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The Star (Alfriston, East Sussex)

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Address: High Street / Alfriston / East Sussex BN26 5T

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      08.03.2012 18:43
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      We all enjoyed our stay

      ***THE STAR, ALFRISTON, SUSSEX*** **WEEKENDERS COME TO THE VILLAGE** My husband and I decided to have a weekend away in Sussex. We chose Sussex because my son's fiancée is from East Sussex and we thought (as she lives with us at the moment) that she, and our son, could come along and we could see something of her parents. It's really nice that her parents have become our friends. When discussing where exactly to go In Sussex, my son mentioned Alfriston a village he had been to whilst staying in Sussex. I had a look on the internet to see if I fancied this; it looked good to me and so I had a further look online to search for suitable places to stay in this village. **THE STAR** There were several places to stay in Alfriston but The Star was the one that appealed the most to me. I thought at first it seemed a little on the expensive side but on having a good look on the website, I saw that there was an offer for rooms in March for £59 for a room or £79 with bed and breakfast included (for two). My son assured me that Alfriston was a small village and anything we wanted to see would only be a short walk from The Star. This seemed ideal for a short break. **HISTORIC STAR** The Star was built in the thirteenth century (1260s) and this can be seen from its style of building which is half-timber framed. Inside the old part shows off its oak beams and stone floors. Taken from the hotel's website: "The Star at Alfriston is reputed to be one of the country's oldest inns. Built in the 13th century, it has served as a hostelry to pilgrims, smugglers and even royalty. Known as 'The Star of Bethlehem' until at least 1520, the hotel was then run by the monks of Battle Abbey and offered shelter to friars and pilgrims on their way to the Shrine of St Richard at Chichester. Considered at that time to be a Holy House, a wooden 'Sanctuary Post' gave fugitives, and very probably smugglers, instant church protection. The Post can still be seen in the bar today, its powers of sanctuary, however, are long past. At the front of the building stands a lion figurehead, thought to be from a Dutch warship, which sank in the English Channel. It is believed that the lion was washed ashore in Cuckmere Haven and then brought into Alfriston by a gang of well-known local smugglers. The figurehead was restored in 2003 by the local rector and re-positioned on the opposite corner of the hotel for its own protection!" Around the hotel can be seen nooks and crannies with several places to be seated. I must stress that although only part of the hotel is thirteenth century the character seems to carry through into the much more modern part of the hotel. **BOOKING** I could have booked online but I prefer to book by telephone. I find that most hotels and inns will sometimes further discount their rooms if they have availability. Also, I sometimes have a question or two to ask, which can be most easily answered over the phone. And it seems to me that as one of the first members of staff that one comes across when staying at a hotel their receptionist should be efficient and polite. If these criteria weren't filled when speaking on the phone I would be put off staying. But in this case I found (Ali Carter) the lady I spoke to was polite, helpful and friendly. And so my first impressions were good, before we had even arrived. I requested two double rooms and I think we had the last two available. I asked if the rooms could be further discounted and the price was slightly reduced. I had to pay the agreed price on booking as this was an offer price. I did this by debit card. I was asked to supply an Email address so that my booking could be confirmed straight away. I did this and Ali said that she looked forward to seeing us at the weekend. I received my confirmation email and all details were correct. I then realised that I hadn't mentioned that two of us were vegetarians. I emailed back with this information. I had a further reply saying that this had been noted and their chef would be informed. **RECEPTION/STAFF** On arriving at the hotel we parked in the hotel car park (to the side of the hotel-Star Lane) and we then walked through the hotel to reception. I was surprised at the layout of the hotel and thought it larger than I had expected. From the front The Star appears as if it consists of a rather small olde worlde pub with a small block of more modern rooms next to it. But when the hotel is accessed from the side (from the Star Lane entrance) it is modern and airy and larger than it seemed (to me) at first. A short walk along an airy corridor brought us to the reception desk. I had expected the newer block of rooms to be separate from the older building and thought we would have to enter our rooms from the car park but I was pleasantly surprised that the old part and new part of this hotel were merged and, in my opinion, this has been done to very good effect. I had thought the newer rooms would have perhaps felt like second best but this just wasn't the case as everything blended so well. We were asked to give details of our car registration and informed that breakfast (between 8-10 a.m.) was to be in the lounge and bar area rather than the restaurant as a wedding open