England, the land of traditions, hilly landscapes, afternoon tea, and picturesque old villages with charming cottages. In this travel guide, we'd like to take you to a part of authentic and idyllic Southeast England. To villages where people buy organic products from local farmers, where time seems to have stood still, and where you can completely relax and momentarily forget the stress of daily life. We start in Rye, East Sussex.
Rye: A step back in time
In East Sussex, you'll find the town of Rye, one of the most beautiful and well-preserved medieval towns in England. Due to its coastal location and the presence of the three rivers Rother, Tillingham, and Brede, Rye was an important fortress town in medieval times and has a lot of smuggling stories.
Rye has good connections to other parts of England. The town has just under 5000 residents, and it feels like time has stood still there for hundreds of years. With narrow sloping streets lined with natural stone, beautiful medieval houses, and the "Landgate", which is an impressive medieval city gate.
Local and organic
But Rye also has a modern side with its contemporary teashops and restaurants, which only serve organic food bought from local fishermen and farmers.
You can also visit the numerous farm shops to find local, organic specialties. Ranging from goat cheese from the many goat farms to fruit from the ancient orchards of Kent. Fish is caught in the Rye Bay, and lamb meat comes from the sheep grazing on the grasslands of Romney Marsh.
Whether you're a food enthusiast or simply looking for an authentic, culinary experience, the farm shops in Rye have something for everyone.
Behind the old facades of High Street, there is also trendy and modern side to the village. Like the modern "rest-café" called The Fig. Here, you can enjoy a drink and a healthy meal. They also offer accommodation. Each room has its own style, all furnished in a modern and stylish manner.
When you step into The Fig, it feels like walking into a home design magazine. You'll be warmly welcomed by host Rosie Furnival, she's the chef and a local farmer's daughter. She serves a small, changing menu featuring dishes from around the world, with a focus on fresh, healthy, and varied food.
From High Street, you can easily stroll to Mermaid Street, where it truly feels like you're stepping back in time. When you see it, you'll understand why: beautiful medieval cobblestone streets, half-timbered houses, authentic antique shops, and teashops make Mermaid Street incredibly photogenic.
The best view of Mermaid Street is at the very top. When you walk down Mermaid Street from there, it's like stepping into a painting. Each house has its own name, and many buildings haven't changed in decades.
The Hide Out
If you want a quieter overnight stay and a complete escape from everyday life, book a night at The Hide Out. This shepherd's hut (cabin) is located on top of a hill, surrounded by woods, with a view of the English coast.
The Hide Out features a comfortable living area with a fireplace, a fully equipped kitchenette, and a bathroom. At the top of the loft, you'll find a comfortable double bed which you can reach via a wooden ladder. The wooden interior of the entire cabin exudes warmth and tranquillity.
Outside on the terrace, there's a barbecue and a fire pit, perfect for enjoying the fresh outdoor air and breathtaking views, even in the late hours. You're likely to spot sheep, pheasants, and squirrels.
Good to know: You park your car a little further into the woods, and there's no electricity or internet. A short walk, and you're at The Hide Out. This way, you can truly immerse yourself in nature, away from cars and the distractions of social media. Turn off your phone, grab a good book, and enjoy the tranquillity of nature.
Pubs and Cafés
If you're looking for some entertainment and want to go out in the evening, visit one of the many English pubs in Rye. Near The Hide Out, you'll find The Plough, a cozy and typical old English pub. You can enjoy small dishes made with ingredients from local farmers. If you visit in the evening, there's a good chance you'll meet some local farmers who have been working in the fields all day.
A little over two hours' drive away is Charleston Farmhouse, an artistic country house in Charleston that is definitely worth a visit.
In 1916, the house was occupied by the artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. During their time there, they transformed the entire house, including all the furniture, into a work of art. They painted not only on canvas but also on the walls, doors, furniture, ceramics, and textiles in the house. Even the walled garden was turned into a flower garden with statues, mosaics, and ponds. It makes Charleston Farmhouse a very special, unique place where you'll be captivated by the artistry.
About 12 kilometres from Charleston Farmhouse is the Seven Sisters, one of England's most iconic natural wonders. The Seven Sisters consist of seven impressive cliffs, each with a unique name, such as Haven Brow, Short Brow, Rough Brow. These names are based off their distinct shapes and heights. The Seven Sisters is a popular destination for hikers, nature enthusiasts, and photographers.
When you're there, take the cliffside walking route: the South Downs Way offers a picturesque hiking experience that takes you along the Seven Sisters and through the beautiful South Downs National Park.
Drive on to the Cotswolds, one of the most beautiful regions in England with beautiful old towns, hamlets, and villages. The Cotswolds area is located between Birmingham and London. Over the years, archaeological discoveries have been made in the region, indicating that it has been inhabited since ancient times. Most villages consist mainly of buildings from the late Middle Ages. The many beautiful churches in the small villages still hold a lot of history.
Spring Cottage - Burford
You can stay in Spring Cottage, an 18th-century house located in the idyllic market town of Burford on the edge of the Cotswolds. The house offers expansive views of the close by gardens and fields. The wooden beams, old pine floors, and a fireplace give the house a warm ambiance.
The Lamb Inn - Burford
A bit further down the same street as Spring Cottage, you can enjoy a delicious meal or a drink at The Lamb Inn. In 2021, this pub was named Pub of the Year by The Times. Despite this recognition, it's not a touristy spot. Let yourself be surprised by simple yet tasty dishes.
A very charming village in the Cotswolds is Stow-on-the-Wold. Every Thursday, this town comes to life with a bustling farmers' market. Local businessowners present and sell their self-made products, including handmade sheep's wool slippers and even makeup items.
The Porch House
What's particularly unique in Stow-on-the-Wold is 'The Porch House.' This inn was built in 975 AD and is known as England's oldest inn. In 2013, the inn was renovated, but many original features, such as the rustic stone walls and fireplaces, were preserved. Here, you can enjoy a traditional English pub experience.
Manor House – Castle Comble
If you want to truly immerse yourself in luxury, drive on to Castle Comble. At Manor House, you can book a delightful afternoon tea. It's not cheap, but it's a special and unforgettable experience. The location is breathtaking, and here you'll feel transported back in time. Enjoy savoury and sweet treats, such as chocolates, scones, and cakes.
What makes Manor House extra special is its commitment to sustainability. They don't use sugar in their dishes, and everything is pure and refined. They also aim for Zero Waste.
The New Inn – Cotswolds
For your final overnight stay, you can choose The New Inn. Here, you can enjoy a delicious meal in the hotel's pub, where the food is served on colourful plates. With a touch of French influence, you can enjoy a delightful last dinner of your trip.