A review of Leonardslee House and Restaurant Interlude

You don’t have to travel far to escape reality and have the experience of a lifetime. Leonardslee Lakes & Garden welcomed me and my partner for a night, where we ate some of the finest food created on this planet, slept in the most decadent of rooms, and wandered the beautifully curated estate – all in less than 24 hours. 

Stay – Leonardslee House 

Set in 240 acres of private gardens, woodlands and lakes, Leonardslee House is nestled in the heart of West Sussex. It is a 19th-century Italianate hotel, that sits on top of a valley with a panoramic view of the beautiful gardens and lake below.

Built in 1855, Leonardslee house is said to be one of the most beautiful homes in the county, and it lived up to its expectation. 

The romantic Grade II listed house has 10 bespoke bedrooms, each with their own individual decor and en-suite bathrooms. We were shown to a Superior Room, with a super king-size bed and 300 threat-count bed linen to lounge around in. There was a luxurious walk-in rainfall shower and roll-top copper bath in the generously sized en-suite. 

The decor is what I would describe as a very sophisticated version of ‘Granny-chic’, and after 10 minutes in the room, I had visions of how I could recreate the glamour in my own bedroom. 

The hotel was incredibly quiet; and as we lay on the bed looking up at the intricate details of the ceiling, we could hear the soft sounds of the grand piano floating up the staircase. It was a real effort to move and get ourselves ready for dinner. 

Dine – Restaurant Interlude 

Restaurant Interlude is said to “offer a spectacular multi-course menu that changes with the seasons”, and those experiencing the dinner are “taken on a journey through [the] estate of flavours, textures and ingredients”. 

The evening began in the bar, where we enjoyed nibbles with a cocktail, before being led into the main dining area. 14 others were sitting down, and despite it being Michelin-star quality, there was an unusual air of comfort and ease within the setting. 

We didn’t know much about what we were going to eat until the plates arrived, and it was an honour to have been invited to experience an evening of 18 courses and paired wines. 

An in-depth explanation of every course wouldn’t do the ingredients or team of chef’s hard work justice, but several courses were our favourites. 

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Course number four, more creatively known as ‘Rabbit eats carrot’ was incredible. It was a signature dish that has been on the menu since the restaurant opened, and the humble carrot was transformed in several ways to create a beautiful masterpiece in your mouth. The vegetable which had been grown in Sussex had been reconstructed into a tart shell, a mousse, and biltong to name a few. 

Another mouthful of delight was the shot pheasant served with black pudding and autumn truffle, which we enjoyed as our 11th course.

When it came to desserts, dish number 15 was a spectacular taste of a warm summer’s evening; honey from one of the seven beehives on the estate combined with sunflowers and their seeds which had been grown by the garden team last summer finished with the delicate flavour of marigold from the herb garden. 

Whilst the food itself was outstanding, so was the service; from the sommelier’s interesting details to the freshly rolled napkin waiting for you after a visit to the restroom. By the end of the four hours, we left the dining room with the urge to broadcast how brilliant the whole experience was. 

Enjoy – Lakes and Gardens 

Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens reopened its doors in 2019 following a 10-year closure which saw the Garden I listed garden nearly lost forever. Luckily, it was the subject of the largest garden restoration in England, and quite possibly Europe. 

Whilst open to the public throughout the day, if you’re staying at the hotel, the lakes and gardens can be enjoyed at your leisure; be it an early morning stroll as the mist lifts, or a gentle evening walk. 

Despite it being winter with many of the plants in a state of dormancy, there was still a lot to see; from the peacock roaming outside the tea room, to the raft of ducks paddling on the lake. 

The deer park is located to the south of the estate and is around 70 acres large, with over 100 free-roaming deer to try and spot. While we didn’t get to see a deer, we did see a wallaby or three!

The Leonardslee wallabies were introduced by naturalist Sir Edmund Loder in 1889, and are believed to be Bennett’s Wallabies from Tasmania, Australia. They are winter-hardy, with a thick coat perfect for keeping them warm during the cold English winter.

And if all that wasn’t enough, perhaps a little sculptural art would pique your interest? The estate is home to Anton Smit’s sculptures in an exhibition entitled The Walk of Life. 

Book your stay 

Double bedrooms are from £293 per room and breakfast is £30pp (Friday to Monday only). Guests have all-day access to the garden on check-in and check-out day.

The tasting menu at Resturant Interlude is £160pp, without drinks. 

OFFER: Book a weekday stay Sunday to Thursday and get your second night half price. (T&C’s: Offer only available January to April. Must book over the phone. Subject to availability and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer.)

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