Walking Vacations - Overnight Stops Near the South Downs

  • 01 of 07

    Where to Stay along on the South Downs Way -- Hotels Near the South Downs

    ••• The South Downs Way: Map of Great Britain, Showing Trail Location. Picture Credit: ©Ferne Arfin

    Make an overnight stop along South Downs Way  and turn an easy day out from London into a magical outdoor vacation.

    The route passes near dozens of historic, typically English towns and villages on its way from the Saxon capital of Winchester to the gleaming white cliffs near Eastbourne.

    Though it makes a good day trip, several days walking in the South Downs is truly rewarding. Local tourist authorities have lists of dozens of B&Bs along or near the route. But, for a real treat, stay in one of the country house inns or luxury hotels on or near the South Downs Way.

    Continue to 2 of 7 below.
  • 02 of 07

    Where to Stay in Winchester - England's Ancient Capital

    ••• Map of the South Downs Way. Picture Credit:©Ferne Arfin

    The South Downs Way takes off from Winchester, a Cathedral city also known as the Saxon capital of England. In its Great Hall, built by Alfred, a round table takes pride of place. It isn't really King Arthur's round table, but it is more then 650 years old so people like to imagine that it is.

    The ruins of Wolvesy Castle, next to the city's cathedral, show the one time wealth and status of the bishops of Winchester. The last known great occasion in this 12th century Norman keep turned bishop's palace was the marriage of Queen Mary to King Philip of Spain in 1554.

    Literary fans will enjoy visiting Jane Austen's house , about a half hour away on the A31. History buffs can visit Iron Age and Roman forts in the area.

    If you stay here try...

    • Hotel du Vin-Winchester, a cosy, 24-room, moderate priced boutique hotel. The hotel occupies an important Georgian building dating from 1715.
    • Lainston House is a restored William & Mary red brick manor house turned into a luxury...MORE hotel, set in 63 acres of rolling South Downs countryside. Individually decorated beds feature 4-posters and other luxury features.
    Continue to 3 of 7 below.
  • 03 of 07

    Where to Stay in Portsmouth -- Portsmouth Historic Home of the Royal Navy

    ••• Portsmouth's newest landmark, the 170-meter-tall Spinnaker Tower. Photo credit: ©Jerry Hardman-Jones, Courtesy of Portsmouth City Council

    Portsmouth,the historic home of the Royal Navy, is also within about 10 miles of parts of the South Downs Way. A visit here should include the narrow streets and ramparts of the historic old city and port as well as a climb up the town's stunning millennium project, the 170-meter-tall Spinnaker Tower.

    Portsmouth's 12 museums tell 800 years of history, from its beginnings as a Saxon fishing port to its eventual role as the home of one of the world's greatest seaborne fighting forces.

    As a naval town, most of the major budget and medium priced hotel chains, including Hilton, Marriott, Holiday Inn, and Express by Holiday Inn are well represented, particularly around the Gunwharf Quays shopping area. For something a little different and typically English...

    If you stay here, try...

    Fortitude Cottage-- a small house rebuilt after WWII on the site of a 16th century cottage. Almost beside the water, in the old port, close to several historic tall ships,including HMS Victory, Mary Rose...MORE and Warrior, this charming little B&B gives you a real sense of Portsmouth's 18th and 19th century heydays.

    Ask for the top floor double with its own private balcony and roof terrace for a 360 degree view historic Portsmouth - a charming room and very good value.

    And while you're here, visit a historic pub, The Ship Anson. In the beer garden,luckless, involuntary "recruits" once took the King's Shilling. By drinking a pint of beer with a shilling secreted in the bottom of their mug, they were "press ganged" into the Royal Navy.

    Continue to 4 of 7 below.
  • 04 of 07

    Where to Stay in Chichester - Cathedral City and The Prettiest Harbor in Britain

    ••• And they're off! Thoroughbred racing at Goodwood in Chichester. Horses pass the Sussex Stands during Glorious Goodwood one of the British racing season's top social events. Photo courtesy of Goodwood

    The historic Cathedral City of Chichester is a good place to take a break from a South Downs Way hike. But if you want to do a bit of walking, circumnavigate the old town on the Medieval Walls. It will take about an hour to stroll the 1.5 miles. The walls are built on Roman foundations going back to the third century. In the middle of it all, the 1,000 year old Chichester Cathedral is a must. After a visit to the Cathedral, stop by one of our favorite local pubs The Old Cross.

