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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

www.hshotels.co.uk/hotels/ockenden-manor


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

www.thegrove.co.uk

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