Our top places to visit in Surrey and West Sussex
Thinking of visiting our showroom? Why not make a day – or a stay – of it?
We're in Alfold, a convenient and scenic location within easy reach of the vibrant market towns of Guildford, Horsham and Petworth and a short hop from Cranleigh, the largest village in England. And who better to give you top recommendations than our LRI team, who all live locally and know the area well...
Alfold itself is a pretty village with plenty of wooded countryside to meander through as well as the Wey & Arun Canal. The name comes from the words ‘old fold’ meaning a clearing or area for cattle grazing. It was part of the Wealden forest before being cleared for the cultivation of plants and animals.
At the centre of the village, the Church of St Nicholas is thought to date back to 1100. Next to the church are the village stocks, recently renovated and, according to English Heritage, an example of one of the oldest stocks remaining in the country.
The nearest pub to our showroom in Alfold is the Sir Roger Tichborne, a traditional oak-beamed Victorian building set in expansive gardens amid fields of grazing cows with views over the open countryside. It’s a popular family-owned pub with good food and down-to-earth service and is well worth a visit.
Guildford's cobbled high street. Picture: Instagram (@experiencegford)
Guildford is only about a 15-20 minute drive along the A281 and it’s usually relatively easy to park and wander up the historic cobbled high street.
This attractive old market town has a ruined castle with beautiful gardens in the town centre and the River Wey running along the bottom end of the high street. The old Debenhams is a bit of an eyesore but redevelopment beckons, which should bring some much-needed rejuvenation to this end of town.
The town centre has lost some big retail names recently, with the likes of H&M, Gap, Debenhams, New Look, Topshop, Next and French Connection leaving premises vacant – but there are still plenty of independent, (mostly) upmarket chains and high-end boutiques to draw in shoppers.
There’s even a Le Creuset store in the high street dedicated to the cast iron French cookware, which speaks volumes about the local Surrey stockbroker belt clientele.
There are numerous restaurants and cafes dotted about the town, so no shortage of places to eat or drink! We can recommend the March Hare, a White brasserie in South Hill, next to the castle. It serves seasonal fare with a French twist, has a convivial atmosphere and good service and food. It’s set over two levels with a comfortable bar area and a lovely conservatory at the back.
If you don’t overindulge – or perhaps BEFORE lunch, a steep walk up Pewley Hill opposite the March Hare, past the Semaphore Tower on the left, will take you straight onto a path to Pewley Down. Walk along the ridge of the hill for gorgeous views of the North Downs across to the villages of Chilworth and Albury.
For lovers of Italian food, Olivo in Quarry Street is always busy and excellent, while tucked away at the top end of town in Bakers Yard, family-run Shardana has some first-rate homemade pasta dishes and probably the best pizzas in town. The same family runs Blue Sardinia in Sydenham Road, which specialises in contemporary and traditional Sardinian cuisine.
For panoramic views across Guildford and the castle, head for Thai Terrace which has a huge menu of favourites from the Far East, or the spot for the ladies who lunch … The Ivy. The Thai Terrace is on the 7th floor of the Castle car park, while the Ivy Castle View is above the Tunsgate shopping centre just off the high street.
A view of Church Street, Godalming, with its historic buildings. Picture: Instagram (@wattleanddaubhome)
Godalming is another an ancient market and coaching town, smaller than Guildford, also on the River Wey and about 20 minutes or so by car from Alfold. Its quaint high street boasts an array of the usual high street chains but also some independent shops worth exploring.
Café Mila in Angel Court, off the high street is well worth a stop for coffee, lunch or afternoon tea and cake. A vegetarian restaurant café with healthy menu options, it also operates a yoga studio upstairs. Their delicious bakes are made using fresh natural ingredients and unrefined sugar … so you can feel a little less guilty!
There aren’t many independent restaurants in Godalming town centre… but everyone raves about Acorn in Wharf Street, which serves Spanish tapas and Mediterranean food. Among the chains is Cote, where you pretty much know what to expect.
A good bet is on the Brighton Road in the village of Hascombe, where the White Horse pub is situated just off the road overlooking fields and gentle hills.
An early evening drink here watching the sun go down on a summer’s evening is a perfect way to the end the day! This popular pub attracts locals as well as visitors to the area, being very well-kept, efficiently run and serving fantastic food, either in the more relaxed saloon bar or in the dining room where the head chef serves up award-winning seasonal and locally sourced fare.
If you do decide to take a trip Hascombe way, the National Trust’s Winkworth Arboretum is just up the road – where you can see over 1,000 different species of trees and shrubs – many of them rare. The trails and paths meander amid lakes and meadows and if you enjoy a walk, it’s a very pleasant way of whiling away a morning or afternoon.
If you enjoy walking, head for Hascombe Hill. The site of an iron-age hill fort, it has spectacular views all the way around and the ancient woodland is beautiful.
Just down the road, Dunsfold is a charming village, spread out along the green and common with a traditional country pub, the Sun Inn, post office and store, cricket ground and a couple of ponds where swans nest every year.
The next village along, Chiddingfold, is one of Surrey’s prettiest. It has a postcard-perfect selection of period properties around its village green, the splendid 14th-century Crown Inn on the corner, a duck pond and Grade I listed St Mary’s Church. The Crown has a coveted AA five-star rating, blending contemporary sophistication and olde worlde charm with real panache.
Market Square in Horsham. Picture: Instagram (@visithorsham)
Horsham's a good shopping destination, with plenty of restaurants, an elegant Art Deco-style Everyman cinema and Horsham Museum and Art Gallery, which is due to open again soon after being closed for refurbishment. It's an easy drive via the A281 and usually takes around 25 minutes from Alfold.
