I am spoilt when it comes to Spas. When I visited Ockenden Manor Spa I had been at Kamalaya in Koh Samui only 3 weeks earlier. They are very different spa experiences – particularly when it comes to service. But Ockenden Manor was lovely in a uniquely English way – anyway here is my complete review.
Ockenden Manor Spa – Getting There and Away
Ockenden Manor Hotel & Spa is located in lovely Sussex – not far from London. Indeed it is only about 45 minutes on a train from London Bridge and then a 5-minute cab ride so it is super easy to get there. There are also direct trains to Haywards Heath (the nearest station) from London Victoria and London Blackfriars.
The first recorded owners of Ockenden were the Michel family in the mid-1500s. Alas, it was burnt down in September of 1608. It was rebuilt at some point in the 1650s. It became a guest house and restaurant after WW2.
Service was a mix but it is a lovely old hotel – so cosy. There are stunning fresh flowers everywhere. The bar is really comfy and there is a lovely big sort of living room with a fireplace which is where afternoon tea was served.
Alas, it appears this gets booked out quite far in advance so if you want a classic afternoon tea book it in. We had the low brow by comparison experience of scones in the spa eating area – but the scones were still delicious!
This is also a lovely room to sit early evening and relax.
Ockenden Manor Hotel & Spa: Things to Do
Go for a walk! The hotel has a brilliant folder with about 20 different walks. The walk varies in length from 30 minutes to 5 hours. It is a great set up – the hotel has photocopied all of them so you just take out a copy of the walk you want.
Ockenden is actually in the town of Cuckfield which is cute. It has a beautiful old church with a picturesque graveyard. We were lucky enough to have a beautiful morning and ended up randomly wandering a bit.
If you have a car then Brighton is a short drive (Read my post about a Brighton day trip here). Rye and Battle are also lovely places to visit that are nearby.
Ockenden Manor: Food and Drinks
Fabulous! My favourite thing about the wine was that they had 3 local sparkling wines on offer. This is a great area for English sparklings. Or if you want to go with classic French champagne don’t miss The Gosset. There was an extensive wine list plus several wine options by the glass.
We had lunch on arrival. I went with the Sunday roast beef which was delicious and served wonderfully pink. It came with some chips and some carrots which were a nice change from a full on all the trimmings roast.
Our deal included a 3-course dinner so of course, we had to take advantage of all 3 courses! I started with the stilton dumplings. I had never had a stilton dumpling! It was delicious. Creamy Stilton oozed out. Yum.
Next up was cod with mushrooms on top and a lovely foam sauce. Dessert was an amazing chocolate fondant with mint choc chip ice cream.
Breakfast was a mix of cooked a la carte and a buffet. The orange juice was particularly good. The buffet features stewed and fresh fruits, some lovely yoghurt and small pastries. There is some lovely local cheese that I couldn’t not try – the cheddar was particularly good. Then I had the scrambled eggs and smoked salmon which were fantastic.
We enjoyed a late lunch at the spa. We couldn’t decide between wraps or salad we split a chicken wrap and super food salad – this was excellent. Next up were the scones which were absolutely sensation! The clotted cream was amazing!
There is free coffee all over Ockenden Manor spa which is a nice touch. There is a Nespresso machine in the spa and in the room and it is all complimentary. As we are in England, of course, there is tea everywhere.
Ockenden Manor Hotel: The Rooms
We loved our room! We had a twin room called David on the 2nd floor. I think we were under the eaves/in a loft. It was quite spacious and yet so cozy. We had two super cute little windows with seats underneath. The beds were very very comfortable. The interior was cute and English eccentric. We even had a comfy couch!
There are bathrobes and some nice toiletries. There were 2 sets of toiletries with one set actually in the shower (why don’t more hotels put the actual shower toiletries in the shower???) and another full set by the basin. We had both a claw foot bathtub and a gorgeous giant shower with which I was very happy.
Our room had 2 bathrobes and a hairdryer.
