Blue Door Barns French-style stay
Firle Bed-and-Breakfast with chic vintage decor
I’ve been meaning to tell you about this little gem called Blue Door Barns for a while and as it’s somewhere I think lends itself to long summer nights and autumn breaks, now’s as good as time as any.
At Firle, near Lewes, the site is a mix of bed-and-breakfast and self-catering. There are four rooms in converted farm buildings which sit around a pretty courtyard with outdoor fireplace that has lazy evenings sipping wine written all over it.
Romantic and French-influenced, it shows its owners’ taste for antiques – all a bit Provence-style – think lavender in enamel jugs, and a pale blue white and grey palette.
I’m not usually a fan of ‘distressed’ furniture but they carried it off well and I loved the antique Parisian window bearing a perfume ad that was hung like a picture in my bathroom (so much so I’m planning my own take on it with a piece of salvaged stained glass). Despite the vintage trappings, bathrooms are modern, with REN toiletries – a favourite of mine since I had them on a spa day at Ockenden Manor.
If you plump for bed and breakfast as I did then ooh la la, a spread awaits you at a farmhouse table at one end of a lounge filled with gorgeous flea market-style finds. A vintage gramophone was playing retro music and a spaniel was curled up on the settee. I basically wanted to move in.
The breakfast (I had a veggie version with avocado) was a good as the setting. If you’re self catering you can order a breakfast welcome hamper to aid your preparation.
There’s an extra treat in store in the form of a converted shed that’s now called The Snug. The last time I was listening to music in a shed it was One Direction in my nephews’ den. Here, thankfully I had instead soothing African rhythms to lull me in a cosy womb-like treatment room lit by candles.
Massages and facials are offered by a visiting therapist (book in advance) and the massage I had felt really technical – the sort that’s actually doing you good rather than simply relaxing you for a while.
In the area
Blue Door Barns is a sudden turn off a road leading off the A26 (keep your eyes peeled) so there’s a bit of background noise as a result but not enough to spoil a visit. It’s on the South Downs way, near Lewes. Glyndebourne and Charleston House should you be planning a culture fix. You can even arrange to get there in a chauffeur-driven vintage Rover!
Owners Bryony and Emma have poured their local recommendations for shops, eateries, walks and the like into a beautiful hardback book. Following one of their tips, my husband and I ate our evening meal at The Ram Inn in Firle.
It’s an atmospheric 500-year-old gastro pub that has a particularly cosy atmosphere if you’re around in the winter months. It seems to have a good community vibe too as there was a drop in folk music jam happening in another room. Some of the meat has actually grazed at nearby Firle Place, it’s that local and a lot of the fish (we had a giant plaice!) comes from Shoreham while some, they say, is actually caught by the local vicar!
Blue barns will occasionally cater in the evenings for special parties by special arrangement so do ask. If you’re planning a party it’s good to know that not only can you rent out all the cluster of cottages together – great for a family get together but the garden beside the owners’ house is filled with stuff to amuse children and adults – vintage cars, swings, a gypsy caravan, campfire area etc and can be rented for weddings receptions and the like.
The Muddy Verdict
Good for: Romantic breaks, or a family stay. Vintage-lovers and Francophiles. Family/friends reunions of up to 12 renting together.
Not so good for: The largest self-catering room has a steep staircase to the mezzanine level so not so good for toddlers (or tipsy adults carrying them!) and you’d also need to bear in mind the busy road nearby. The smallest room hasn’t much sitting around space if the weather’s bad.
Blue Doors Barns, Beddingham, Lewes, East Sussex, BN8 6JY 01273 858 893 bluedoorbarns.com