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The Royal Oak, East Lavant, West Sussex

The Royal Oak, East Lavant, West Sussex

After a day of windswept walking on West Wittering beach, idle perusing of the craft centre at the seaside hamlet of Bosham and a gentle stroll around Chichester cathedral, The Royal Oak in East Lavant, with its low-beamed ceiling and exposed brick walls, offered a welcoming pint, a warming fire and an enormous bed.
Described as a restaurant with accommodation, The Royal Oak combines the Georgian elegance of the original inn with newly converted en-suite rooms, which have state-of-the-art plasma screen televisions and CD/radio systems. But the period character of the building is not overshadowed by such modern luxuries and the rooms
are stylish, with restful colours, and quilts so large you could get lost under them. Our room was in the main building - there are three rooms above the pub and three around a small courtyard at the back (two are converted barns and one is The Flint Cottage, which sleeps four).
We wound our way down the wrought-iron outdoor stairwell, lined with flower pots, to a restaurant bustling with diners already tucking in and people enjoying a leisurely pre-dinner drink at the bar. Owner Nick Sutherland runs a pub that people visit for the food, which is simply outstanding: juicy, fresh, local scallops with a lemon risotto to start, tender Welsh lamb cooked pink and a homemade rhubarb crumble for pudding. I was glad it was only a short walk back to my bed.
The next day breakfast was served in the new extension, where light floods in through French windows. After scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, freshly brewed
coffee and a browse through the papers, I felt ready for some culture and headed to nearby Goodwood to an antiques fair. The Royal Oak is a great base for exploring
the coast and the South Downs. If only it were my local.

The Royal Oak, East Lavant, Chichester, West Sussex (01243 527434). From £95 per double room, en suite, including breakfast. Three-course dinner from £30.


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