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Hotel review: Inside the East Sussex pub with rooms renovated by Hotel Inspector Alex Polizzi

‘I needed to prove to myself that I can still do it,’ says Alex Polizzi, who, after a decade telling hapless hoteliers how to up their game in Channel 5’s The Hotel Inspector, is putting the finishing touches to her new project.

‘And,’ she adds, ‘it was a chance to do something with my mother.’

Few hoteliers have been as influential as Alex’s mother Olga. Tresanton, which opened in St Mawes in 1998, was instrumental in giving Cornwall its high style reputation. And The Endsleigh in Devon, which Alex opened for her mother in 2005, brought significant verve to the country house hotel scene.

Alex Polizzi’s latest project is The Star in the East Sussex village of Alfriston

‘I needed to prove to myself that I can still do it,’ says Alex, who has spent a decade telling hapless hoteliers how to up their game in Channel 5’s The Hotel Inspector. Pictured is The Star's library

‘I needed to prove to myself that I can still do it,’ says Alex, who has spent a decade telling hapless hoteliers how to up their game in Channel 5’s The Hotel Inspector. Pictured is The Star’s library

The Star is a truly British melange of a 15th Century inn plus later additions and modern extensions, writes Sarah

The Star is a truly British melange of a 15th Century inn plus later additions and modern extensions, writes Sarah

The food? Chef Tim Kensett has cast his net over nearby countryside and coast for his menu, says Sarah

The food? Chef Tim Kensett has cast his net over nearby countryside and coast for his menu, says Sarah

Sarah describes the rooms as a love letter to the English countryside and its craft traditions

Sarah describes the rooms as a love letter to the English countryside and its craft traditions

For the past 18 months, the pair have been renovating The Star, a truly British melange of a 15th Century inn plus later additions and modern extensions in the East Sussex village of Alfriston. It was once part of Trusthouse Forte, the group owned by Charles Forte, Olga’s father and Alex’s grandfather.

The Star isn’t just a family affair – it’s a village affair too. The local blacksmith has made the table lights, the curtain-maker lives nearby, and the books in the hotel library come from Much Ado, the bookshop four doors down.

The backbone of The Star’s employees are local as well. ‘My assistant manager has five grandchildren and they’re all working here,’ says Alex. ‘So is our painter’s daughter and the plumber’s son.’

The Star has 30 bedrooms, all different and decorated with wallpaper and gentle spring colours

The Star has 30 bedrooms, all different and decorated with wallpaper and gentle spring colours

The Star is in one of Sussex’s key wine-growing regions – and to help guests explore it, the hotel has Panama hats and Rockfish wellington boots in every size to borrow

 The Star is in one of Sussex’s key wine-growing regions – and to help guests explore it, the hotel has Panama hats and Rockfish wellington boots in every size to borrow

The furniture goes from antique to mid-century and modern with complete confidence, Sarah enthuses

The furniture goes from antique to mid-century and modern with complete confidence, Sarah enthuses

Alex and her mother have chosen the art, from Glyndebourne programmes to lino cuts

Alex and her mother have chosen the art, from Glyndebourne programmes to lino cuts

Alex says that The Star project 'was a chance to do something with my mother'

Sarah describes the bathrooms as being beautifully balanced between grey marble and sage-painted weatherboarding

Alex, left, says that The Star project ‘was a chance to do something with my mother’. Sarah describes the bathrooms as being beautifully balanced between grey marble and sage-painted weatherboarding

TRAVEL FACTS

The Star, Alfriston, East Sussex. B&B from £190 per night. Visit thepolizzicollection.com for more information.

The furniture goes from antique to mid-century and modern with complete confidence. Alex and her mother have chosen the art, from Glyndebourne programmes to lino cuts, and commissioned an intricate floor painting for the restaurant. There’s wit too – the library has a secret door that leads to the restaurant and a shelf is propped up by a giant wooden hare’s head.

If The Star has evolved over the centuries, so has the area. The fields are still dotted with sheep but this is now one of Sussex’s key wine-growing regions – and to help guests explore it, the hotel has Panama hats and Rockfish wellington boots in every size to borrow.

The USP: Consummate style within a community. Step outside and there are churches, the village green and the National Trust’s very first property. The Star’s bar, still in the oldest part of the building, is companionable, with ancient beams and strongly chosen wines and beers. Dogs are welcome.

The rooms: With wallpapers and gentle spring colours, the 30 bedrooms – all different – feel like a love letter to the English countryside and its craft traditions. 

The bathrooms are beautifully balanced between grey marble and sage-painted weatherboarding. There are flowers everywhere.

The food: Chef Tim Kensett has cast his net over nearby countryside and coast for his menu, with mackerel married with rhubarb, chilli and horseradish, South Downs spring lamb, and turbot and Jerusalem artichoke. Breakfast is served from a vast 16th Century sideboard, with local honey and yogurt alongside sausages, smoked salmon and granola.


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