Ockenden Manor Hotel & Spa, Cuckfield A Review

In a nutshell

An enchanting Elizabethan manor house with 28 opulent rooms, Ockenden Manor proudly boasts an outstanding spa, an award-winning restaurant and eight acres of beautiful grounds overlooking Cuckfield Park.


With its history and character, elegant sitting room warmed by a roaring log fire and cosy, wood-panelled bar, Ockenden Manor is a wonderful place to escape to and is less than 30 minutes from Brighton.  Set in the chocolate box village of Cuckfield, with its cornucopia of enticing independent shops and cafes, a genuine and warm welcome awaits you as you arrive at the hotel, which has a comforting and charming family-run feel.

The Rooms

Each of the 28 rooms are set within two houses, that sit proudly within nine acres of gardens.  Every room has its own character and identity at Ockenden Manor, all woven together in a maze of intriguing little corridors, nooks and crannies.  From the fabulous over-sized contemporary spa suites with roof terraces to the charming period suites and elegant, individually decorated rooms, there is something to suit all tastes. As unique as the hotel itself, our room was referred to as a ‘feature room’ and oozed romance and style.  With a four-poster bed, exposed beams, antique furniture, vintage style patterned wallpaper, thick and luxurious curtains framing sweeping views over the gardens, all the mod cons you’d require, plus a large bathroom with walk-in shower, the room felt like a timeless escape from the modern and manic world.

The Restaurant

The jewel in the hotel’s crown, the Restaurant at Ockenden Manor is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, mid-morning coffee or a full afternoon tea. Led by award-winning Head Chef, Stephen Crane, the Restaurant is without doubt one of the finest in Sussex, serving exceptional dishes that showcase the very best of Sussex produce.  High ceilings and original features, lavish chandeliers and an open fireplace blend harmoniously with the décor’s warm colour palette, with crisp white table clothes and fresh flowers on every table bringing bright accents. This is a truly beautiful space with far-reaching views over Cuckfield Park. We sampled the ‘Sussex Menu’ which changes seasonally and features classic dishes such as Balcombe Estate Crispy Wild Duck Breast with Braised Cabbage, Broccoli and Almonds in an Orange Sauce and an Oat Crème Brulee with a Warm Chocolate Emulsion and Whiskey Ice Cream.  To complement the fantastic locally-sourced food, Ockenden Manor is proud to serve 27 local wines, from the various local wineries in the surrounding area, including those of Ridgeview Estate, Albourne Estate, Tinwood Estate, Bolney Estate, Wiston Estate, Bluebell Vineyard and Nyetimber Estate.

The Spa

Modern in design but sitting harmoniously within the glorious nature of the Sussex countryside, the Spa at Ockenden Manor is a tranquil haven away from the daily grind.  The overall feel is airy, cool and calm, with rooms overlooking the fields and the South Downs, all flooded with natural daylight.

Open to hotel guests and spa members, the spa’s star attraction is the expansive swimming pool that is half inside, half outside, with guests accessing the outdoor side of the pool by swimming through a door in the glass wall. Sun loungers and cosy sofas surround both sides of the pool, as well as both an indoor spa bath and outdoor hot tub, plus a walkthrough warm rain shower which is incredibly refreshing.

Eight luxurious treatment rooms, plus relaxation rooms and spaces all feature nature-inspired and calming décor and a fully equipped gym and fitness studio offer a broad timetable of classes. For those who seek ultimate rest, I’d recommend a visit to the on site Isopod, a floatation tank where saltwater suspends the body effortlessly for total muscle relaxation.

The Spa at Ockenden partners with Elemental Herbology, a luxury skincare range which combines natural botanicals with innovative technology to bring ultimate indulgence and well being to your skin, and these products are used throughout the extensive list of treatments available.  I can personally recommend the Ho Leaf and Rosemary Muscle Melt treatment for anyone who suffers from stress and tense muscles.  Available at both 60 and 90 minute durations, this full body massage successfully relieves pent up tension within your muscles, enhancing circulation, very nearly sending you into a serene slumber!

With a lounge serving refreshing smoothies, drinks and healthy bites, plus Ridgeview Sparkling Wine ready and waiting for those who fancy a celebratory tipple, visitors can spend a whole day indulging in pure relaxation and escapism.

The Crowd

Although calm and restful, the atmosphere at Ockenden Manor also sings with excitement and occasion.  There is an unmistakable feeling of positivity in the air.  Guests are all visiting for a slice of indulgence, whether they are celebrating a special occasion, escaping it all, on a romantic getaway or seeking to spend some quality family time together.  During our visit, the hotel was alive with romantic couples, family reunions, sophisticated girly groups, including many mother and daughter combos.

The Special Touches

This is what sets Historic Hotels, the owners of the hotel, apart from the competition.  It’s those little extras that places Ockenden Manor on the map.  The fluffy dressing gowns, homemade biscuits, Temple Spa products, eclectic furnishings and charming vintage style tea sets in each room cannot fail to make you smile and feel at home.

The Deal

Ockenden Manor offers several packages throughout the year, including overnight hotel stays with breakfast, dinner, voucher towards a treatment and spa access from £299 per person.  Day trippers can enjoy a ‘Fabulous Friday’ with a spa treatment, a delicious three-course lunch, glass of Sussex sparkling wine in the hotel, and full use of the spa facilities from £165.

Be sure to visit the website for the latest offers, prices and packages.