A lovely country spa just 45 mins from London, Ockenden Manor nestles on the fringe of the village of Cuckfield near Brighton.
When I arrived I headed straight for the spa, a very angular modern building tucked behind Ockenden Manor. The changing area was snug and busy and well stocked with robes, flip-flops and towels and luggage lockers. The Spa facilities themselves consisted of a large heated indoor pool area connected to a second heated outdoor pool, all very Scandi in design, with large windows looking out onto open fields and an indoor and outdoor Jacuzzi. A nice relaxation area overlooking the pools comes with coffee machine for guests to take out to enjoy in the outdoor Jacuzzi. There are plenty of sofas to relax on too around the pool and outside on the terrace and good-sized steam and sauna rooms and a walk through rainforest shower. It’s quite a compact spa area but it works. I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t a hydrotherapy pool but the outdoor Jacuzzi with its lovely views, more than compensated. The spa seemed very friendly and relaxed and there were many guests who were regulars, one woman told me that she and her husband come from Brighton for overnight stays and had been six times in the last year alone and advised that I sign up to their mailing list as “you get emailed really good offers”.
After happily spending the afternoon in the spa it was time to retreat to my room. I was staying in a Junior Spa Suite, handily just above the spa itself and perfect for coming down for a morning swim before breakfast. The suite was open plan and modern, in chime with the overall building design, the freestanding bathtub opening out onto the bedroom with shutters and the bedroom flowing out onto the private roof terrace – all very comfortable and with those stunning views.
The thing that really sets Ockenden Manor apart though, is its fine dining from award-winning head chef, Stephen Crane. I was shown to an elegant drawing room in the manor house for pre-dinner drinks and to consider the menu of duck, venison, turbot and pheasant – whilst a mouth-watering array of bite-sized nibbles were placed in front of me to try. Once seated, attentive staff served a delicious three courses of beautifully crafted and expertly presented food, each mouthful a delicate taste explosion. It’s easy to see why people travel from miles around to dine at Ockenden Manor’s restaurant. The meal was superb. Unhurried elegance, sophistication and delicate flavours encapsulate this incredible dining experience. Breakfast was a more relaxed affair but equally as impressive with a small buffet of miniature pastries and a selection of fruit, meats and cheeses and cereals, and a hot food menu. I opted for the top-notch English breakfast which really meant I didn’t need to eat much else for the rest of the day.
A spa break wouldn’t be complete without a proper pampering session, so after breakfast I had The Absolute Floatation, a treatment package that comprised a 30 minute macadamia and papaya full body scrub which literally made my skin feel as smooth as glass. Then I was shown to a private Isopod suite for an hour in a floatation pod – which was a bit like a bathtub, only with a lid. The water is filled with a dense compound of salt and minerals which gives you a sense of weightlessness, like floating in the Dead Sea. I wasn’t sure whether I’d like this but found that I really did completely drift off and relax so deeply that I completely lost track of time and was surprised when the hour was up. Then I was shown to a massage room for a full hour of Thai Qui Flow full body massage using hot presses all over the body. At the end I felt pampered, revived and fully refreshed and deeply relaxed. A wonderful way to end my stay.
Overall, my stay at Ockenden Manor could not have been better, a thoroughly lovely spa escape complimented by wonderful food and beautiful countryside.
The Absolute Floatation 165 minutes costs £195 https://www.hshotels.co.uk/ockenden-manor/spa/treatments
The Silent Treatment – Offer £294 https://www.hshotels.co.uk/ockenden-manor/offers/spa/the-silent-treatment
Review by Anna Power