The Cat Inn Pub with rooms in West Hoathly, West Sussex

Prices from:
£125 per night

David Hancock says:

  • Beautiful rural village setting
  • Local ingredients on the menu
  • Friendly and informal atmosphere
  • Roaring fire in traditional bar
  • Smart accommodation
  • Secluded patio garden

Sticky FingersMuddy PawsGood for WalkingCandlelitGreen FingersVisit a Stately Pile90 Minutes from London15 Minutes from the Motorway

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The Cat Inn West Hoathly, West Sussex, RH19 4PP

The Personal Touch

Given proprietor Andrew Russell’s 20 or so years at Gravetye Manor (a posh country-house hotel up the road), it is no surprise he has developed a keen eye for detail. He’s certainly rejuvenated the 16th-century Cat Inn that stands opposite the village church in West Hoathly. There’s plenty of period charm on show, including a glass-covered well dating from 1450, two large fireplaces and burnished panelling around the bar, with a more opened-up contemporary feel in the main dining area to the rear of the building. The Cat Inn sees an ever-changing array of art on display courtesy of the Ashdown Galley in Forest Row, and, unusually, they’re not for sale in the pub (head to the gallery if you like what you see). Warm weather sees doors open onto the patio garden to bring the outside in (or the inside out), and the four bedrooms offer contemporary comforts, with a couple of them serving up stunning views of the 900-year-old village church just across the lane.

Sticky Fingers

Well behaved children are welcome and can be accommodated in Rooms 1 and 2 (Z beds available).

Muddy Paws

Dogs are welcome in the front bar area, and can be accommodated in all the bedrooms.


The patio garden is set-up for eating outdoors with space for 40 people and parasols to keep out of the glorious Sussex sunshine (we hope!). On warm days doors open up to create a single flowing space between the dining room and patio.

What’s the Damage?
3 doubles from £125 – £140
Suite from £160

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken (exc Amex and Diners)
  • Alfresco dining
  • Disabled access to restaurant
  • Parking

Waitrose Good Food Guide; Good Hotel Guide; Michelin


The Cat Inn West Hoathly, West Sussex, RH19 4PP

Do Not Disturb

The four bedrooms are up on the first floor and offer a winning combination of period charm and contemporary mod-cons. For such an old property the rooms are light and bright, helped by fresh, neutral decor and colourful fabrics, with two of the rooms offering wonderful views over the church. If it is peace and quiet you’re after, the two rooms at the rear (2 and 4) are the ones to go for, but it’s hardly Piccadilly Circus out front. Room 2 is a suite with its own dining area and chez longue. Andrew Russell’s attention to detail comes to the fore again with little details like glossy magazines and bedside reading (dip into Red Sky at Night – The Book of Lost Countryside Wisdom by Jane Struthers), and provision of artisan teas and a Nespresso coffee machine.

Creature Comforts

Hungarian goose down duvets (changed with the seasons); The Cat branded bath robes; Nespresso coffee machine; Hildon water (still and sparkling); artisan teas with fresh milk in a flask; Bramley toiletries.


Free Wi-Fi; Flatscreen TV; iron and ironing board!

What’s for Breakfast?

Full English breakfast featuring local sausages, bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms and eggs as you like them; dried fruits such as prunes steeped in tea; muesli; thick Greek yoghurt; local honey; and homemade marmalade.

What’s the Damage?
3 doubles from £125 – £140
Suite from £160

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken (exc Amex and Diners)
  • Alfresco dining
  • Disabled access to restaurant
  • Parking

Waitrose Good Food Guide; Good Hotel Guide; Michelin

Eat & Drink

The Cat Inn West Hoathly, West Sussex, RH19 4PP

Mastering the Menu

Head chef Alex Jacquemin, formerly at the Royal Oak, Paley Street and the Curlew in Bodiam, and his team make the very best of the region’s produce- the commitment to localism is no mere lip service at The Cat. Dexter and Sussex cattle from nearby Butterbox Farm provide prime protein, veg and salads are grown at Courtlands Nursery a little over a mile away, there are British charcuterie produced at Beal’s Farm in Barcombe, and it is back to Butterbox for lamb from Romney and Portland sheep. The menu is bolstered by a blackboard of daily specials. Lunch can be as simple as a classy ploughman’s (Wookey Hole Cheddar maybe) or trad fish and chips in Harveys beer batter, but there’s also the likes of honey-glazed confit duck leg with braised Puy lentils and Sussex greens. Things are much the same in the evening (without the ploughman’s and sandwiches), so expect British classics and some Modern European ideas; seared king scallops in a first course with Indian spices and confit chicken wings, followed by steak, ale and mushroom pie. There’s no differentiation between bar and restaurant: sit where you want and tuck in.

