10 best places to stay in Sussex

Accommodation, Days out

Posted by Ruth on 27th January 2021


Sussex is a brilliantly varied holiday destination, where you can explore historic battlefields in the morning, wander secluded cliff-top trails in the afternoon and finish your day dining at award-winning restaurants in vibrant cities. Plus, only an hour or so on the train from London, the county is easy to get away to for an impromptu break.

So, with so much to offer, where are the best places to stay in Sussex? We’ve narrowed down 10 of the best places to visit in Sussex, whether you’re looking for a family-friendly holiday, a spontaneous romantic getaway, or are looking to for some seclusion and serenity on a rural retreat.

Read on to discover our favourite places to go in Sussex, or click the button below to find your perfect base for exploring this diverse area of the South Coast.

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Bexhill-on-Sea: best for beautiful buildings

Bexhill-on-Sea has long shrugged off its reputation as a quiet and gentle town popular with retirees, and is now one of our favourite places to visit in East Sussex. In fact, it’s hard to believe it ever had that reputation in the first place – the town is famous as being the site of Bob Marley’s first UK gig, it’s known as the birthplace of British Motor Racing, and was also where the Guinness World Record for the largest Charleston dance was awarded. Quiet and gentle indeed!

There are lots of reasons to visit Bexhill-on-Sea, but it’s one of the best Sussex places to visit if you’re an architecture aficionado. The seafront is home to the resplendent De La Warr Pavilion, a Grade I-listed Art Deco building which incidentally is also a great place for a cocktail, and Old Town is filled with some fantastic Georgian architecture that will make you feel as if you’re taking a step back in time. If you want to learn more, you can take a self-guided tour around the town to take in all the most important buildings, sculptures and other sites of interest.  

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Pevensey Bay

Pevensey Bay: best for a family holiday

Home to a beautiful beach and situated close to some of the best days out with kids in Sussex, Pevensey Bay is one of our favourite places to stay in East Sussex for a family-friendly holiday. There’s plenty to do within the town itself, including a visit to the historic Pevensey Castle, an afternoon in the Court House Museum or a day out on the beautiful shingle beach, plus there are many restaurants and tearooms to dine out in too, so you don’t need to go far.

However, if you do want to explore the wider Sussex area, you’ll find plenty of family attractions nearby too, including Drusillas Park, Knockhatch Adventure Park, The Observatory Science Centre and Herstmonceux Castle, all offering fun days out for the whole group, no matter what age your little ones are. Plus, as the town is between the South Downs National Park and the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), there are plenty of opportunities for invigorating family walks too.

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Lewes: best for foodies and fire enthusiasts

It sounds like a strange combination, but it’s true – Lewes is not only famous for its many delicious eateries, but also for its blazing Bonfire Night party which sees its narrow streets crammed with groups in fancy dress carrying burning torches and political effigies, before culminating in a giant bonfire in the town. It’s definitely an event you should visit at least once in your life.

However, if you prefer your holidays where the only fire is the one that’s sizzling your food to perfection, Lewes has that covered too as it’s home to plenty of fantastic places to eat and drink to suit all tastes. Visit the oldest independent brewery in Sussex, Harvey’s Brewery; pick up some delicious freshly baked goods at Flint Owl Bakery or enjoy a Mediterranean-style night out at Symposium Emporium where you can enjoy delicious wines, great conversation and tapas-style platters. If you want to travel further afield, you can even explore some Sussex vineyards; Ridgeview Wine Estate, Breaky Bottom and Black Dog Hill Vineyard are all within 10 miles of Lewes.


Pett: best for a restful break

If you’re wondering where to go in Sussex to really get away from it all, Pett is a great option. This sleepy village surrounded by countryside and close to the coast is one of the best places to go in East Sussex for a relaxing break. Immerse yourself in nature by exploring the High Weald AONB that surrounds the village, where you can see a variety of wading birds at nearby Pett Pools such as sandpipers, curlew and redshank, or take long walks through the incredible scenery. Ornithologists will also love a trip to Pannel Valley Nature Reserve, home to buzzards, chiffchaff and storks.

You can also visit the ancient woodland at Guestling Wood, on the outskirts of Pett, where you can walk through the landscape carpeted with bluebells, wood anemone and foxgloves in spring, and listen to the babbling brook. If it’s coastal scenery you crave, Pett Level Beach is a quiet stretch of shingle flanked by cliffs, where the low tide reveals an 8000-year-old petrified forest. You may recognise the beach from David Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes video, proving that even the sleepiest Sussex village can enjoy its 5 minutes of fame!

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Burwash: best for literature lovers

Another beautiful village in the High Weald AONB, Burwash is characterised by its traditional red-brick buildings amongst rolling green fields. It’s one of the top places to visit in Sussex for those who love literature, as it was put on the map by its most famous resident: Rudyard Kipling, author of The Jungle Book. Kipling moved to the village in his late 30s and remained there for the rest of his life; there are plenty of places of interest in the village where you can find out more about the famous author.

