Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Bank Holiday Weekend @ Ockenden Manor Hotel and Spa, West Sussex
Oh my goodness. We just had the most amazing (long) weekend away at Ockenden Manor - a hotel and spa located in a delightful little village called Cuckfield, deep in the West Sussex countryside.
I'd been struggling with a cold toward the end of the week last week and was really looking forward to getting some R&R at this beautiful spa hotel. John and I haven't been away together for a relaxing break like this in ages, so it was downright luxurious.
This was our view on most mornings:
I'd booked a "superior" room in the main building, but was informed when I arrived that we'd been upgraded to a junior spa suite. Heaven. Our room was gorgeous and had a free-standing tub (my weakness) and beautiful furnishings from Heal's. The bed was so fluffy and comfortable, I wanted to stay in it all day long!
We spent the weekend sipping wine in bare feet on the spa's roof terrace (which was conveniently accessible from our room) and swimming laps in the outdoor pool, which is connected to the indoor pool by a small little gap that you swim through - isn't that fun? The sun was out for most of the time, thankfully! But even after it set, we took a dip in the spa's outdoor jacuzzi and sat there under the stars, until closing time.
On Saturday evening, we had dinner at the hotel's Michelin-starred restaurant, which was incredible. I would have snapped some photos but the restaurant had a no-phone policy (and rightly so!), so I wanted to respect that. Moreover, I don't think you can really enjoy the experience of eating a beautifully crafted meal when you're too busy trying to get the "right angle" of each of your dishes! Leave that up to the website, I say. I had the most deliciously dreamy scallops as a starter, which was served with a sensational avocado, coriander, and tomato salsa, plus a brilliant but rich main course of oxtail, delicately balanced between paper-thin slices of celeriac. It was divine. But the best part was the "strawberries and cream" dessert, which arrived on a very thin layer of strawberry jello, with miniature meringues and homemade marshmallows. It might have been the best dessert I've ever had!
On Sunday, we took advantage of the nice weather and went for a walk in the countryside near the hotel. As John knows, I'm not the biggest nature lover (ask me about the time I wore completely inappropriate clothing for a hike in the Yorkshire Dales - hint: Steve Madden rain boots and a Tommy Hilfiger trench do not fare well in torrential downpour and slippery hillsides) but it was so nice to get some fresh air and stroll through the verdant woods and fields.
On Monday, we were so sad to leave. I called the front desk when we woke up to ask how much late checkout would cost and they were so nice, they let us have the room until 12:30 pm for no extra fee. The receptionist added that we could stay in the spa until 4:00 pm, even after we had checked out. We had a nice, long breakfast and spent an hour more or so in the spa until our cab came to take us to the train station.
It's a super easy train journey from London: 45 minutes from Victoria station or an hour from Blackfriars, followed by a 10 minute cab ride at the other end. I think, if you're spending a weekend or a short period of time away, your journey from your doorstep to the other end should be as seamless and stress-free as possible! Otherwise, it kind of defeats the purpose of having a relaxing spa break.
Oh, Ockenden Manor, I miss you so. Another day would have been perfect, but (real) life must go on!