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Spa Spy: Spa and the Home Counties - The Shires and the Sexes

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Ockenden Manor, Cuckfield, Sussex

In the middle of the rolling Sussex countryside, tucked behind a picture postcard Tudor village, you'll find an enchanting Elizabethan house; it's Ockenden Manor and it's beautiful. Roaring log fires, cosy wood panelled bars and elegant drawing rooms with a wafting scent of fresh flowers. If you're looking for the quintessential country house hotel, without the airs and graces, look no further, I've found it.


The room: Spa Suite, situated away from the manor house, in the spa building itself. A large open plan bedroom, lounge and bathroom with walk in monsoon shower and roll top bath. Glass doors lead to a large roof garden overlooking the South Downs, for spectacular sunset views. Ren products, Nepresso machine, and iPod docking stations in all rooms.

On arrival: Homemade biscuits and fresh fruit.

The spa: The Ockenden Manor Spa is set within a 19th century walled garden, a short stroll from the main house. An imposing wood and glass eco building, with woodland inspired décor that brings the outside in. Facilities include a large spring water indoor and outdoor swim-through pool, rain showers, an outdoor hot tub and fire, steam and sauna rooms, a manicure suite, yoga studio and well equipped gym. Eight candlelit treatment rooms with indoor and outdoor relaxation areas.


The treatment: Ila Chakra Wellbeing, a holistic treatment designed to relax the nervous system and promote lymphatic drainage. A questionnaire determines the specific oils used in the treatment, which starts with a foot and head massage to open up energy fields. An intensive Himalayan salt scrub, which is believed to emit positive energy, follows. A marma-point body massage using the bespoke blend of oils completes the treatment. Chakra healing music is played to complement each stage of the treatment.

I felt quite dizzy after this one. Completely wiped out but calm and actually very happy.


Other treatments include: Hot Stone Massage, Reflexology, Isopod Floatation.

To eat: Fine dining in the wonderful Michelin-starred Ockenden Manor conservatory restaurant.

Don't miss: A trip to the Cuckfield Museum, to learn about Gideon Mantell and his historic dinosaur bone discoveries. A stroll around the pretty village churchyard.

The deal: Mini Spa Revitalise. One night bed and breakfast, one 25 minute treatment per person, use of the spa facilities. £129.50 (valid until 30th September 2012)

The Grove, Hertfordshire

300 acres of woodland, magical gardens, animal topiary and an award winning golf course, The Grove, otherwise known as London's Country Estate, twists traditional elegance with a quirky modern edge. A huge mansion house, set in vast grounds with hidden surprises. Child, and romance friendly, with enough space to embrace one, and avoid the other.


The Room: Deluxe Double, spacious and contemporary with a kingsize bed, roll top bath and walk in shower. A seating area leads to a small balcony overlooking the formal gardens and mansion house. The White Company products, fresh coffee and iPod docking stations in all rooms.

On arrival: Homemade chocolates and fresh fruit.

The spa: The award-winning Sequoia Spa is set within a tranquil walled garden at the back of the formal gardens. A top notch, state-of-the art spa, with a stunning 22 metre, black mosaic pool, complete with an ozone filtration system. Facilities include a poolside Jacuzzi, steam and sauna rooms, a saline vitality jet pool, two fitness studios and a well-equipped gym. Twelve Asian-inspired treatment rooms with indoor and outdoor relaxation areas.


The treatment: The Rose Ritual, a restoring and rejuvenating treatment inspired by The Grove's walled garden. The treatment begins with a rejuvenating rosehip seed and rosewood foot and body scrub. Warm rose geranium and palmer rosa essential oils are then poured on to the skin for a sweeping Balinese massage. A scalp massage with a pink clay and watercress hair mask completes the treatment. £165.

I was left feeling smooth, rejuvenated and smelling of roses.


Other treatments include: Active Peel Facial, Anti-Cellulite Hip and Thigh Treatment and Dosha Specific Hot Stone Massage & Body Wrap.

To eat: Colette's for formal fine dining, The Stables for fish and chips or The Glasshouse for a posh fusion buffet.

Don't miss: The Expressions of Movement Sculpture Exhibition, which is showing within the grounds of the hotel until 30 September 2012. A trip to the Urban Beach, which is hidden behind the giraffe in the Victorian walled garden...

The deal: Spa Sleepover Break. One night in a Superior West Wing room, dinner and breakfast for two in The Glasshouse, a one hour treatment per person and access to spa facilities. £210 per person.

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