The most popular is Bateman’s, the house Kipling bought and lived in for the majority of his adult life. The 17th-century Jacobean home is now in the care of the National Trust; you can look around the house, take a tour of the 300-acre estate and walk around the traditional country garden. Other popular sites include the Rudyard Kipling statue in Burwash village, where you can take a seat on a bench next to a figure of the author, and The Bear pub which has a room dedicated to Kipling.

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South Downs

South Downs: best for being inspired by nature

If you’re looking for the best places to visit in Sussex for breathtaking scenery, look no further than the South Downs. This national park stretches for 87 miles across much of West and East Sussex and has beautiful views at every turn. It’s characterised by the rolling green hills that undulate softly towards the coastline, stopping suddenly at the edge of the giant chalk cliffs that plunge towards the shingle beaches below.

There are plenty of ways to explore this diverse landscape, but the best way is on foot via the South Downs Way National Trust. It runs for 100 miles from Sussex to Hampshire and takes you along huge white cliffs above glistening blue sea, through historic villages and across patchwork green fields. Places that you should include on your itinerary include the highest point in the national park – Ditchling Beacon – and the iconic scenery of the Seven Sisters Country Park, although it’s great to visit at night too; the South Downs is an International Dark Sky Reserve and therefore one of the best places in the country for stargazing.

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Arundel: best for a romantic day out

Presided over by an imposing castle and with an olde-worlde feel, Arundel is one of our favourite places to visit in West Sussex for a romantic getaway. With its impressive architecture and beautiful setting on the edge of the South Downs, the town has a fairy-tale atmosphere just right for a day out with your loved one.

Your first port of call has to be a walk around Arundel Castle and Gardens, where the medieval architecture and pretty scenery will take you back to the times of courtly love – it’s especially beautiful in spring when the gardens are abloom with brightly coloured tulips and alliums. After that, you could take a rowing boat across Swanbourne Lake before refreshments at the tearooms there. And there’s no better end to a romantic day out than a sunset dip at Arundel Lido, where you can glide through the cool water as the sky above you turns every shade of orange.

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Brighton: best for an action-packed break

If you’re wondering where to stay in Sussex for a fun-filled break, you couldn’t do better than Brighton. We’d go so far as to say it’s impossible to be bored in this city, such is the sheer amount of things to see and do. Brighton was put on the map by King George IV who travelled to the city for his leisure time, beginning its hedonistic reputation that still pervades today. And while there are no end of fantastic places for nights out, there is also a wide range of family-friendly activities, places to eat and drink, cultural hotspots and shopping destinations too.

Begin your holiday with a trip up the British Airways i360, a 162-metre observation tower giving you incredible views of the city and the coastline. Then walk to the end of Brighton Pier for a traditional seaside atmosphere; play on the fairground games, munch on candyfloss and fish and chips, or try out one of the rides if you have a head for heights! Then head to North Laine for a true flavour of the city’s independent spirit; you’ll find everything here from vintage shops to high-end boutiques; graffiti to galleries; street food to fine-dining restaurants.

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Chichester: best for culture

One of the best places to stay in West Sussex, Chichester can be overshadowed by the larger Sussex cities. However, it more than packs a punch when it comes to great things to see and do – take a walk around the historic buildings and cathedral, take a trip down to the harbour or dine out at one of the many fantastic places to eat in the city.

Chichester is also a brilliant place to visit if you’re a culture vulture. The Chichester Festival Theatre should be first on your itinerary; this venue boasts a year-round programme of touring productions, musicals, dramas and its traditional Christmas show, plus there are many places to enjoy a pre-show meal or drink too. If art is more your thing, head to Pallant House Gallery. The beautiful 18th-century brick building showcases a range of modern art that aims to be intelligent and thought-provoking. Plus, you could always time your visit to coincide with the glamorous Goodwood Festival of Speed, held just outside the city in July every year, where you can see an array of classic motor vehicles zoom up the parkland drive of the country house.

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Hastings: best for history lovers

When we say Hastings, you’d probably think of the famous battle where William the Conqueror defeated King Harold, beginning the Norman conquest of England. However, most historians agree the battle actually took place 7 miles outside Hastings, in Battle. But Hastings is still a fantastic place to visit for history lovers – right in the heart of 1066 Country, it’s a brilliant base for a fascinating trip, with plenty of sites to visit and sights to see.

You could visit the ruins of Hastings Castle, constructed by William the Conqueror and an early example of the classic motte and bailey castle, or step forward in time with a trip to Smugglers Adventure, where you can explore the underground caves which were once frequented by bootleggers in the 18th century. And if you need a break from your historical adventuring, Hastings is also home to one of the best beaches in Sussex – the perfect setting for getting some sea air while you devour some fresh fish and chips.

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Stay with us in Sussex

There are so many places to go in West Sussex and East Sussex, start planning your action-packed South Coast break. We have a wide range of places to stay, from cute boltholes in historic villages to chic city-centre apartments. Take a look at our full collection of Sussex cottages below to find your perfect place to stay.

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Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.