Set in 120 acres of gardens, woodland and Sussex parkland, the five-star Alexander House provides the setting for a tranquil countryside spa break. Utopia Spa has a calming, Grecian-inspired interior, with a deep-blue swimming pool surrounded by temple-like pillars. Fittingly, treatments are from Mediterranean-inspired brand Temple Spa, with therapies on offer to soothe both your mind and body. Oskia is also on the menu. Outdoors in the peaceful spa garden, relax in the hot tub.
- Single sex facilities
- XXL robes available
- 25 treatment rooms including four double treatment room
- Steam room
- Indoor pool
- Hydrotherapy pool
- Experience showers
- Outdoor hot tub
- 3 private Canadian hot tubs
- 2 relaxation rooms
- Nail spa
- Tennis court with a tennis coach
- Jogging trail
- Temple Spa
- Frank & Rose
- Jennifer Young
Our Spa Spy review
Alexander House is an attractive red-brick Sussex countryside manor that was once home to English romantic poet Shelley. Set in 120 acres of gardens, the hotel does ‘country escape’ with aplomb - towering chimneys, mullioned windows and an impressive carved stone portico scream Jacobean grandeur.
Turn off the main road and head straight through stone gates to the grand house, built in red brick and stone. There are staff to greet you and park your car, and more staff to check you in if you are staying overnight. The Grecian-inspired Utopia spa occupies its own wing of the hotel – simply follow the sound of trickling water.
What's on offer?
You’ll find the spa’s reception area just through the glass doors. There is a display of tempting Temple Spa and Oskia products on display, plus colourful seating and a ‘help yourself’ tea and hot drinks station. We were warmly greeted, and handed our treatment schedule, robe, flip flops, and a towel before being shown down the spiral staircase to the changing rooms (there is also a lift).
You’ll find good-size lockers, loos and five generous showers - each containing shampoo, conditioner and body wash and large enough to hang clothes/get dry and dressed in privacy – inside. One of the showers has rails and a seat for those that may be unsteady on their feet - having been on crutches for a few months after an accident, I am always grateful to spas who make the effort to be inclusive.
Keep walking and you’ll come across a steam room, sauna and monsoon shower - a treat in a changing area especially if you’d rather not steam in mixed company. After showering, use the central vanity island to ready yourself for the day ahead.
The thermal facilities at Utopia Spa are top-notch - we particularly loved the wonderfully hot hydrotherapy pool, with its six sections of bubbly jets and domed ceiling of stars; two swan-neck fountains provided some much-needed shoulder pummelling. Swim comfortable laps in the 15-metre swimming pool, with its imposing Grecian columns, black mosaic tiles and glinting lights, before relaxing in the small hot tub. Rattan loungers facilitate post-swim chill-out time – and you can telephone the spa butler for some pool-side hydration.
From the pool you can head out into the Spa Garden which is surrounded by tall trees, making it sheltered from the elements. The large square hot tub is popular even if it’s raining. Warm up in the striking barrel sauna. To one side you’ll find a pathway to an area containing three Canadian-style hot tubs which can be privately booked.
At treatment time, head upstairs to the pre-treatment room, with its curved leather beds and striking green/black bamboo wallpaper. Sit and watch birds fly between the treetops over the spa garden. The grand post-treatment relaxation room is much quieter, with 12 loungers around the edge and long flowing curtains that flutter hypnotically as you lie back and relax under a soft throw. Or curl up with a good book in one of two hanging egg chairs.
A gym, fitness studio and dedicated spa restaurant, Reflections, complete the long list of facilities at Utopia Spa.
Tell us about the treatments
We tried the Oskia Luxury Face and Body Ritual (85 minutes, £175).
Being a couple’s treatment, our therapists, Aimee and Daniella, led us to a dual treatment room and settled us onto the warm treatment beds, lying face down.
The treatment began with firm holding and aligning of the limbs, moving onto a very steady, firm massage that helped me reach a deeper stage of relaxation than many other massages - the therapists worked in timely unison.
