Ockenden Manor Sussex hotel summer

Weekend getaways always seem to muscle in on precious weekday holiday time. In a bid to venture further afield we battle airport queues, crowded Eurostar trains, and passport control, so that by the time the weekend can begin, it’s Sunday. Instead of feeling refreshed, rested, and ready to brush off any Monday blues, you return home unintentionally exhausted from your short city break, with fewer working holidays…

 For SUITCASE’s London readers, fear not. Your Saturday to Sunday country retreat is just an hour away:

HOTEL NAME: Ockenden Manor

CITY, COUNTRY: West Sussex, England

CLOSEST AIRPORT: London Gatwick

BEST FOR: Country retreat and spa

AVERAGE PRICE P/NIGHT: £ – from £95 per room based on two people sharing. Breakfast included.

ATMOSPHERE: Courtly Elizabethan manor house with not a hint of stifling formality; welcoming personnel and modern spa built inside a 19th century walled garden

DESIGN: Wood burning fireplaces, oak panelled walls, indoor and outdoor swimming pool set against the stunning green pastures of the South Downs

WHAT’S FOR BREAKFAST? Stewed English apples with cinnamon yoghurt, plum jam on sourdough, farmer’s market scrambled eggs and a hot pot of coffee for two.

HOW ABOUT LUNCH AND DINNER? Dinner is the highlight. Start with a glass of English sparkling wine in the drawing room before heading to the majestic 16th century dining room. The hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant creates a country inspired seasonal set menu using ingredients grown in the county of Sussex; wood pigeon, pheasant, truffled chestnuts, and celeriac mash finished off with a hazelnut millefeuille.  Light lunch is also available poolside or overlooking the gardens.

SUITABLE FOR SOLO TRAVELLERS? Yes. Ockenden is located in the heart of the village of Cuckfield. Local members can also enjoy the facilities; and the communal drawing room and bar area are both intimate and inviting.

WITHIN A FIVE MINUTE WALK, YOU CAN FIND: A local pub, green grocers, rambler’s trails, and a vineyard.

FURTHER AFIELD:

Lunch in Lewes

Popular with artists and eco freethinkers, this picturesque hilly town is great for a spot of Saturday window shopping. Health food cafés, haberdashery havens, and vintage up-scaling gift shops live on every corner. SUITCASE recommends The Pleasant Store for delicious quiches, crumpets, and inspiring bulgur wheat recipes.

Botanical Garden Walks

Just a 15 minute drive from Ockenden is the varied National Trust garden of Wakehurst. Escape the city smog on a Sunday afternoon in this stunning woodland with its lakes, formal gardens, and some of the oldest trees in England.

Court Garden Winery

English bubbly now rivals some of its French Champagne neighbours and this nearby vineyard on a beautiful south-facing slope in Ditchling hosts regular tours and tastings (with tea and cake included).

SERVICES OFFERED INCLUDE: Extensive spa treatments, a large indoor pool which extends into the garden, steam room, sauna, and historic dining room with lunch and dinner service. (Don’t miss our full spa review here.)

EASIEST FORM OF TRANSPORT TO AND FROM HOTEL: Ockenden is less than an hour away from central London by train and the nearest station is Haywards Health. You’re also just a 20 minute drive from Gatwick airport.  Nearest bustling seaside town is Brighton, just a few train stops away.

IS THERE A BAR? Yes. Sample the extensive wine list by the fireplace in the cooler months or enjoy a glass of Pimms al fresco in the spring.

FUN/WEIRD FACT: Ockenden Manor features an Asian-inspired landscape garden in the middle of the English countryside.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Being so close to both London and Brighton, Ockeden Manor is in an exceptional location with plenty to explore but without any of the unwanted travel time. Avoid flight delays and traffic queues, and arrive perfectly refreshed come Monday morning.

Words and photos by Lucinda Elliott, @lucinda_elliott

24 hour Escape from London at Ockenden Manor starts from £455 based on two people sharing a standard room and includes dinner, breakfast, an hour’s spa treatment, an isopod floatation tank session and a fitness class each (yoga, pilates, zumba or Nordic walking depending on day and availability). Single occupancy starts from £280 per person and includes all of the aforementioned. For reservations – please contact www.hshotels.co.uk or 01444 416111.

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