This recently refurbished hotel combines formal and casual eating spots and charming secret gardens
Remember that kid at school who was somehow good at everything – maths, art, sport…? I’ve found such a multi-tasking star in hotel form at The Highdown at Goring-by-Sea.
A hotel, pub/restaurant combo is not unusual but The Highdown also combines a neighbouring tearoom and gorgeous gardens to explore.
Scoff & quaff
If you’re dining here, there’s a mix of spots to suit the mood, occasion and weather. On our visit people were enjoying lunches in the wood panelled restaurant – perfect for a cosy vibe, a formal working lunch, or a celebration. Other groups were drinking or eating in the bar area, and with the sun going in and out we took a chance on the large terrace. It was pretty packed for a Friday lunch time so do book ahead if you have a particular spot in mind.
The menus are varied so I had a fish pie off the main menu and my friend had a harrissa lamb flatbread from the light bites menu.
The fish pie was a deconstructed affair with a light summery style, a stack of large individual chunks of fish and perfectly cooked prawns accompanied with sweet French-style peas in a creamy sauce.
My friends Harissa lamb was a filling affair with feta, pomegranate, cous cous and mint yoghurt.
Other options on the menu at the time included asparagus pea and feta quiche, beef bourguignon, venison steak, a chicken, ham and leek pie and on Sunday the roasts include a beef and pork combo.
There are crowd pleasers like triple chocolate brownies, sticky toffee pudding and apple tarte tatin among the afters.
Beer fans will be pleased to see local brews on the taps.
The Highdown was originally a grand three story family mansion built in the 19th century. My friend remembered it more recently as her teenage haunt when it was a nightclub called Sterns, popular on the rave scene.
We had a peek at a couple of the hotel rooms while we were there (we did ask first!) which have had a recent makeover and are very smart and comfortable, with a classic look with modern accent colours. . Some have particularly flash bathrooms with roll top baths. All have nice touches like L’Occitane toiletries and rainfall showers. Best of all, though rates vary, the lead in prices are very reasonable.
Rather than having pudding on this occasion we dropped into the adjoining cafe in a cute flint building which sits beside the hotel where I picked up a fantastic moist slice of lemon drizzle (annoying if I’m honest as it put my own efforts at this cake to shame!), before heading into the gardens.
You can stay put of course and lunch here on sandwiches, toasties, tea, coffee and cake. It’s open nine to five.
The beautifully kept gardens beside the Highdown are a real hidden gem, smallish but with plenty of varied planting and nooks and crannies to explore. Perfect for hanging out with young kids or older relatives, especially as the paths looked suitable for buggies and those with reduced mobility. Older kids would no doubt enjoy hiding out behind the plants and trees.
They were established over 100 years ago and include specimens from early plant hunting expeditions in China.
The best thing is they are completely free, you can even take a picnic, or some pastries and cake as we did from the Highdown cafe just the other side of the hedge.
There’s parking directly outside The Highdown and in an overflow car park beside the gardens and this is also free.
In the area
The Highdown is set back from the traffic enough not to be noisy but being just off the Littlehampton Road is very handy as a base for day trips along this part of the coast. It’s within striking distance of Worthing, Brighton and the Downs, Littlehampton and Arundel.
You can also take a circular walk from the pub, detailed on the website. Cyclists staying over can keep their bikes in an underground lock up. Look out also for events coming up like wine tastings and pub dog walks.
The Highdown, Littlehampton Road, Goring-by-Sea, BN12 6FB brunningandprice.co.uk
***** COMP CLOSED ***** winner Sam Bennett ****
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