Ockenden Manor, Sussex
Located in the unfeasibly pretty village of Cuckfield is Ockenden Manor. The Elizabethan manor house has all the attributes you’d expect – from its wood paneled rooms, one complete with original Tudor ceiling, to the forbidding oil paintings watching you as you tuck into a Michelin-starred dish. As enthralling as these are, Ockenden Manor has an extra – rather unexpected – string to its bow. Hidden away in the original 19th century walled fruit garden is its ultra-modern spa.
Despite having only opened last year, it has already snatched up the Conde Nast Johansens 2013 award for Most Excellent Hotel Spa. And you can see why. Architecturally, the spa is a huge, avant-garde kind of space, built around the concept of light-filled boxes. Glass walls allow you to see over the infinity pool to the undulating South Downs’ countryside and merge the lines between inside and out. As does the steaming outdoor hot tub, the terraces and ‘sundowner chairs’ perfectly positioned for an end of the day ‘moment’.
Inside, you’ll also find a curving walk-through rainforest shower (fed with water from the spa’s very own underground spring), a twinkling steam room, sauna, Jacuzzi, gym and studio. There’s also a relaxing lounge and café (where an indulgent afternoon tea is served). But what sets this spa apart is its just-launched Create Your Own Spa Day programme. It gives a twist on the usually prescriptive spa days offered elsewhere, with guests given the freedom to choose exactly what treatments they fancy from a bulging spa menu. The five hours worth of pampering can include stand-outs, such as the Indian Head Massage (choose from Ila or REN products) and the Ila Ananda Face therapy – a reviving facial inspired by the Shaman women in Mexico. Taking the ultimate spa experience one step further, you can even book one of the six special spa suites situated above the spa. Just remember to change out of your fluffy robe for dinner.
The Create Your Own Spa Day includes five hours of luxurious treatments and starts from £400 per person Monday to Thursday and from £480 per person at weekends. Go with a partner, family member or friend and it is £750 for two (Monday to Thursday). The Create Your Own Spa Day Experience also includes a breakfast smoothie, lunch, homemade scones, a glass of Ridgeview Estate sparkling wine, tea and coffee.
This article is part of a feature currently published in the July issue of Kensington & Chelsea Magazine, out now.