    Chichester is also home to the Chichester Festival Theatre and to Goodwood where, depending upon the season, you can sample thoroughbred racing, motor circuits and golf. Some say that Goodwood, on the grounds of the Goodwood Estate - home of the Dukes of Richmond for 300 years, is one of the prettiest racetracks in the world.

    Certainly the little boat haven of Bosham (pronounced Buzum)is one of the prettiest reaches of the lovely Chichester Harbour.

    If you stay here, try...

    • The Millstream Hotel in Bosham Harbour. A...MORE small, homey and very English hotel at the waters edge in a hamlet that, at high tide is virtually underwater. Storybook pretty, but careful where you park.
    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Where to Stay in Amberley and Arundel -- Stay in One Castle, Visit Another

    ••• Guests arrive by helicopter at Amberley Castle, a Luxury hotel near Arundel in the South Downs. Picture Courtesy of Amberley Castle

    Amberley, beside the River Arun's water meadows, and Arundel, on a hill above it, are classic English castle towns on the South Downs Way.

    Visit Arundel for its fantasy, 1,000-year-old, Norman castle, still home to the Duke of Norfolk, and its amazing 19th century Gothic Cathedral -- the view of both, from the distance, is truly like something out of a story book.

    Later, stay in a castle in Amberley, a tiny, mostly 16th century hamlet with picturesque thatched cottages -- look for a bird or a squirrel worked into the thatch near the chimney, a local tradition. Amberley Working Museum, in an abandoned chalk quarry, relates the local history of the industrial revolution.

    If you stay here, try...

    Amberley Castle , once home to the Bishops of Chichester. It has been twice voted one of the world's Top 20 Leisure Hotels by readers of Condé Nast Traveller Magazine. It is a real ancient keep and Bishop's Palace with luxurious, individually decorated, 4-poster rooms. You can even drop...MORE in by helicopter from London if you're not up to hiking the South Downs Way.

    Continue to 6 of 7 below.
  • 06 of 07

    Where to Stay in Brighton -- See the Royal Pavilion in this Regency Seaside Town

    ••• Brighton Pavilion. Photo courtesy of VisitBrighton

    Brighton has been a famous British seaside resort since the Prince Regent (later George IV) made it fashionable in the early 19th century. His palace, the Royal Pavilion, is Britain's most flamboyant and exotic landmark.

    Brighton is one of the liveliest, most sophisticated places near the South Downs, with very good restaurants, a charming antique-filled district called the Lanes, a traditional Victorian pier, varied nightlife and a well-established, affluent gay community.

    Brighton is only 60 minutes by train from London Victoria Station.

    If you stay here, try...

    • The Grand Hotel If the readers of the Daily and Sunday Telegraph are to be believed, this is one of Britain's most highly rated hotels, coming in third, behind only Gleneagles and the Savoy in a Best of British competition. Right on the seafront, this is also Brighton's only five star establishment.
    • Hotel Seattle This rather oddly named, moderately priced boutique hotel is on the Brighton Marina, with sea views and a...MORE slightly Asian theme -- Breakfast in bed arrives in laquered bento boxes.
    Continue to 7 of 7 below.
  • 07 of 07

    Where to Stay in Eastbourne -- Seaside Eastbourne on England's White Cliffs

    ••• The Grand Hotel, Eastbourne. Photo courtesy of The Grand Hotel, Eastbourne

    Eastbourne is probably the most sedate of England's South Coast seaside resorts. It's famous for its beaches -- which include a few of the only sandy beaches on the south coast -- and for its gleaming white, Victorian and Edwardian architecture.

    If you walk the South Downs Way as far as the Eastbourne loop, you'll see the Seven Sisters -- a series of white chalk cliffs -- and Beachy Head itself, a dramatic and rugged chalk cliff and occasionally notorious suicide spot. The atmospheric Falling Sands Beach at the foot of Beachy Head is backed by towering white cliffs.

    Eastbourne also has a restored Victorian Pier and a picturesque, blue domed bandstand with a regular summer schedule of free concerts. The bandstand is dedicated to an Eastbourne musician who played on the deck of the sinking Titanic.

    If you stay here, try...

    The supremely imperiousGrand Hotel. A restored, five-star, 19th century hotel, sometimes known as 'The White Palace', it dominates the Eastbourne shore...MORE and is the way to take the air in this great dowager of a resort. A classic, rambling white elephant of a hotel recently updated with what the Brits call all mod cons.