SPA OF THE MONTH
Ockenden Manor,Sussex There’s something abouta traditional country hotelthat enhances that feeling of getting awayfrom it all, and even more so when there’shistory attached. At Ockenden Manor inCuckfield, Sussex, that feeling goes astep further, thanks to the thatched roof,low-beamed ceilings, oak-panelled bar,creaking floorboards and hardy antiquefurniture that make you feel as if you’vestepped back in time. This charming manordates back to the 1500s and, thoughnestling within nine acres of park andwoodland, is conveniently located on thecommuter train line from London.
Bedrooms in the main house also exudethe Elizabethan touch so, if you loveantiquities, you’ll enjoy the four-posterbeds, traditional dark-wood furniture andplush, floral furnishings. However, if youprefer a more modern look, stay in the spabuilding for a lighter, contemporary feel.All rooms are equipped with Wi-Fi andmini Elemental Herbology beauty treats.
The industrial-style exterior of the spa is asurprising contrast to the main hotel, butinside, the ambience is soft and friendlywith wonderful holistic spa offerings. Asyou enter, you’re greeted by smiling staffwho invite you to relax, have tea and catchup on the weekend papers in the large,open lounge area overlooking the pool.We tucked into a generous-sizedsuperfood salad of green lentils, avocadoand roasted vegetables for lunch whilewatching spa-goers relax and swim belowThe pool extends outdoors, where there’sa hot tub and loungers.There’s a mezzanine level inside and outwith loungers and views of the pools, plusa rooftop seating area that looks to theSouth Downs. Back indoors, the glass-walled mezzanine walkway takes you toeight treatment rooms, plus a steam roomwith forest-scene walls, and a sauna.
Ockenden Manor Sussex Photo Gallery
The spa treatments use British beautybrand Elemental Herbology, with a menuthat nods to Traditional Chinese Medicine.Natural health and beauty has always beenat the core of Elemental Herbology (we’rebig fans of the products that are rich inbeautiful, nutrient-rich botanical oils).The Rebalancing Ritual (£185 for 120minutes) is a signature treatment exclusiveto Ockenden and a truly indulgent treat.Based on the principles of five Chineseelements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Water andMetal) the aim is to create a balance of allthe elements, taking into considerationyour skin type, environment, lifestyleand the season. A questionnaire beforethe treatment asks how you’re feelingemotionally, physically and mentally to helpdetermine which of the Chinese elementsbest represent your current state.
Thetherapist will then select suitable oils andproducts to work in harmony with this.The ritual takes elements from botheastern and western massage techniques– think flowing Swedish massage, stretchesto rebalance the body’s flow of energy anda personalised facial. I particularly enjoyedthe use of warm poultices packed withspices, herbs and minerals massagedaround the body to work deeper into themuscles to relieve tension (these are thenyours to take home).The treatment finishes with a cheekyglass of sparkling wine (sourced locallyfrom Ridgeview Estate on the SouthDowns) and handmade chocolates, whichI indulged in after a hydrating herbal teathat brought me round while staring out torolling hills from the relaxation room. Thespa menu is impressively long with sevenfacials to choose from and countlessmassage and body therapies, including amuscle-relaxing Lava Shells Massage (£108 for 60 minutes), Isopod Floatation (£49 for 60 minutes) and a Summertime Skin Cooler (£99 for 60 minutes).
The Michelin-star restaurant’s sophisticatedmenu is inspired by British and Frenchcuisine, with seasonal and locally sourcedingredients. I enjoyed a delicatelypresented risotto, farm venison and LochDuart Scottish salmon. You can dine inthe elegant drawing room overlookingCuckfield Park or in the atmospheric,grand private dining room.
Stays at Ockenden Manor Hotel & Spa are from £199 per night, based on two sharing a standard room, mid-week, on a B&B basis; hshotels.co.uk.
We’re impressed by the naturalingredients and environmentalsensitivity of the bath and body,skincare and home fragranceproducts by British companyAromaWorks. ‘All our collections aresulphate free, petrochemical free,mineral-oil free, nut free, gluten free,animal-cruelty free, vegan friendly andsafe to use during pregnancy and forthe environment,’ they say. It’s ashame more companies don’thave the same values.The Serenity Bath Oil (£34.50 for100ml; aroma-works.com) boastsall-natural ingredients, includinglemongrass, neroli and geranium, plusorganic coconut oil and eveningprimrose oil to free yourmind from the stresses ofthe day before upliftingyour spirits and leavingyour body silkysmooth.Pour a few dropsinto the bath,then lie backand enjoy; or giveit to a friend – theoil comes in alovely box.
‘IT WORKED FOR ME’
H&F’s Editor Mary Comber triesa Korean chanting classWhat? Jung Shim Qi Class; from £80for 10 classes.Where? Jung Shim Wellness Centre,London (jungshim.org)
‘London’s hectic Oxford Circus isn’tthe place you expect to find inner calmbut, high above the bustle, lies theJung Shim Wellness Centre, an oasis ofserenity for stressed-out city dwellers.Jung Shim – meaning beautiful mind– is a Korean practice that rechargesbody, mind and spirit throughchanting, meditation and movement.It’s all designed to aid the flow of qi(or universal energy). I’m here to try aQi class so we head through to theSemtu, a room said to be filled withhighly charged qi. Facing a walladorned with a symbol of the thirdeye, we bow three times (to theuniverse, nature and family). “The bestway to receive energy is to makeyourself humble and open,” explainsprincipal practitioner Emilie Watson.We begin with chanting. Thestrange-sounding Korean chants havespecific vibrations to open your energysystem and clear mental chatter. Next,comes a series of slow Tai Chi-likemoves which, at advanced levels, aremore like dance, designed to get the qicirculating freely around your body.So far, it’s all very soothing and, bythe time we get to the final meditationstage, I find it easier to still my mindthan at the end of a yoga class. “Thechanting enables your mind to quietenand recharge,” explains Emilie.After a herbal tea in the friendlylounge area, I leave with a senseof harmony, tempted to returnto try the other Jung Shim classesand treatments.’