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The Matchbox | Luxury Self-Catering Beach House | Winchelsea, Rye

The Matchbox

Winchelsea, Rye, East Sussex, UK

With a light-filled, nature-led design, The Matchbox is an organic luxury beach house overlooking Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. Just a five-minute stroll from the sea, enjoy an early morning dip at Winchelsea Beach before stretching into the day with some sun salutations on the deck. Bare feet, salty hair and sun-kissed skin are the order of the day at this uniquely relaxing self-catering family home on the Sussex coast.



Rustling sea grasses, calling oystercatchers and an overwhelming sense of peace; The Matchbox is the perfect self-catering beach house on Rye's unique coastline. Inside, exposed wood and whitewashed floors ensure calm throughout, while the wraparound deck and al fresco living areas encourage a life spent outside. Along the coast is the pretty town of Rye, arguably southeast England’s most quintessential town, where cobbled streets and crooked half-timbered buildings house glimmering antique shops and boutique artisans. Meanwhile, Camber Sands, Hastings, Pett Level and Dungeness are all within a short drive.


Tranquil mornings overlooking the rolling Rye Harbour Nature Reserve outside will be the perfect set-up for each day. Prepare hearty breakfasts in the effortlessly stylish kitchen and pad towards the dining area, ferrying plates of toast mountains and fruit. Taking advantage of every inch of view, the windowside dining table lends itself perfectly for socialising throughout the day. For cosy nights in, snuggle up together in the open-plan living area, glass of wine in hand as the dogs sleep and the woodburner gently crackles.


With a south-facing decking overlooking the sprawling nature reserve and sea beyond, The Matchbox’s humble al fresco living space is the perfect arena for listening to the gentle sound of waves and melodious call of birds. Early risers will be in their element at this luxury Winchelsea beach house; while the brood slumber the morning away, wrap hands around a steaming mug of tea, perch on the steps, listen to the dawn chorus crescendo and hang onto every moment of tranquillity. Throughout the day and into the night, the deck continues to captivate, especially when firey sunsets blaze reds and oranges across the landscape.

The Facts

  • SleepsUp to 6 guests
    From £1,995 per week, £1,495 per short break
  • Alternative group optionsUp to 2 or up to 4 guests
  • Bedrooms and bathroomsThere is one ground floor double bedroom with king-size bed, one ground floor twin bedroom, one first floor master double bedroom with king-size bed and en suite bathroom with shower attachment. On the ground floor sits the family bathroom with rolltop bath and shower attachment, plus a wet room with shower.
  • PetsTwo small well-behaved dogs are welcome
    Each pet is charged at £60 per week or part thereof
  • Arrivals and departuresArrival Time: 5pmDeparture Time: 10am
  • FamilyYes, children are very welcome. One cot and one highchair are available.
  • PracticalitiesThere is parking for two small cars or one large car on the private driveway, with additional free road parking. The unmade lane to access the property is not suitable for low-slung cars. The house is well-equipped with an electric oven and four hobs, a fridge-freezer, Nespresso coffee machine, dishwasher and a washing machine and tumble dryer.
  • Homestay includesLuxury welcome hamper, Locally made Wideye natural shampoo and soaps, children´s surf boards, beach towels, TV with Sky package, board games, DVD player, iPad, WiFi internet, gas barbecue, linen, towels, logs and kindling to get you started...House book - your property and destination guideDiscover more
  • Private cateringSeeking a celebratory dinner or fully catered escape? Our recommended caterers will work with you to create personalised menus for your stay. Details are shared through our house book on confirming your booking.
  • RetreatsFrom foraging weekenders to crash courses in cold-water therapy, our bespoke retreats bridge the gap between luxury and back-to-nature philosophies. Create a hand-crafted stay that puts connectivity at the fore.
  • Other informationProperty terms and conditionsFrequently asked questions

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The master bedroom with a feature panelled wall
The large, king-size master bedroom on the first floor

Prices & Availability


A golden nugget of a historic holiday spot, this ancient town in Sussex has cobbled streets, crooked medieval buildings and a quintessential chocolate-box feel. Rye is a step back to those sepia-toned bygone days.

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Getting there

  • On the Map The Matchbox is located just a five minute walk from Winchelsea Beach and 20 minutes from Rye.
  • By Car The Matchbox is located just two hours from central London.
  • By Train The nearest train station is Winchelsea, nine minutes' away by car.
  • By Air Gatwick airport is around an hour and 30 minutes' away by car; Heathrow two hours.

From the owner

“We fell in love with The Matchbox as soon as we saw it! Its unique and private position next to Rye Nature Reserve and the beach beyond make any stay here a restful one. In winter we love to cosy up by the woodburner, while in summer we throw open the windows and listen to the sound of the waves.”

From the owner

The Matchbox was built in the 1930s as a holiday beach home and when I bought the house in 2015, it was in dire need of renovation. It hadn't been updated since the 1970s and encompassed a series of small, pokey rooms.

However, despite the daunting task ahead, one couldn't ignore the house's unique position with the nature reserve to the front and Winchelsea Beach beyond. It is the most peaceful spot I know, and the house lends itself to relaxation year-round.

Whether you are staying at The Matchbox in deep winter with a fire gently crackling away in the woodburner, or in high summer with the French doors to the front deck open wide and only the sound of breaking waves and chirping birds, it couldn’t be more inviting.

