IT NEVER fails to amaze me how many people still know nothing about Ghyll Manor hotel and restaurant.
“Where’s that?” I was asked only last week when I was discussing this visit.
It is indeed one of Horsham’s hidden gems.
Located just a stone’s throw from the town in the picturesque village of Rusper, it is a 17th century mansion house - with some later additions - turned country house hotel.
It is set in 40 acres of idyllic grounds with astonishing views toward and beyond the shimmering lake.
It warmly welcomes guests who want to stay or make use of the award-winning restaurant, but it also specialises in weddings and business meetings and events.
There are 29 bedrooms, in a classic but contemporary style, plus a new cottage.
We stayed in the mansion itself - with the name of the Four Poster room accurately reflecting the style of bed within.
It was a large, sweeping room full of beams and character. It was spotlessly clean.
The en-suite bathroom was bright, white, very clean and spacious - although it is difficult to prevent cracking in the grouting of the floor ceramics when they are set on ancient, wooden floors.
And it was quiet too - despite the proximity to Gatwick and a wedding party in full swing.
Ghyll benefits from a special, elegant hall - Hunsdon - set apart from the main building, in which it holds many of its functions but which is sufficiently separate not to interfere with those enjoying a relaxing stay. But there is also the option of using the Terrace Room too.
The food in the restaurant is excellent - with a good range of dishes including a pre-starter, and a sorbet course for those who want to refresh the palate.
When we dined we sampled every part of the menu. The roast lamb, John Dory, the fish and chips and the pork belly were particularly good. The carrot and ginger soup was the one weakness. The ginger unnecessarily overpowered the carrot. This potent spice needs treating with more respect.
Service was well up to the mark, thanks to our waitress Charlotte, even though a wedding breakfast was in full swing elsewhere.
But then, there is a real sense - thanks no doubt to the leadership of the general manager and his top team - that the staff really enjoy working there and will go out of their way to ensure guests have a great stay.
The restaurant itself is set in the oldest part of the building and is full of character, with great views over the patio toward the lake.
There is also a real emphasis on value - with a number of packages being offered.
Weddings are an important element of Ghyll Manor. It is licensed to hold Civil Ceremonies and Civil Partnerships with a capacity of up to 120 guests and a reception capacity of up to 200; and a marquee in the grounds is also an option for larger gatherings.
Wedding open days - 10am to 4pm - are held regularly, so you can see first hand without commitment what is on offer and what it might cost, with the next planned for Sunday August 21. It includes complimentary admission and welcome drink on arrival.
Ghyll Manor Hotel & Restaurant, High Street, Rusper, Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 4PX. For more information and bookings, visit www.ghyllmanor.co.uk or contact 0845 345 3426. Lines are open 7 days a week, 8am to 11pm.