Gravetye Manor is just 30 minutes from London in the Sussex countryside, but it couldn’t be further from it. Clouds, sun and birdsong fill the sky without a hint of city invasion.

Set among 1,000 acres of forest, lakes and fields, it feels as off-the-grid as it gets. The name is pronounced “grave tie” rather than “gravity”, giving the impression that it’s part of a superhero origin story. However, you could be forgiven for feeling that the house is billionaire Bruce Wayne’s British hideaway.

Why stay here

Originally built in 1598 by Master Richard Infield, renowned gardener William Robinson purchased the property in 1884 and lived there until his death in 1935, during which time he created one of the most famous gardens in the world; a huge, walled garden (which now houses a restaurant) with everything from unusual herbs to medicinal plants and fruits and berries. Flower gardens, meadows, orchards and unusual semi-wild gardens with tall plants and otherworldly flowers shoot in all directions spread out around the manor. A forest nursery is being conducted. Garden tours are booked years in advance, but guests can explore at their leisure. Robinson also commissioned the architect Ernest George to build a new wing of the house that fully matches the style of the original parts.

Gravetye allows guests to live the homestead life from the moment you arrive; wind your way up the mile-long road to be greeted by a stunning stone manor house topped with spider-creeping red ivy – it’s hard not to feel like you’re on a film set. The valets will guide you to the parking area and bring you up to the stunning columned entrance. Pause and take a breath – the aroma of wood smoke from the huge fireplace sets the tone for the entire evening and couldn’t be more welcome on a rainy October day. Luxurious, rich velvet armchairs and a thick carpet combine with dark wood paneled walls.

The hotel has 18 rooms and suites

Rooms and apartments

Up the wood-panelled central staircase, the hotel becomes something of a Latina. You will follow winding corridors to find your private retreat. The 18 rooms and suites at Gravetye live up to the estate’s moniker. They are generously sized with king size beds covered in beautiful oak pattern bedspreads; bright stone and iron windows look out over hills with incredible flora that reach for the sky. Large bathrooms with large tubs and walk-in showers that can accommodate a party. The toiletries are luxurious and have lots of very British scents. Well-stocked mini-bars complement, and for those so inclined, there’s a bottle of gin on hand.

The Gravetye Manor restaurant has a Michelin star

Eat and drink

The hotel’s dining room is a new extension designed by architect Charles Knowles and built from the outside of the original manor house – one of the interior walls of the dining room is an exterior wall of the original building, creating a nice transition from old to new. Two walls facing the garden have floor-to-ceiling windows that flood the dining room with natural light and a spectacular view of the wild garden that steps down to meet it.

The tapestries, painted by Claire Basler, continue the juxtaposition of old and new, interior and exterior, with vibrant images of local flora; this continues to the tables themselves with hand-painted chargers, each one unique.

The restaurant gathered a Michelin star under the direction of Chef George Blogg. The food is both delicate and bold, understated and intelligent, with thoughtfully sourced ingredients paired with those harvested from their bountiful garden. The menu consists of four courses (no grueling tasting menus here) with a wide range of ingredients, but without falling into the common pitfalls of prime cuts (indeed, on our visit, the beef’s easy victory was conspicuous only by its absence).

The food here is playful – your meal starts with six small knobs of flavored butter and a basket of Parisian-quality bread. Sauces are poured tableside (roast chicken gravy was a favourite) and there are plenty of top-notch ingredients used wisely – the caviar and potato dish included a heaping helping of the butteriest mash topped with a big spoonful of caviar next to the calamari- inked pommes boulangere – all black, white and cream. This is sophisticated cooking, and even though there are a million things going on in the kitchen, it feels light and casual.

Pudding deserves an honorable mention here – a raspberry soufflé cut from the top at your table, a thick, tart raspberry coulis poured over to give the devoted pudding-winner a reason to sink his spoon to the very bottom. A roll of roasted almond ice cream, a worthy companion. The bright, young sommelier will pair wonderful wines with whatever you choose.

A short walk of around 30 minutes around Gravetye brings you to The Cat Inn, a lovely pub that you wish you were a local – we immediately started looking at property prices nearby. A roaring fire, a warm welcome, cold beer, a good wine list (at good prices) and an inventive, playful menu is a recipe for success. Friendly dogs only add to the charm. Book ahead – it was sardines on our visit.

Take a walk around the hotel

What to do

There are things to do (or not to do) in the estate itself; wander the grounds, read by the fire, sip champagne or cleverly crafted cocktails in the cozy bar or outside, weather permitting. There are some lovely walks, including to local vineyards and the Cat Inn mentioned above (climate changes make the area a very wine-friendly environment).

A 20-minute drive away is the Insta-worthy Ouse Viaduct, built to carry the London-Brighton railway line over the River Ouse – considered one of the UK’s most stunning viaducts, if you’re into that.

For something a little more historic, the National Trust-owned Standen House and Gardens is a short drive away. The home of the Arts & Crafts movement features Morris & Co. interiors. Close by is Wakehurst, Kew Gardens with over 500 acres of varied gardens and the Millenium Seed Bank.

Gravetye Manor, Vowels Lane, East Grinstead, RH19 4LJ. Rooms start from £620 bed and breakfast;