Ockenden Manor, Sussex

THE HOTEL: Ockenden Manor Hotel & Spa is part of the three-strong Historic Sussex Hotels group. It is a 20-minute drive from Gatwick Airport and a five-minute drive from Haywards Heath station on the mainline between London and Brighton. The hotel has 28 rooms across the historic manor house and a modern spa building, all set on eight acres of grounds. It is a member of Pride of Britain Hotels.

THE CHECK-IN: The hotel is at the end of a short, narrow lane and there’s plenty of parking outside the main house. The small reception/lobby area has character features including wooden beams and a fireplace, while side rooms feature wood-panelled walls. I was handed my key and directed to my room in the modern spa building.

THE ROOM: In contrast to the period rooms of the main manor house, the suites in this modern addition are contemporary and have the added bonus of access to a roof terrace with impressive views of the Sussex countryside and South Downs. Pale greens and flashes of pink gave the room a fresh, natural feel and an oversized headboard comprising a patchwork of different textile patterns and colours was a nice touch. A large set of shutters folded back to deliver additional light to the bathroom, which had a freestanding bath, separate shower and Temple Spa products. Amenities included wall-mounted TV, Nespresso machine, safe, fridge, iron/ironing board, plus a sofabed and table and chairs on the roof terrace.

THE FACILITIES: Breakfast, lunch, afternoon teas and dinner are all served in the award-winning restaurant which specialises in locally sourced cuisine. There’s also an oak-panelled bar and drawing room, and plenty of outdoor seating. I’m no spa aficionado but it was clear the facilities here are special. The indoor/outdoor pool was a real treat, and there’s also an outdoor Jacuzzi, a gym, studio and fitness classes, plus a range of spa treatments and therapies.

THE VERDICT: The modern spa building and guestrooms could hardly be more different to those of the main building but the contrast doesn’t jar one bit. The dining was good and the youthful staff did a grand job.

THE DETAILS: Ockenden Manor Hotel & Spa, Ockenden Lane, Cuckfield, West Sussex, RH17 5LD. Rates start from £199 per night. hshotels.co.uk

Reviewed by Andy Hoskins (2019)