On the Menu

Hazelnut crumbed goats’ cheese, honey-roasted organic figs, Parma Ham
Locally-smoked ham, White House Farm organic eggs & chips
Corn-fed chicken breast, leeks, wild mushrooms, cocotte potatoes, white wine & tarragon
Prime aged Hereford beef steak burger, Emmental, bacon & confit onion, brioche bun, aïoli & fries
Pear and frangipane tart, Chantilly cream
Selection of local artisan cheeses & biscuits, homemade chutney

Sunday Roasts

Roast sirloin of Hereford beef
Corn-fed chicken
Roast cod, wild mushrooms, baby onions, bacon, mash potato, red wine sauce

Foodie Extras

If you fancy a stroll around the churchyard – well worth it for the amazing views across the Sussex Weald to the South Downs – but the English weather has caught you out, wellies are available to borrow in the lobby. And if you want to walk further, OS maps are provided. There’s a live pianist on the last Friday evening of the month and every other Sunday lunchtime. At breakfast look out for the local honey and Andrew Russell’s homemade marmalade.

Time to Eat

Breakfast: 8am – 10am (Continental from 7am)
Lunch: 12 noon – 2pm (Friday – Sunday 2.30pm)
Dinner: 6pm – 9pm (Friday & Saturday 9.30pm, Sunday 8.30pm)

Local, Local, Local

Beef and lamb – Butterbox Farm (
Vegetables and salads – Courtlands Nursery (
British charcuterie – Beal’s Farm Charcuterie (
Sparkling Wine – Bluebell Vineyard Estates (
Tea – Prince & Sons (
Real Ales – Harveys Brewery (
Artworks – Ashdown Gallery (

Behind the Bar

The four handpumps on the bar offer up local brews including something from Harveys, the regional big-hitter, alongside smaller players such as the Long Man Brewery or the wholly appropriate Black Cat Brewery in Groombridge. When it comes to the grape, the nifty Verre de Vin system keeps wines served by the glass in first class condition, including English sparklers such as the nearby Bluebell Vineyard’s wonderful Hindleap rosé. Wines of the month ensure there’s always something new to try, and, if you just fancy a cup of tea, you can expect something from local artisan supplier Prince & Sons.

Time at the Bar

12 noon – 11pm, Sunday 12 noon – 10pm.

What’s the Damage?
3 doubles from £125 – £140
Suite from £160

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken (exc Amex and Diners)
  • Alfresco dining
  • Disabled access to restaurant
  • Parking

Waitrose Good Food Guide; Good Hotel Guide; Michelin

Food Trail

Take it back home
Tour the brewery that brewed your favourite pint, visit the shop on the farm that reared your delicious Sunday roast beef, and seek out the roadside stalls selling the local crab and samphire on the inn’s menu, the Food Trail features the local artisan producers and suppliers where you can buy to enjoy at home.

Change of scenery
Looking for a pub for lunch following a country walk, a different venue for dinner, or a good café for coffee, light lunch or afternoon tea, then the best in the area are listed below. If you find a new and exciting eatery in the area that’s worthy of a mention on the Food Trail, then please to do let us know –

1 Inn Location - The Cat Inn


Ridgeview Wine Estate, Ditchling Common BN6 8TP

Explore the vineyard where Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes grow in the Sussex sun, tour the state-of-the-art winery and, most importantly of all, sample their latest wines in the tasting room.


The Crown, Horsted Keynes RH17 7AW

The kitchen at this revamped village pub is headed-up by Mark Raffan, formerly at Gravetye Manor, but don't go expecting rarefied fine dining - tuck into pan-fried calf's liver with a red wine jus, or a hefty rump steak burger, in a relaxed setting.


The Coach and Horses, School Lane, Danehill RH17 7JF

Classic Victorian-era free house with Sussex ales and a farmhouse cider from just down the road, plus a menu of British favourites and interesting European-inspired options. There’s a lovely garden, too.


Gravetye Manor, West Hoathly RH19 4LJ

The magnificent one acre walled kitchen garden provides up to 95% of the fruit and vegetables used at the Manor in the summer.The restaurant is an elegant spot for lunch or dinner, or pop in for afternoon tea.


The Crabtree, Lower Beeding RH13 6PT

The Hope family's rambling and spruced up dining pub draws a discerning crowd for delicious Sunday lunches and an imaginative changing menu that brims with local ingredients from artisan producers. There's tip-top ales on tap, perfect with the Scotch egg with curried mayo, cosy rooms with open fires, and a flower-filled garden and terrace with gorgeous Sussex views.


Bluebell Vineyard Estates, Sliders Lane, Furners Green TN22 3RU

If you want to know what the hullabaloo around English sparkling wine is all about, head on over to the Bluebell Vineyard Estate. It is currently only open for pre-booked group wine tastings and vineyard tours, but check out the website for regular events.

Out & About

1 Inn Location - The Cat Inn



The Bluebell Railway TN22 3QL

Here you can experience the great era of steam travel and enjoy the sights that greet you along the line between Horsted Keynes and Sheffield Park, where you'll find a beautiful 120-acre garden close to the station. Created by 'Capability' Brown, the garden is famed for its spring flowering rhododendrons and dazzling autumnal colours.



The Fifteenth Century Bookshop, Lewes, BN7 1XH

Specialising in children's and illustrated books, this Lewes bookshop also has shelves of books on a whole range of subjects - including historical fiction, gardening, architecture and theatre.


