Where To Take Her: The White Horse, Chilgrove

Insider recommendations for your next weekend away

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The Place:

The White Horse in Chilgrove, West Sussex. A classic English country pub and former village local in the heart of the South Downs which now offers up 15 stylishly decked out rooms and a restaurant that puts simple and locally-sourced British food first.

The Angle:

This is no typical B&B, more a restaurant with rooms that marries classic country with contemporary touches – sheepskin rugs and four-poster beds alongside vitra chairs and trendy lighting. It can be a tricky style to get right but here it’s done very well, particularly in the restaurant area or mirror room, where a traditional pub dining area has been cleverly transformed into something a lot more luxurious while retaining that original atmosphere. There’s also a brilliant showpiece private dining room for big occasions.

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What To Order:

The food deserves it too. Head chef Rob Armstrong likes to keep things simple. No foams, fussiness or over-presented spots of sauce here. Just damn good dishes that you'll find yourself hard-pressed to choose between. Our pick? Keep your eye on the fish specials sourced from just down the road in Chichester.

What To Do:

If it’s a total escape from London that you’re after, without driving hundreds of miles, you can’t really do much better than this part of West Sussex/Hampshire borders. The pub has maps for a brilliant circular walk on the South Downs that takes you from the pub’s front door and back again in an 8 mile tour. For the less energetic, there’s the antique shops of Petworth not far away which could keep your girlfriend sweet for an afternoon, while Chichester, Goodwood and the option of clay-pigeon shooting (ask the hotel when booking) should keep you occupied.

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Esquire Recommends:

If you can, get a booth table at the restaurant for a spot that feels cosy and intimate without losing any of the restaurant buzz. All rooms have private courtyards but there are two ‘Stag’ rooms with one important addition – a hot tub. Surely worth the extra £50, whatever time of year.

The Damage:

With rates starting at £150 for a standard double, The White Horse is bridging that price gap between B&B and country house hotel. The food and wine menu represent very good value for hitting a level some way above solid pub dishes.

The Payoff:

Book this as a weekend away now and you can confidently say to your other half: "I know this little place...". Just do it before everyone else finds out.

The White Horse, Chilgrove, 1 High St, Chichester PO18 9HX, thewhitehorse.co.uk/