Contributor/ Saffron Powell Brown
Best Known For
The Bell Inn is a quirky old coaching inn, with rooms, in the sleepy village of Ticehurst on the outskirts of Tunbridge Wells. Popular for weddings but great for ordinary folk too.
The Good Stuff
This gorgeous and quirky pub has been so thoughtfully refurbished, adding four lodges within their own garden to the existing portfolio of seven rooms – each with their own silver birch tree. Yes, there really are trees in the bedrooms. Breakfast is included in the price, often a rarity, and the food is lovely, my husband and I tested their cooking under the toughest conditions – Christmas day lunch. This is not a favourite meal of mine, a tad boring but The Bell served me the best of my life, with a delicious rich and robust gravy washed down with some Old Man ale. The rooms have everything you need and more, fresh scones from the Lighthouse bakery next door, tea and coffee, an iron and ironing board, a good mattress and wifi. I never sleep well, especially in unfamiliar rooms but I was in a lovely deep slumber until morning. We’ve decided that if we somehow become rich in five years time, we’ll book the lodges for the family at Christmas, here’s hoping!
If a visitor to Britain had to stay anywhere for the night for a real taste of England, they should come here, for it is bursting with eccentric touches and makes you feel cosy as soon as you walk in. A roaring fire with armchairs awaits, pillars made of a spiralling pile of books, quotes scrawled on walls, staff dressed like they’ve just walked out of a Dickens novel. If you like unusual toilets you’d love this place, in the gents the urinals are French horns. Whenever I told someone we were coming to stay here, most people had heard of it and were full of praise. I can see why, it appears to be effortlessly good at what it does, it’s very rare that I find it hard to fault somewhere. They had even made little hearts in the lead flashing on the staircase outside the Love Nest, so many little details everywhere.
Inside the hotel – 9/10
We decided to take a rare break over Christmas and escape for a night away in the new Love Nest lodge, the guilt of deserting our families soon lifted upon seeing our room. Set behind the pub in a cluster of hobbit-like houses lay the Love Nest, it actually looks like a nest from the outside, inside is a large circular room with a skylight above the bed, sheepskin rugs, a copper bath next to a wood burner, cute ‘Love and More’ toiletries, a giant Samsung TV, the list goes on. Unfortunately the bath had a pesky habit of emptying itself whilst bathing but I am sure that will be fixed. For me, a hotel room should always be better than your own house, our lodge certainly was. As soon as I got inside I was dreading leaving and wished we’d booked two nights. Amongst all the mod cons were little quirky touches. Like a slightly scary looking doll perched on the headboard alongside some scattered books, a retro rotary dual telephone, cuckoo clocks dotted along the walls, the occasional painted cloud, even a splash of taxidermy with some little chicks in birdhouses. Back outside there’s a fire-pit that wasn’t lit on our visit, lucky we didn’t buy those giant marshmallows we had our eye on. You can climb stairs that take you onto the roof of the lodge to look at the stars, and in the summer perhaps catch some rays.
Outside the hotel – 5.5/10
It being Boxing Day not much nearby was open and it is a quiet village at the best of times. But you can jump in the car and be in the lovely village of Rye in thirty minutes.
Images courtesy of The Bell apart from pictures of the Love Nest.