The Plowden Family

Owner recommendations

Live like a local, discovering the best hidden gem restaurants, walks and attractions during your holiday in Rye with an insider’s perspective.

Grove Farm Riding School

To Do

Grove Farm Riding School

Set in the idyllic village of Iden near Rye, Grove Farm is in the ideal location for a riding school with over 60 acres of unspoiled land housing the livery stables and farmland with perfect bridleway hacking in and around Iden village.

Webbs Cooking School

To Do

Webbs Cooking School

A great opportunity to prepare and cook a specially designed lunch menu with Chef Paul Webbe, in the purpose built training kitchen. The day is relaxed, informal and fun and concludes with the sumptuous lunch that you have created.

The Globe Inn, Rye

To Eat

The Globe Inn, Rye

A trendy and eclectic clapperboard pub serving good, fresh food in a fun atmosphere. Featuring a lovely outside space and a more than decent wine list, The Globe offers a great drinks selection made in their own brewery and a delicious menu.

Rye Water Sports

To Do

Rye Water Sports

Learn to sail, paddleboard, windsurf, kite surf and more with Rye Water Sports. All ages and abilities are catered for in this fresh water lake just five minutes walk away from Camber beach. Challenge yourself and try something new on your holiday by the sea.

Guest Testimonials

We had a lovely stay. Sitting at the table looking across the nature reserve in the mornings and evenings was my new favourite spot... everything is so peaceful here, you can´t believe you are on the South coast.

The Matchbox was an excellent choice for us in a stunning, quiet, and peaceful location right on a nature reserve minutes from the beach. The house was clean with a modern vibe, warm and well equipped. We would love to return and thoroughly enjoyed East Sussex, a good selection of restaurants and good shopping in beautiful Rye.

We had a wonderful time at The Matchbox. The property was stunning and in a beautiful location. The owner was very helpful and attentive - whilst also letting us "get on with it".

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at The Matchbox and we loved the cottage. Very comfortable beds with nice linen and lots of nice fluffy towels. We want to return! Thank you once again!

The house is so beautifully done. A cosy atmosphere with bundles of style. The location is outstanding and the communication between us and the owner couldn’t have been smoother. This was our second visit and we plan to come back again soon!

Our experience was 5 stars all around. We met the owner by chance at his wine shop before checking in and the exceptional experience started there. The house was lovely and the perfect location nestled near the beach in Winchelsea. The pictures were very accurate and the house is well-appointed with comfortable furnishings and decor. The owner left fresh flowers, fresh milk, cheese, butter, eggs and wine for us. The Unique Homestays experience is top-notch across the board. We can’t wait to stay in another one of your curated homes again.

A really fabulous, stunning property. The Matchbox is well presented, stocked with essentials, bigger than we thought and it felt like our home so much that we ate in every night! We have already recommened it to friends. As it says on the tin, a truly unique property! Thank you!

The Matchbox is the perfect antidote - somewhere to completely unwind and enjoy the simple things in life. Tucked away from all the hustle and bustle and nestled between the pebbled coastline and pastoral views of grazing sheep, it is perfect for dogs and children alike. In September, the lane glistens with wild blackberries and rabbits hop around the neighbouring fields. With historic Rye, charming Winchelsea (resting place of Spike Milligan), Battle Abbey (Battle of Hastings) and a multitude of National Trust properties nearby, there is something for everyone here.

We had a fantastic week´s holiday at The Matchbox and we plan to book it again for next year! The location is great: to be able to walk to the beach and have the restaurants, vineyards and pubs of Rye and the surrounding areas so close by. Thank you, we will be back!

As always, a pleasure to use the house! We got away from it all, having taken our four bikes with us, the car did not move from Friday to Thursday, we cycled everywhere. We love it here and The Matchbox is a great place to stay.

We had a lovely stay at The Matchbox, it´s a lovely property in a gorgeous location with amazing birdlife and the beach nearby. And so quiet! Great for big walks, then home for a glass of red wine and a roaring fire. Thank you, we will be back.

We have had a lovely stay and The Matchbox is delightful, the standards of the property exceeded our expectations. The location is superb; very secluded and within walking distance to a very quiet beach. This is the second time we’ve used Unique Homestays for a special occasion, and the process has always been very professional, courteous and the properties are amazing. Thank you.

We had such a lovely time at The Matchbox! The owner was wonderful, so accommodating and super friendly during our stay. Thank you so much, it was wonderful.

We absolutely loved the property and its location. We would definitely recommend The Matchbox and hope to re-book soon!

Unique extras

From private chefs to luxury at-home spa therapists and adrenalin-fuelled retreats, once you’ve booked your stay we’ll introduce you to our owner-recommended suppliers to create a truly bespoke, memorable escape.


Below are a selection of features in which The Matchbox and Unique Homestays has appeared. If you would like to feature the property in an editorial capacity, please contact the marketing team on +44 (0)1637 882014.

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Disclaimer: These particulars, whilst believed to be accurate, are set as a guideline so should not be relied upon as a statement of fact. The photographs show aspects of the property at the time they were taken and it should not be assumed that the property remains precisely as displayed. If there are points of particular importance that need clarifying before you book, please contact us.

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