day was to be held in the hotel the following morning (I had already been informed of the fact that an event was being held this weekend). Part of the restaurant was in the process of being set up to display a wedding breakfast. We were given our room keys, along with directions. It was simple; back along the corridor and up a few carpeted steps. **ROOMS** The hotel has thirty-seven rooms, two of them are single. Some rooms are inter-connecting. I was very pleased with our rooms. I thought they looked considerably better than they had when viewed on the internet. Our room was mainly blue. The room had two windows with attractive blue curtains and pelmets. Our bed had a white duvet cover and four matching pillows with blue cushions placed on top. The bed had a soft mattress but I found it comfortable and slept better than I usually do. The only problem with the bed was when sitting up and leaning against the headboard (whilst reading in bed) my husband realised he was losing his pillows. And then mine started to disappear too! We saw the funny side of the bed moving (only slowly) a little away from the wall. I would think it would be better if the duvets in hotels were made from synthetic fibres rather than feather as some people have allergies to feathers or down. I don't have this problem but my future daughter- in- law does. Our room had a double wardrobe with plenty of hangers inside. This robe also had shelves and full length mirror on the inside of one door-a nice touch, I thought. The wardrobe was also home to a decent steam iron with its water container, extra blankets, a trouser press and ironing board. The room had a chest of drawers, dressing table with drawer, and two bedside tables, with a drawer and storage space in each. One table had a telephone on it. Both bedside tables had a reading lamp on them. There was a further lamp on the dressing table and a standard lamp in the corner of the room. There was an attractive light fitment on the ceiling. But, even with all these lights the room was a little dim in the evening which made it difficult to apply make-up. I find this is usual in most hotels. A hair dryer was on the dressing table; the usual type which you have to keep the switch pressed in for it to work. An upholstered chair was provided to use at the dressing table/desk. There was also a table and an armchair. A small table by the door held the hospitality tray with biscuits, tea, coffee, sugar, milk and sweeteners plus kettle and, another nice touch, a teapot. The room had a controllable radiator under the window. The en suite was small but adequate-over bath shower, heated towel rail, shaver point, rubber bath mat, towelling bath mat and towels. Toiletries supplied were shampoo, body wash and soap. Our son's room was different in colour and a slightly smaller room but bigger bathroom. However, both rooms were of a good size, Our friends had decided to stay for Saturday night so we could enjoy a meal and a drink together. They had a twin room and I went along to look in my persona of reviewing spy! It was, again, slightly different to ours but with attractive runners on the beds and two armchairs. The bathroom was larger than in our room. All rooms are furnished very similarly with dark wood furniture and similar soft furnishings. **CREAKY FLOORS IN OLD ROOMS BUT ANY OTHER STRANGE NOISES?** Low level Noise could be heard in the corridors at times, only what would be expected, such as a child crying, but I didn't hear anything when I was in my room apart from my husband's snoring. I understand the newer section of the hotel may be quieter than the old. As this hotel accepts dogs I thought there might be an occasional bark or two but although I saw (and spoke!) to a couple of dogs in the hotel, I never heard one solitary woof! Obviously the doggy guests staying here are better behaved than my Westie, who I left at home. **ROSE GARDEN** I had looked at images of this hotel prior to visiting and had seen a photo of the rose garden. I was pleasantly surprised when at the hotel and going into this area as it looked better and larger than I had expected. It looked attractive but I would think that to get the most from this a summer visit would be necessary when the roses are in full bloom and therefore full glory. I would think the pergola with roses trained around it would be very pretty indeed. **STAR PRICES** Prices vary as the room type varies, but all rooms seem to be of a good standard. I saw a total of six rooms whilst here (I had a nose whilst the wedding open day was on and some rooms were then on display). All rooms are en-suite and prices vary to the time of year but an idea to pricing is as follows: For March Standard double/twin room £59 Standard double/twin room with breakfast £79 Standard double/twin room with breakfast and evening meal £125 For August (4/8/12-5/8/12) with breakfast included Standard single room £85 Standard twin room £120 Standard double room £120 **WEBSITE** For more information on The Star, Alriston see its comprehensive website: http://www.thestaralfriston.co.uk **BAR/LOUNGE** The bar is quaint and cosy, very olde English. There are several tables and chairs dotted around; some sofa type chairs and some straight back chairs, some are cushioned. A large coal fire with swinging grate looked very welcoming indeed. Down one step and a further comfortable seating area is available. **CAPELLA RESTAURANT** We had dinner here. We hadn't booked and were quite late dining here but were made welcome. A table for six was prepared for us and very