Ockenden Manor Spa
The spa is a lovely building and space! It is not huge and we were there in January when it was fully booked. Alas, it did feel a bit full. There is a nice seating area next to reception with a view over the pool etc where you can eat or wait for your treatment.
The treatment menu is big! treatment. I only sampled the float tank. It was very nice but if I am very honest I got a bit bored! This is one of their signature treatments
There is a gorgeous rainforest type walk through and around shower experience which I loved. At 15m the pool is long enough for laps. There is an outside and inside section of the pool and outside and inside jacuzzis.
The spa has nice couches and lounge chairs all around but not as many as you would ideally like – the space felt a little cramped and it was tough to get a lounge. I think it would be better to visit when it is warmer (yes ha ha) as there are then lounge chairs outside increasing your chances of bagging one!
There is a full gym but I chose to do laps instead. There is also yoga on offer but it was full the day we were able to go. Yoga classes cost an additional 6 pounds.
Bathrobes, towels and flip-flops are on offer in the change room.
The spa has a steam room and sauna. There is a decent change room with showers. I loved the toiletries which were Elemental Herbology.
There are loads of different packages and offers. These cover both day spa deals as well as deals like we had for accommodation and dinner and breakfast. Our offer also included 25 pounds towards a treatment.
Ockenden Manor Hotel & Spa: The Service
The service was such a mix! Everyone is so friendly and so lovely. But things aren’t exactly smooth. We arrived and sat down in the bar to look at lunch – it was just after 130 and lunch finished at 2. We preferred the bar to the main restaurant but then there was back and forth as to whether we could have the restaurant menu in the bar area.
We then waited over 20 minutes to be asked for a drink order – and that only happened after I got up and found someone. They were lovely about it but still, it wasn’t ideal. We then went to the spa where we were told that the yoga class was booked out for the next day as were most of the treatments. This was a little frustrating as it would have been nice to know this might happen and that we should book ahead of time.
Again, it was slow getting a drink ordered in the evening and slow to get our order taken. However, the food arrived quickly, was delicious and the service very friendly.
It was slow to get our coffee and breakfast order taken in the morning – despite asking if we could order coffee asap when we came in. However, again the food arrived quickly and was delicious.
The spa had a lot of staff on but there were still waits at the reception. I was then told oh your booking was at 12 when it had been and they had suggested changing it to 1230. Alas, this was the theme of the stay – slightly not right service and slow initially but very friendly, the goods were great and once we got things going they moved quickly and were done properly. Such an unusual mix!
Ockenden Manor: The Verdict
Visiting Ockenden Manor Spa on a deal is fantastic value for money. The property is stunning, the rooms lovely and the food is excellent. The spa is lovely and has excellent facilities. The only downside was the often very slow service. However, when I offset this against the value for money it is still well worth visiting. I would recommend attending outside of winter. There will probably be fewer people and the warm weather means you can head outside which I think will give a greater sense of space.
Other Spas in Sussex and Kent:
Rowhill Grange Hotel & Utopia Spa. The Utopia spa is Roman inspired and very decadent! Two floors of pools, 19 treatment rooms, gym, hydrotherapy pool, bubble pool, steam, sauna – the list goes on and on! Prices from £220. Click here for Prices and Availability.
Grayshott Health Spa. Indoor and outdoor pool, an extensive treatment menu and nutritious food. Check out their programs. Prices from £175. Click here for Prices & Availability.
Alexander House Hotel. A zen garden, an indoor pool with Tuscan columns, L’occitane toiletries and an insane number of treatments. Prices from £159. Click here for Prices & Availability.
Tours you might want to take whilst in England
Central London and the key tourist sights are so much closer than you might think! Grab your visitor oyster card and it is quite easy to get around. In addition to doing that I personally love taking a couple of tours when I visit cities – especially to find interesting food places or more recent history or hidden gems. Two tour companies I like alot for general interesting tours in London are Local Guddy and Get Your Guide. I also highly recommend London Tailored Tours and the fab Charlie – especially for her brilliant Borough Market Tour.