge, laced with gooseberry and elderflower. The fruit scones with clotted cream are a delight. The village is worth exploring, either following one of the walking paths (ask a local or head to the car park and walk north along the path) or browsing in the shops (Steamer Trading is a high point for kitchen junkies).
There are several walking tracks around magnificent Beachy Head
Twenty minutes’ drive from Blue Door Barns are the spectacular cliffs of Beachy Head. There are various walks you can do here, ranging from the easy three-mile walk to Falling Sand’s beach viewpoint, to the more challenging eight-mile tramp through Exceat, East Dene and Seven Sisters.
Getting there and away
The best way to reach Blue Door Barns is by car. Alternatively, take a train to Brighton (20 minutes’ drive away), Lewes (eight minutes’ drive away) or Glynde (five minutes’ drive away) and take a taxi the final part of the journey.
Weekday room rates start at £100 per night, for bed and breakfast, based on two people sharing.
Visit bluedoorbarns.com or phone 01273 858 893 to book