nicely too. I couldn't d fault the look of the place with crisp white linen on the tables and gleaming glassware. The menu was quite good and there were a few vegetarian choices which looked interesting. I wouldn't say it was cheap but then we weren't expecting or looking for cheap here, just a nice meal in nice surroundings. Service was attentive and polite. A couple of our first choices weren't available but then we were a little on the late side so expected this. We all chose to have two courses which was either starters and a main or a main and dessert. This was an offer price of £18.95 each. Among our choices of starters were tomato and basil soup, smoked chicken and hock of ham. I can say that I thought my choice of soup was a good one. The mains we chose were: grilled cod with bubble and squeak, mushroom risotto, lamb cutlets. Two in our party chose desserts. I thought the food was well cooked and attractively served (definitely restaurant fayre and not pub grub!) but we all agreed that the portions weren't large. I would say the meal was enjoyable but when I dine here again I'll remember to order a side dish. I think we rushed our choices a little as we were running late. For drinks over the course of our meal we ordered a bottle of house red wine (enjoyable), a few pints of lager and bitter, and a couple of soft drinks. We also asked for water which was served in a glass jug with plenty of ice. The meal came to £151 for six people and service was included. **BREAKFAST-COMPLIMENTS TO THE CHEF** Tables were nicely laid in the bar and lounge area. We had a large table by the window. Coffee and tea were brought to us. Breakfast was buffet in style. I had mentioned that two of us were vegetarian twice and was assured that there would be option for us, such as vegetarian sausages. But there weren't any waiting. I mentioned this and was told by the waitress that there weren't any. A few minutes later she returned to say that she had been informed that actually they were available. The veggie sausages were soon cooked for us. We chose among various items such as fruit juices, yoghurt, cereals and fresh fruit. We ate his and drank tea or coffee. Soon the vegetarian sausage appeared and we chose from the hot breakfast of bacon, sausages, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, baked beans and fried eggs. Kippers and boiled eggs were cooked on request. We did have to wait for a while for eggs but I feel because of the wedding open day and food being served differently to usual, the challenges on staff probably slowed things down a little. I will say that the food was delicious and taking into account what was available it was very good value. We all seemed to agree on this. Service was polite and pleasant. **CAR PARKING** Free car parking is available in the hotels car park but it is not guaranteed that a space will be available. We had no trouble parking; there were plenty of spaces and the hotel was nearly full. Car registration had to be given to reception when checking in. **DISABLED ACCESS** I asked staff about disabled access as, with these olde English buildings, floors can be uneven and there are steps to be found here and there which can be awkward, especially for wheelchair users. I was told that disabled guests are offered ground floor rooms with level access and ramps are used for wheelchairs to gain entry into the bar area or wherever necessary. **TOILETS** These looked clean and well equipped. There were three cubicles in the ladies toilets. ** WHERE IS THE STAR?** The Star is located in Alfriston which is a small quaint East Sussex village, by the South Downs. The area is one of local beauty and popular with walkers. Also in its favour is the fact that the village is within easy reach of Brighton and Eastbourne. There are nearby sights to see and places to visit as well as there being quaint shops, pubs and historical places to see in Alfriston. We travelled from Essex and travelled from the M25 and A26, A27 and A22. Polgate station is three and a half miles from The Star. 3.5 miles away, or 10 minutes by car. Mainline trains run from London Victoria to Polgate. **CANINE GUESTS** Dogs are welcome in the hotel and, as the area is popular with walkers and their canine companions, I suppose from the hotel's point of view this makes sense. I don't take my dog away with me; he doesn't travel well and I prefer a dog free break for myself, in all honesty, but then I am fortunate that my eldest son is always willing to provide pet care. I would think for many dog owners it can be difficult to find accommodation that accepts their canine friends so this will be a bonus for them. Taken from the hotel's website: "Pet Friendly Accommodation As a traditionally leisure based hotel, we welcome pets treating their owners for a short break and experience the newly designated South Downs National Park. As a pet friendly hotel in East Sussex, we of course offer details on a number of local walks for a leisurely stroll or a full on hike! For your comfort we have put together a pet package * Pet Blanket * Towel * Water Bowl * Treat with a welcome note * Dog in the Room Sign!" The cost for dogs is £7.50 per night. **CONTACT THE STAR:** Address: High Street Alfriston East Sussex BN26 5TA Tel: +44 (0)1323 870 495 Fax: +44 (0)1323 870 922 **WOULD I RETURN?** Yes, I would definitely like to return and expect that I will. I could happily spend two or three nights in The Star and would enjoy more time to explore the surrounding area.

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