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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Chee

Experience Pampering at the Historic Ockenden Manor Hotel & Spa, Sussex


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Situated away from busy London, in the quaint countryside village of Cuckfield in Sussex, is Ockenden Manor Hotel & Spa. Expanding from the hotel, is the spa. Unlike the fine Elizabethan manor, the spa is a modern building comprised of glass and steel. Patios are situated throughout the spa, bringing nature to the forefront of their ethos, yet through a modern lens. As a great contrast to its quaint surroundings, Ockenden Manor Spa illuminates relaxation and stands out as a sanctuary of rest and relaxation.


Photos courtesy of Jennifer Chee and

Ockenden Manor Spa provides an abundance of facilities and treatments for their guests' pleasure. An in-and-outdoor swimming pool echoes the spa's integration of nature that is featured in both its interior and exterior, as well as a walk-through rainforest shower that is fed by Ockenden Manor's own natural spring. Lounge chairs are situated across the whole complex, both inside – overlooking the swimming pool – and outside, overlooking the outdoor section of the swimming pool and situated aside the bubbling hot tub. There are 8 relaxing treatment rooms, as well as a gym and fitness studio, with personal trainers upon request and a variety of classes including pilates and yoga. Infused water is available throughout the spa, which was an appreciated touch to hydrate following an invigorating afternoon testing out the spa facilities.

The Spa

Whilst waiting in the lobby of the spa, I was kindly asked to fill out a personalised form, which guided myself and my masseuse to one of the five elements of Elemental Herbology's product line. This step was a deeply thoughtful addition to the treatment, as the spa made an effort to cultivate the experience around my personal bodily needs. Targeting each element to the whole body experience, the results determine the best-suited face and body products for rejuvenation of not only the external body, but equally the internal. Upon completing my personalised quiz, it was decided that my bodily needs were best suited to the Earth and Water elements. We then progressed to my two treatments; the 60-Minute Five Element Aroma Massage and the 30-Minute Botanical booster Facial.

Photos courtesy of Jennifer Chee

Beginning with the 60-Minute Five Element Aroma Massage, my lovely masseuse, Sophie, set the ambience with a calming salt lamp and essential oils, creating a calming scent throughout the treatment room. The massage used both Eastern and Western thermotherapy and massage techniques to create a balance. Wonderfully hot stones were integrated into the massage, adding to the comfortable atmosphere. The steamy towels then contained the warmth of the stones as my body was immersed in the rejuvenating bath and body oil, which uses lemongrass and nutmeg for a deeply grounding fragrance.

Sophie then moved on to the 30-Minute Botanical Booster Facial, a tailored treatment that seeks to counter current issues and rejuvenate tired skin. She began again with hot towels to open the pores, and then progressed to a deep cleanse of the skin. The cleanse consisted of several steps, using the vital cleanse from the Earth line, and calm & smooth cleansing balm from the Water Line. Following this, my skin was given some much-needed attention with a kombucha infusion sheet mask, alongside a deep head massage to blur my mind of any stresses. The ambience as a whole exuded relaxation, as attention to detail surrounding personal care was paramount. The facial then moved to several serums and treatments including the cell nourish radiance serum, facial glow AHA radiance polish, vital eyes, antioxidant hydration mist, cell plumping moisturiser and tree of life balm. All the products in the treatment were well suited for the rejuvenation of my dull skin from the inside out, and providing a pamper that was essential for countering my skin stresses.

Following my treatments I was kindly taken to the relaxation room, where I overlooked the spa on one of their plush reclining chairs, enjoyed a steaming cup of tea and allowed not only my body but equally mind to rest.

Ockenden Manor Hotel Restaurant

Photos courtesy of and Jennifer Chee

As part of our spa day experience we were offered a two-course dining in their hotel restaurant. Upon arrival we were escorted to our seats and greeted with a glass of their crisp Ashling Park sparkling wine, originating from Sussex itself. The light bubbles were the perfect refresh after a morning in the spa as we gazed upon the rolling hills of the South Downs from the patio windows. We were then let to ponder the menu in our town time and mask in the sun through the floor to ceiling windows.

For the entree, I chose the Homemade Pork and Duck Boulettes, a generous portion of melt-in-the-mouth pork and duck spheres paired with a rich jus. The rich flavours of the meat paired perfectly with a creamy butter-baked mashed potato, which was aesthetically piped into a swirling sphere. Atop the mashed potato sat a smoky chargrilled onion slice, which added a sweetness to the palette. Sweet, rich and creamy was then coupled with the simple yet flavourful root vegetables, including carrot and parsnip with wild leaves of garlic laid across the ensemble. The hearty collection of flavours was cut with a tangy and sweet caramelised apple sauce, the perfect supplement to the pork and duck. Both a feast upon the eyes and the stomach, it was the perfect comfort for a day of rest and relaxation.

My guest opted for the Roast Fillet of Loch Duart Salmon for their main course, a colourful display of vibrant salmon with the contrasting green, crispy tender stem broccoli. The freshness of the fillet as well as the broccoli was a delectably light alternative to my heart course. Beautifully chargrilled, the salmon fillet flaked away upon cutting, a key sign of quality cooking. Again, the creamy butter baked mashed potato was laid underneath the ensemble, in that same swirling sphere. A generous scoop of red onion confit was laid atop the salmon, an encompassing sweetness for the creamy salmon and mashed potato flavours. Encompassing the dish was an earthy yet light grain mustard sauce, enhancing the creaminess yet perfectly complementing the dish with spicy undertones.

To conclude our dining experience, myself and my guest both decided on the Warm Treacle Tart, accompanied with a clotted cream ice cream. The dark amber of the treacle made for a delicious visual image against the snowy white powder sugar atop, aside the ice cream, which was laid upon a biscuity crumb. With hints of zesty lemon, the chewy yet moist tart was lusciously rich, and paired with the smooth clotted cream ice cream, the dessert us wanting more.

Photos courtesy of Jennifer Chee

Full Moon & Fabulous Retreat

'Rewind your senses' through nature, yoga and meditation guided by Helena Skoog and inspired by the Japanese art of Shinrin-yoku, which focuses on nature's power to bring tranquility. Ockenden Manor Hotel & Spa's newest series of retreats, the Full Moon & Fabulous Retreat is running from early May to the end of September. Centred around the full moon lunar phase, the retreat connects nature and the body with the intention to regain internal balance through 'forest bathing', embracing the forest and slowing down.

The stay includes two nights at their luxury, 28-room hotel, with breakfast included, a light lunch on the second day of your stay, and a three-course dinner using locally sourced ingredients from the Sussex countryside. Meditation techniques are used through an introductory, and two morning yoga sessions, a forest bathing experience and an evening polestar meditation. Treatments include a 30-minute Isopod floatation session, 60-minute Aroma massage treatment, and an Elemental Herbology Five Oil gift set. Included in the retreat is also full access to the spa facilities throughout the stay.

Address: Ockenden Lane, Cuckfield, Haywards Heath RH17 5LD, United Kingdom | Phone: 01444 449191 | Website: | Email: | Instagram: @HSHotels | Facebook: @OckendenManorHotel


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