Leadbetter & Good, Cliffe High Street, Lewes BN7 2AN

Offering a wide range of books, ceramics, prints, textiles and occasional items of furniture, this unusual store can be found in Cliffe High Street. In fact, all across the town there are scores of independent retailers, quaint streets and hidden alleyways to seek out.


The Chalk Gallery, North Street, Lewes BN7 2PA

Situated in Lewes, the Chalk Gallery is run by artists and devoted to promoting artists and their individual styles and subjects. The work of a featured artist is showcased every three weeks.


Lewes Forge, Fisher Street BN7 2DG

A traditional blacksmith's forge in the heart of Lewes where Ben Autie accepts commissions for sculptures and decorative items, architectural ironwork, gates and fences.


Doodie Stark, 99 High Street, Lindfield RH16 2HR

Located in picturesque Lindfield, just north of Haywards Heath, Doodie Stark has rails of quality clothes sourced from many parts of Europe and beyond. Stock changes every three to four weeks and new labels are introduced each season.


The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells TN2 5DZ

The colonnaded Pantiles, one of the town's best-known features, is well worth a visit for a range of stylish galleries, boutiques, lifestyle and cooking shops, and quality coffee shops. Arrive early for an alfresco table outside the Tunbridge Wells Hotel on warm days.


Brighton Lanes BN1 4A

This corner of Brighton represents a tightly packed network of narrow lanes and twisting alleyways where you’ll find countless independent shops, boutiques and jewellers. The accent here is on the quirky and eclectic.


W.F. Bruce's Antique Clocks, North Street, Lewes BN7 2PA

Expect an impressive stock of good quality antique clocks from the early 17th century to the 19th century at this Lewes business. However, these are clocks with a difference – stylish and often rare and unusual. In addition, you’ll often find various long case clocks made by Sussex clockmakers.


The Rural Vintner

Located at Sheffield Green, near Haywards Heath, the Rural Vintner is a wine merchant offering personal service and expert advice. There are also plenty of in-store tastings.

Places to visit


Ashdown Forest TN7 4AE

This is Winnie-the-Pooh country where you can rekindle cherished memories of AA Milne's wonderful stories from childhood. Ashdown Forest, the real-life setting for Winnie-the-Pooh, represents the largest area of uncultivated land in south-east England, covering about 20 square miles.


Borde Hill Gardens, Haywards Heath RH16 1XP

Located in 200 acres of parkland and woodland, Borde Hill Garden is where you'll find a dazzling patchwork of exotic plants, rare shrubs and champion trees. Country Life has described Borde Hill as one of the country's truly great gardens.


Sheffield Park Garden, Fletching TN22 3QX

Just about everywhere you look there are breathtaking views. Four large lakes lie at the heart of the garden, laid out by Capability Brown in the 18th century, and a walk here in each season reveals something unexpected and magical.


The Priest House, West Hoathly RH19 4PP

In the centre of West Hoathly is this timber-framed hall house built in the 15th century and seized by Henry VIII in 1538. Established as a museum in 1908, the Priest House features a varied assortment of 17th and 18th-century country furniture.

West Hoathly lies at the heart of a glorious swathe of Sussex countryside. A short distance to the east is the Ashdown Forest. Exploring this vast area of attractive heathland and oak and birch woodland takes you to Pooh Bridge, the Five Hundred Acre Wood and many other landmarks associated with AA Milne’s famous children’s books about Winnie-the-Pooh. Elsewhere there’s plenty of good walking to be had – including scenic stretches of the Sussex Border Path and the High Weald Landscape Trail.

Numerous routes for cyclists beckon in this rural corner of Sussex. Apart from the South Downs Way, there is the Forest Way, running between East Grinstead and Groombridge, and the Worth Way, linking Crawley and East Grinstead. These two trails have been created from disused railway lines. Deers Leap, south of East Grinstead, has 240 acres of mountain bike tracks and family friendly trails.

The South of England Show at Ardingly is one of the major attractions in the area but the showground also hosts many other events throughout the year, including Paws in the Park, a dog show for working, trained and pet dogs. There’s also the Ardingly Festival and the Sussex Country Fair at Parham House, near Storrington.

Getting there

Location, Location, Location

By Road
West Hoathly is located (& signposted) off the B2018 between the A22 (south of Forest Row) and the 2110 at Turners Hill, 3.5 miles south west of East Grinstead. The Cat can be found opposite the church.

By Rail
The nearest mainline stations are East Grinstead (6 miles), Crawley (11 miles) and Haywards Heath (7 miles). Trains from London Victoria (or London Bridge) take just under an hour.



North Lane,, West Hoathly, West Sussex, RH19 4PP

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Good Hotel Guide 2016 – Editor’s Choice Gastro Pub,

The Telegraph Travel, Fiona Duncan
‘Well, I’m purring. The Cat in West Hoathly has just become my favourite pub in Britain. Either I steal the whole place and stick it in my own village, or I move to West Hoathly. I suppose it had better be the latter. This is my idea of heaven, sitting close to a blazing fire, in a room full of bonhomie and character – The Cat is early 16th century, timber framed, with a brick and tile exterior – with something perky in my glass and someone pleasant to chat to.’

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