There's also Horsham Park, which is a real green haven and beautifully kept with flowerbeds and a lake – and there’s plenty to keep energetic kids occupied. There’s a café/restaurant called Kaya with a beautiful orangery and interior.
This bustling market town still enjoys thriving markets, which on Saturdays include local produce and arts and crafts. On Thursdays there are usually street food stalls, and we’ve sampled some fantastic French crepes, among other things!
There’s a Michelin-starred restaurant in Horsham – in East Street – called Tristan, which is in a small 16th-century building and serves modern British food with a French twist.
Historic Arundel Castle. Picture: Instagram (@arundelcastleuk; @visualair)
Arundel is a lovely historic town with beautiful listed buildings, a castle and cathedral. It takes around 35 minutes to drive there from Alfold.
The castle is around 1,000 years old and many of its original features, such as the Norman keep and medieval gatehouse, survive. Its gardens are beautiful and there are lots of events going on there throughout the year, such as the famous tulip festival.
There’s a large boating lake next to the castle grounds, where you can hire a rowing boat, buy food for the ducks and enjoy refreshments at the café. There are also some lovely walks from the lake in the surrounding countryside.
The town of Arundel has plenty of interesting antique shops and independent shops. We like Dinky Donky Delights in Tarrant Street, where you can find lots of quirky and individual gifts and upcycled homewares and items of furniture – a real treasure trove.
There are also lots of lovely boutiques and clothing shops, an old-fashioned sweetshop and for ice creams, shakes and pancakes with a modern, funky vibe – try out The Parlour in Tarrant Square.
Also in Tarrant Street, we can highly recommend Butlers restaurant… the interiors are lovely and we always enjoy eating there.
Petworth House and park. Picture: Instagram (@petworthnt; National Trust Images/Andrew Butler
Petworth, about a 20-minute drive from our showroom, is another picturesque Sussex town, renowned for its antique shops and the beautiful Petworth House, a Grade I listed 17th century mansion, and 700-acre Petworth Park, which has a large herd of fallow deer.
Again there are plenty of antique shops for browsing. There’s also an amazing food shop called The Hungry Guest, in Middle Street, where artisan breads and pastries are made fresh every day in the bakery, while jams, chutneys, sauces, dips and ready meals are prepared using ingredients from local West Sussex producers. There’s even a dedicated cheese room with a huge selection of the finest cheeses from Sussex and beyond.
Coco Café and Sugar Lounge in Saddlers Row is a great place for coffee, cakes or lunch. Just a little way from Petworth in the village of Tillington, the Horse Guards Inn is a lovely country pub, especially in the summer, when you can sit in the vintage-style garden among hay bales and watch the free-range chickens roaming about.
On the outskirts of Petworth, The Welldiggers Arms is another gem – 300 years old with views over the South Downs National Park, it’s a gastropub serving British fare based on locally sourced ingredients. It also has 14 smart dog-friendly en-suite rooms decorated in cosy cottage style.
Chichester Cathedral. Picture: Instagram; @chiccathedral
Chichester is great place to visit. There are lots of lovely shops and restaurants to mooch around, lanes of Georgian buildings to explore, an impressive cathedral and the Festival Theatre, which hosts some of the top London shows.
Nearby Goodwood has probably one of the most beautiful racecourses in the country, set in the beautiful South Downs with amazing views. Goodwood is also the home to the Festival of Speed – an annual motor racing event and the Goodwood Revival where vintage cars race around the track and the meeting is staged entirely in period dress.
There is a fantastic hotel and spa on the Goodwood Estate where you can unwind and relax.
Another favourite place is The Boat House at Chichester Marina – looking out over the boats and the estuary. It serves great breakfasts, lunches and dinners and is a good starting point if you want to walk along the estuary to Dell Quay and another excellent pub, the Crown and Anchor, with its amazing sunset views over the sea.
Another top place on the way to Chichester is the Tinwood Estate, a vineyard which runs fabulous tours and all-important wine tastings! You can even stay here in one of three luxury lodges, so you can sample all the wines you like without having to worry about how you get home!
West Wittering and surrounding areas
West Wittering beach. Picture: Instagram (@amandaroseking)
The beach at Wittering is wonderful – it has a vast expanse of sand at East Head with amazing walks and beautiful sand dunes.
There is a lovely coffee shop on the Wittering Estate where you can grab lunch and an ice cream in summer or warm yourself by the log burner in winter.
If you walk along the beach to East Wittering, try the Drift In for lunch – it's a surf- inspired cafe that serves delicious food. There are lots more cafes and shops to mooch around in East Wittering. Billy's on the Beach is another great place to head for lunch as it's right on the beach at Bracklesham Bay, and has live music nights during the summer.
Cranleigh cricket green. Picture: Instagram (@rarasix282)
Cranleigh, just a 10-minute drive from Alfold, is England's largest village. It has an attractive green/cricket ground and some lovely cafes and shops.
One 40 is among the nicest – a stylish fashion and homeware haven selling lots of lovely pieces. There's also a great cafe serving an excellent selection of home cooked food.
Next door, there's a recently opened women's boutique called My Best Friend's Wardrobe which is worth a browse.
The Richard Onslow pub in the High Street has a loyal local following and serves hearty portions of traditional British fare. The steak burgers are excellent as are the haddock and chips. It also has 10 boutique bedrooms.
Just down the road, Notcutts garden centre is a popular destination for gardening enthusiasts. It also has a large pet section with a fishpond and a cafe with tables outside during the summer.