Ockenden Manor is one of our Sussex Exclusive dream destination hotels. It’s also one of three hotels in the Historic Sussex Hotels group and has been owned and run by the same family since 1987. The other two hotels in the group are Bailiffscourt in Climping and The Spread Eagle in Midhurst. It’s also part of the Pride of Britain collection of luxury hotels – a benchmark for excellence. There are no more than 50 hotels in the collection across the UK.
Ockenden Manor itself is an Elizabethan Mansion. You’ll find it down a narrow lane in the pretty village of Cuckfield and it has 9 acres of land and views across to the South Downs. The first thing that strikes you when you arrive is the tranquillity and the feeling that you’re somewhere special. As you enter from the front, you’re enveloped in the building’s character. This is Elizabethan grandeur at its best with oak beams, roaring fireplaces and stone floors. There’s a pretty walled garden to the side of the hotel and at the back, the dining room doors open onto a terrace and sweeping lawns.
A short distance from the main hotel, you round a corner past an old stone wall to be met with a gloriously modern spa. Its contrast with the main house couldn’t be more striking but it works. You enter to the soothing scent of aroma oils and an instant sense of relaxation, and the roof terrace, with its succulents and exotic planting, and bold triangular domes is compelling.
Your room is ready
There are 28 rooms spread between the main house and the spa. They are all designed with a touch of luxury in mind. In the main building, you can expect historic charm of course. The master suites in the oldest part of the hotel have beamed ceilings, wood panelling, and quirky Elizabethan architecture and the Sussex rooms are equally charismatic. You have a choice of rooms that sleep two or rooms with space for an additional bed or cot. All the rooms have a lounge area or seating area too.
Across in the spa and the feel is also luxurious but quite different. Large, light, bright rooms open onto the roof terrace with its stunning views over Cuckfield Park to the South Downs.
Reasons to stay
There are reasons to stay here a plenty but let’s start with the hotel. The elegant hotel restaurant is led by award-winning chef, Stephen Crane. The menu includes lots of Sussex produce from local wines to local asparagus, cheese and even potatoes and their website provides a food provenance map. They also offer afternoon tea, and there can be few more sublime pleasures than a glass of Sussex bubbly on the terrace with local jam, cakes and scones.
The spa at Ockenden is also reason enough to stay with indoor and outdoor pools, a treatment suite, an Isopod, fitness suite, sauna, steam rooms, and lots of room to relax. A spa weekend here makes a great mini break but if you want a little more from your break, you could opt for one of their forest bathing and meditation retreats or build your stay here into their “cycle electric” escapes. They also have rooms that accommodate dogs and even offer a Pampered Paws mini break.
The surrounding area
Cuckfield is charming enough. It has its own museum and tea rooms, a good pub, and a few independent boutiques. Slightly further afield but still within easy driving reach, you’ll find the botanical gardens at Wakehurst, Nymans Gardens, Leonardslee Gardens, and Ardingly showground and reservoir. The showground hosts a year-round calendar of events including everything from agriculture shows to Christmas fairs and a large antique fair. The reservoir is perfect for a little paddleboarding or walking (it’s not far from the famous Ouse Valley viaduct) and has its own nautical centre.
Ockenden Manor has featured in my own family history for many years, and my earliest memory there dates back to the 1970s, whilst one of my more recent memories is my parents’ own 50th wedding celebrations. Every visit here is different but every visit is always special. Ockenden Manor is elegant, charming and quite delicious and definitely makes it onto our Sussex Exclusive list of dream destinations.
To find out more or to book, visit: https://www.hshotels.co.uk/ockenden-manor
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