At one point there was a lovely focus on reflexology points, perfect for me as I love having my feet massaged (although I think I heard giggles from my spa partner who is very ticklish). All the products were rich and creamy; the Rose de Mai candle stood out as spectacularly good – the warm, liquid wax used to smooth the skin was super relaxing.
The facial section of the treatment involved several very generous rounds of cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturising with some excellent facial massage (my jawline definitely looked sharper afterwards). The Vitamin C biometric serum left my skin feeling fresh - and looking glowing. Even my spa partner noticed improvements in the few areas of skin that could be seen around his beard and ‘Tash.
Alexander House & Utopia Spa offer a range of treatments from Oskia and Temple Spa - from Prana Vitality Full Body Massages to Champagne & Truffles Face Therapies - as well as treatments for pregnant ladies, those living with/beyond cancer and treatments designed for couples.
You can feast in your robe in the two-rosette Reflections Restaurant, accessed via the hotel or straight from the spa. The restaurant horseshoes around its own sun-trapped courtyard where diners can enjoy views of the open firepit surrounded by olive trees and tall orange planters. Leather stud-lined chairs and dark wood tables create a bistro vibe, while design quirks (think wallpaper adorned with cutlery) add some flare.
On the menu: a two-course lunch of salads, soups, paninis or catch of the day, or afternoon tea with fizz. My partner’s catch of the day with Jersey royal potatoes got top marks; my fresh asparagus with poached egg and hollandaise sauce was lovely and light. Judging by the number of elegant cake stands being delivered to tables, afternoon tea is a popular choice amongst spa goers.
If you have the time (and the budget), stay overnight in one of the lovely bedrooms and book into the rather grand 3 AA Rosette restaurant AG's for dinner, with its seven-course tasting menu with wine flights. Our first course was razor clam in its shell which, the waiter informed us, was entirely edible (the pretty shell a crisp pastry hand painted in black and white stripes to look like the real thing).
Beetroot and apple was followed by wonderfully tender brisket and onion; next came celeriac with apple and maple, then pork skin with white radish. My favourite dish was the lamb with morel and asparagus; my dining partner raved about the rhubarb, custard and ginger dessert. The wine pairings had us trying some crisp whites and perfectly complementary deep reds. Each course was an intense flavour delight.
We loved / we didn't love
The treatments: The Oskia products were rich and did the job well, making a noticeable improvement to my fine lines. We were both very relaxed after the treatment and ready for a gentle snooze.
The little touches: raspberry sorbets and frozen grapes were delivered poolside and out to the barrel sauna; the white waffle robes are generously sized and lightweight (ensuring you don’t get too hot); staff even offer to dry your cossie before you leave.
The skin care class: Chloe led us through a DIY skincare routine, answering questions and making suggestions as she cleansed, toned and serumed our skin.
We didn’t love
The black tiled pool area is quite dark and can be noisy when the bubbles are on.
The garden area could do with some green fingered attention. The gardener in me itched to add some bulbs and some flowering shrubs. Some of the flagstones around the hot tub were rather wobbly, too.
Who do you think would like it?
This is a good choice for a celebration: begin the day with some luxury spa time before heading to the Champagne bar for a drink. End the celebrations with dinner at AJs and that amazing seven course meal. A spa pixie told us that engagement rings magically appear from spa robe pockets at times.
Solo spa-goers: spa staff made a point of greeting everyone and checking if they needed anything. There is plenty of seating so you can curl up with a good book whenever the mood takes you.
Jet setters: at just under 20 minutes from Gatwick Airport, Utopia Spa at The Alexander House Hotel makes a great pre- or post-holiday pit-stop - you won’t want to leave.
What bubble rating did you give this spa?
Alexander House has a brasserie-style restaurant, Reflections and a fine dining restaurant AG’s.
Six types of room available from Standard rooms to Suites. Rates start at £145 per room per night (single occupancy).
The spa is open Monday to Friday: 8am-8pm; Saturday and Sunday: 8am-8pm.