The Star at Alfriston is owned by Alex Polizzi and her mother Olga. Alex Polizzi is perhaps best known for the TV series The Hotel Inspector but is also part of the Forte dynasty (her grandfather was Lord Forte who founded the leisure and hotels conglomerate that ultimately became the Forte Group. In fact, he also owned The Star at one point).
The living history of Alfriston
As you arrive in Alfriston, The Star is one of a number of historic buildings that front the high street and give the village its reputation as one of the prettiest in England. Almost next door is Ye Olde Smugglers Inne which partially dates back to 1358 and has a long association with the smuggling activities of Stanton Collins, the leader of the Alfriston smuggling gang. On the other side of the road is The George Inn which dates back to the 14th Century and was first licensed in 1397.
The Star was originally a religious hostel built in 1345, and run by the monks of Battle Abbey to offer shelter to friars and pilgrims on their way to the Shrine of St Richard at Chichester. It became an Inn in the 16th century. Outside, the 15th century frontage has ancient beams and a red lion figurehead thought to be from a Dutch warship that sank in the English Channel. It is believed that the lion was brought into Alfriston by smugglers.
In 2021, the Star Inn featured in a Channel 5 programme, called Alex Polizzi: My Hotel Nightmare, which documented its renovation. Today the front belies the size and style of what lurks behind. There is a mixture of old and new rooms, a pretty courtyard, and 30 refurbished bedrooms. As you pass into the gated car park at the rear you start to get a feel for what to expect.
The Head Chef is Tim Kensett, formerly of The River Café. You can view the menus online and they promise lots of local ingredients. The menu changes daily.
You can eat in the courtyard, the restaurant or the bar and we chose to have lunch in the bar. The menu is relatively simple but interesting. Labourer’s Soup, Sussex Mayfield and Red Onion Toastie, Grilled South Coast Mackerel reassured that you’re “eating local” and pasta and Creedy Carver Chicken Milanese reminded me of Polizzi’s Italian roots. Your main lunch course will set you back between £12 to £21 and our pasta of the day was possibly the best pasta dish I’ve had in a very long time.
A bake of the day, Holy Cow! Affogato and a Sussex cheese board completed our meal, the cheese board being the most expensive at £12 which felt more than reasonable. I was slightly disappointed that there is only one Sussex wine on the wine list (Rathfinny which is only about a mile up the road).
An experience to savour
The service and experience at The Star couldn’t have been better and it all had a flavour of sublime luxury about it. Dogs are welcome if you let them know in advance and there is also a library, wellie boots, and hats to borrow, and even a portrait that blinks.
They do accept walk-ins for lunch although I would recommend that you book especially in the summer. If you’re exploring this part of the world, it’s definitely worth putting a Pitts-Stop at The Star at Alfriston on your must-do list.
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