The ability to control the interactions between functional biomaterials and biological systems is of great importance for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. However, the underlying mechanisms defining the interplay between biomaterial properties and the human body are complex. Therefore, a key challenge is to design biomaterials that mimic the in vivo microenvironment. Over millions of years, nature has produced a wide variety of biological materials optimised for distinct functions, ranging from the extracellular matrix (ECM) for structural and biochemical support of cells to the holy lotus with special wettability for self-cleaning effects. Many of these systems found in biology possess unique surface properties recognised to regulate cell behaviour. Integration of such natural surface properties in biomaterials can bring about novel cell responses in vitro and provide greater insights into the processes occurring at the cell-biomaterial interface. Using natural surfaces as templates for bioinspired design can stimulate progress in the field of regenerative medicine, tissue engineering and biomaterials science. This literature review aims to combine the state-of-the-art knowledge in natural and nature-inspired surfaces, with an emphasis on material properties known to affect cell behaviour.