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10 of the best Sussex spas to visit this winter

PUBLISHED: 12:06 16 January 2018 | UPDATED: 11:36 21 February 2018

Alexander House sauna (Photo by Dave Green)

Alexander House sauna (Photo by Dave Green)


At this time of year it is all to easy to slip into bad habits and elasticated waistbands. So the idea of rebooting one’s system at one of the area’s spa and detox retreats has appeal

Alexander House and Utopia Spa

This award-winning Grecian-inspired subterranean spa is part of a large country house hotel set in woodland near East Grinstead. Rooms are extremely comfortable and well-equipped with options including the Cedar Lodge suites with views of the gardens and countryside. Spa facilities are open to all guests over the age of 18.

The spa has a wonderful indoor hydrotherapy pool and hot tubs in the zen garden, along with 25 treatment rooms using products from ila (who awarded the spa’s Jess Farley their 2016 therapist of the year plaudit) and West Sussex-based Temple Spa.

What’s hot? The Utopia Bamboo Massage will leave you feeling relaxed and energised, with the sense that your muscles have been stretched, warmed and elongated. This massage covers the body and face. New for 2018 is the Totally Pampered spa day, which includes £260 worth of treatments.

Bailiffscourt Hotel and Spa

Bailiffscourt Hotel is wonderfully eccentric; a medieval manor house built in 1927 for Lord Moyne, then Walter Guinness of the brewing family. The spa is beautifully constructed in the style of a traditional Sussex barn, all exposed timber and polished limestone. Full-length windows allow spa users to enjoy the well-manicured gardens whatever the weather. There are both indoor and outdoor swimming pools along with relaxation rooms and a lounge in which to relax after your treatment. The spa uses Temple Spa, the prestige beauty brand based just a stone’s throw away.

What’s hot? A Brush With Heaven (£128) is a unique experience for face and body using, you guessed it, brushes of different sizes and textures to relax and stimulate. The hotel restaurant is very good, so we recommend making a day of it with a spot of lunch or afternoon tea.

The Spread Eagle Spa

This haven in one of England’s oldest coaching inns revealed three new treatment rooms this summer – doubling the size of the spa – along with a new relaxation room called The Nest. The Scandinavian-style spa is a contemporary foil to the historic hotel with facilities including an indoor pool and a charming garden in which to relax between treatments. Also using products from Temple Spa, the spa offers many of the same experiences as its sister establishment Bailiffscourt. However a unique new addition to the menu underlines its position at the heart of the national park: the South Downs Soother.

What’s hot? The South Downs Soother (£102) – 90 minutes of top-to-toe bliss incorporating a detoxifying body brush and mud wrap, luxury facial and foot massage, topped off with a glass of Sussex sparkling.

Wickwoods Country Club, Hotel and Spa

Primarily a country club and spa, this hidden gem near Albourne has a small number of hotel rooms. The therapists impressed the 2017 Spa of the Year judge at the Celebration of Sussex Life Awards, who awarded Wickwoods the trophy. A wide variety of treatments are available, from Guinot facials to tanning, lash and brow enhancements and nail services. Facilities include an indoor pool, sauna, steam room, eight tennis courts and a sprung floor studio for exercise classes.

What’s hot? Spa manager Rosie Lowden names the Bamboo Massage (£75) as her favourite treatment. There are plans to extend the spa in late 2018, while a pod will arrive in the grounds for personal training sessions in February 2018.

Ockenden Manor

This hotel is set in nine acres of garden just off the High Street of the charming village of Cuckfield. The spa is a striking contemporary edifice that complements its surroundings, providing a real ‘out of time’ sanctuary. There’s an indoor pool with full-length windows allowing view of the grounds – and there’s the option to swim through to the outdoor pool too. A rainforest shower is fed by the hotel’s own natural underground spring.

What’s hot? The spa’s recent focus has been its range of Isopod treatments called The Silent Treatment (£49-195) – encouraging guests to take time out, float effortlessly in hyper-saline water akin to the Dead Sea and relax every muscle to enjoy a wonderful feeling of weightlessness. The Awakening Flotation and Absolute Flotation combine the restorative effects of floating and Elemental Herbology treatments.

Park House Hotel and Spa

This delightful country house has played host to Princess Diana and the polo crowd attracted by nearby Cowdray Park. Both hotel and spa have won multiple awards including Conde Nast Johansens’ Best Luxury Value Award 2018. The spa has facilities including an indoor mother-of-pearl swimming pool with marble entry shower and jacuzzi, relaxation areas, steam room and sauna. For more active guests, there are grass tennis courts, a bowls lawn and croquet lawn. Product ranges used include Irish brand VOYA for face and body.

What’s hot? The Self-discovery Radiance Facial (£65) is an hour-long organic indulgence made bespoke after discussions about skin type. Sussex Life’s tester said it was the best facial she’d ever had.

Spa at The Grand, Brighton

This luxury subterranean spa could be on a different planet from Brighton’s busy seafront. Perhaps the jewel in its crown is the sumptuous relaxation room with its sofas and day beds. Elsewhere there is a sauna and steam room. Product and treatment ranges used include the vegan and organic Natural Spa Factory, Heaven skincare and Carita. There is a spa café (which must be booked) but the hotel’s seafood restaurant GB1 is highly recommended.

What’s hot? The Gold Champagne Facial (£85) combines some truly decadent ingredients: pearl and caviar with champagne extract. The treatment includes a glass of bubbly. The Heaven Bee-sting Facial (£95) has been specially created using natural and organic ingredients to increase collagen, reduce sun damage and pigmentation. Fans apparently include the Duchesses of Cornwall and Cambridge: if it’s good enough for the royal family, it’s good enough for us…

Brooklands Barn

This lovely venue in countryside near Arundel is partly responsible for the town’s number one spot in Travel Supermarket’s Mindful Getaway Guide. It plays hosts to various retreats throughout the year, including Platinum Healing (“one of the best juice retreats in the world”, according to the Telegraph) and Sally Parkes Yoga, who offers teacher training as well as retreats for relaxation and healing. The luxury barn accommodation includes an indoor swimming pool and there is a profusion of lovely walks and countryside nearby – along with panoramic views of the famous castle.

Retreats vary from weekends to longer stays: go to the Brooklands Barn website for a full list of retreats and links to the owners’ websites.

Detox destinations


Weight loss is the object at this retreat near Battle. The redoubtable owner Galia Grainger has made various television appearances and she has the charisma and warmth to help her clients through what is quite an arduous programme of long walks and minimal food (the daily menu might include juices, broths and raw food). Russian-born Galia says she first observed the benefits of fasting through her grandmother who lived to 103, and she herself lost four stone on her raw vegan diet. Treatments include massage, birching and cupping. Accommodation is in a lovely old manor house with some rooms enjoying wood panelling and four-poster beds. Weekend retreats start from £425.

Simply Healing

At the heart of this detox retreat’s philosophy is the juice cleanse pioneered by owner Vivien Kay. As well as the programmes aimed at those seeking to lose weight or reboot their system, the centre offers residential plans targeting specific issues, such as fertility or menopause. Last time Sussex Life visited our reviewer called the five-day juice cleanse “the ultimate MOT for the body”.

Five and seven-day retreats are on offer at this lovely country house, with flexi dates for those limited for time. Prices start from £1,850 per person for The 5 Day Inch & Weight Loss Retreat or £1,600 per person for The 5 Day Ultimate Retreat. The Weekend Retreat is £550.


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