Going to Glyndebourne is always such a treat but until now we have always driven down and trekked back into town after the opera. So how much nicer it was this year to stay locally at the Elizabethan Gravetye Manor, which is a 45 minute commute away and, like Glyndebourne, hidden in a particularly bucolic fold of East Sussex. And although the opera festival is now over for this year (although you can still catch Glyndebourne on Tour from 4 October – 10 December), we are flagging up this hidden gem for next year.
The overall atmosphere at Gravetye is old-fashioned with a soupcon of 21st-century. The rooms and gardens have been lavishly restored but it remains the kind of place where the wallpaper is floral, the carpets marshmallow-soft and where flowers by Sue Flight (who took Gold at Chelsea this year) line the corridors. The silence at night here is overwhelming but blissful. It remains warm and friendly though, and comforting. The sensational 35-acre formal garden is set within a wider 1000 acres that keeps the world out.
The 21st-century comes in in the shape of George Blogg, a dynamic new chef from Le Champignon Sauvage who joined this summer, working closely with the head gardener Tom Coward to create new menus using produce from the estate and local suppliers. The hotel bagged AA Hotel of the Year England this year. Gorgeous Gravetye is resolutely old school, but it has still got it.