Lodges at New House Farm
Luxury meets rural idyll in the Sussex Weald where you'll find a hot tub with a view, fluffy bath robes and friendly alpacas.
You don’t need to holiday in South America to sit in a hot tub and gaze out on an alpaca field, it turns out, you just need to go as far as East Sussex.
Alpacas are one of the more unusual neighbours at The Lodges at New House Farm, in the High Weald at Etchingham, which opened earlier this year. Impressively, it only took around two years to turn a collection of farm buildings here into luxury self-catering accommodation – the labour of love of Nina and Jon who have had careers in marketing, and DJing and music production respectively before turning their talents in a new direction. Oh and they had twins during the process. Makes the rest of us look like a bunch of slackers, eh?
There are six spacious lodges with characterful beams. Ours, fairly typically, featured a large plush corner sofa, a king-size bed with Egyptian cotton sheets and, in the bathroom, a Victorian roll top bath, heated towel rail, REN toiletries and fluffy robes and slippers.
There’s a lovely hedged communal garden beyond where I enjoyed settling in a swinging chair to read and greeting the odd free range duck or chicken.
Beyond the garden are fields, the nearest of which is home to the farm’s bottle-reared pet and rescue animals.
There’s a also small communal pool with loungers (right outside your door if you plump for the Pool Lodge) and that hot tub I mentioned, positioned for knockout views.
Guests receive a welcome trug with local cheeses, honey and jam, fruit juice, and bread from Ticehurst’s Lighthouse Bakery (a former Muddy Awards winner). You can also pre-order picnic hampers.
If you fancy a break from self-catering in your smart kitchen, there are numerous good eateries within a short drive. There’s quirky The Bell at Ticehurst, where I’ve enjoyed a good meal before and The Curlew at Bodiam is within five miles (both were 2018 Muddy Awards finalists), while pub with a view The White Hart is at Netherfield.
We opted for a simple fish and chips and veggie burger close by at The George Inn, Robertsbridge and saw numerous rabbits and a pheasant or two as we rolled back to the farm.
Then we went for a pre-dusk dip in the large hot tub watching the animals beyond before returning to our squashy settee to catch the last episode of A Very English Scandal on a big screen TV, which felt like a cinema compared to ours at home.
Though there’s plenty for coupley relaxation, the site also lends itself to families, with extra beds and sofa beds for young guests (high chairs and cots can also be requested). Kids especially will love the friendly resident alpacas, sheep and Shetland pony who all come to the fence to be a fed at certain times.
A great idea besides is the communal 300-year-old Long Barn in a converted pig shed which effectively weatherproofs your break with common room type space for children and adults featuring pool tables, games, a mezzanine snug and a kitchen area.
Parties and activities
If you hire out the whole site for a big bash with family and friends you can gather in the Long Barn to dine banquet style, hiring a personal chef. That would certainly put a cheery spin on a big birthday.
You can also pre-book a whole range of other additions – a massage therapist, one-to-one yoga, personal training, guided bike rides or walks, falconry, clay pigeon shooting, foraging excursions, craft parties or wine tasting, Pop-up cookery courses at New House Farm are in the pipeline.
If you are a cycler or walker, you can reach New House Farm under your own power from nearby Etchingham station. The Cuckoo Trail can be accessed close by.
In the area
Kipling’s former home, Bateman’s is just up the road at Burwash. (Read my post of a former visit here) and Bodiam Castle is also nearby. Hastings for sea, vintage shops and an increasingly hipster vibe is an easy day trip.
Muddy Award Winning deli/farm shop Eggs to Apples is close at hand for top self-catering supplies from local producers. There’s also a cafe area there indoors and out and it puts on events life pop-up suppers and BBQs fairly regularly.
I had some excellent lemon drizzle cake in the cafe at the back of King John’s Nursery, which includes a gorgeous garden (there’s also a library snug area and a children’s soft play corner). We found ourselves sharing the lawn with some sleepy Indian Runner ducks and some large hens, one of which was very keen to get its beak on our crumbs! You can also buy tickets here to access the eight acre gardens of King John’s Lodge.
The Muddy verdict:
Good for: Countryside immersion without skimping on luxury. Walkers or cyclists who want to head off towards the horizon – there are maps with suggested routes. A family break with room for youngsters to roam and animals to interest them. Special occasion gatherings of family and/or friends.
Not so good for: Though you’ve privacy within your own large lodge if you’re looking for total seclusion you couldn’t guarantee there’d be no others staying on site. If you’re after a big night out the nearest major towns, Hastings or Tunbridge Wells are about 30 mins away.
The Lodges at New House Farm, Sheepstreet Lane, Etchingham, TN19 7AY , thelodgesnhf.com