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. Outdoors in the peaceful spa garden, relax in the hot tub.
- Single sex facilities
- XXL robes available
- 25 treatment rooms including one double treatment room
- Steam room
- Indoor pool
- Hydrotherapy pool
- Experience showers
- Outdoor hot tub
- Relaxation room
- Single sex facilities
- Hair studio and nail spa
- Fitness classes
- Temple Spa
- Tri Dosha
Our Spa Spy review
Alexander House Hotel is an attractive red-brick Georgian manor set in 120 acres of gardens, Sussex woodland and parkland. High ceilings and oak-wood cladding set the countryside tone; the use of cool, fresh colours creates a perfect example of traditional meets contemporary. The Grecian-inspired Utopia spa -- a few steps away from hotel reception -- has temple-like pillars and Mediterranean-inspired treatments.
What's on offer?
Staff greeted us, took our luggage and showed us to the spa reception. We could hear the spa before we saw it. Beside the entrance is a small pool with falling water which makes a very restful sound. In Feng Shui, flowing water is supposed to bring prosperity as well as stimulate the senses and relax the soul. So, a good start to a spa day!
The spa reception has a small boutique selling beauty products and a manicure and pedicure area. The reception, relaxation room and restaurant occupy the ground floor; the wet facilities and changing rooms the lower floor; the 25 treatment rooms are up a spiral staircase on the first floor.
The spacious and well-equipped changing rooms have some seating, soft towels on shelves around the room, and ample lockers. Five generous-sized showers are large enough to change in, and contain L'Occitane shampoo, conditioner and body wash. You'll find a fluffy white robe and slippers in your locker. A vanity island sits in the centre with hairdryers, straighteners (a nice touch), Temple Spa cleanser , toner and moisturiser, cotton wool pads and make-up remover.
The range of thermal facilities at Utopia Spa is top-notch. We particularly loved the 15-metre swimming pool with imposing Grecian columns, contemporary black mosaic tiles, and glinting lights. A large circular hydrotherapy pool at one end of the pool has bubble jets and swan-neck fountains. The separate hot tub has six seats and is wonderfully hot and bubbly. Several loungers are positioned around the pool, while spa butlers are on hand to take your drinks orders.
Step outside to the beautifully manicured Zen garden which has a second Jacuzzi -- this one raised. A quirky barrel sauna in the garden, seating four to six people, is a real treat for sauna lovers. The private hot-tub area is behind a door, where four small hot tubs are set on wooden decking. Each has a couple of chairs and a small table beside it.
In the relaxation room, smart reclining beds have plenty of snuggly blankets. Draw the heavy curtains and fall asleep, or fling them open and marvel at the breath-taking views of the Sussex countryside. Help yourself to glossy magazines and a selection of hot or cold drinks.
If you like a little fitness with your spa, try the spacious, modern gym.
Tell us about the treatments
We had an ila Chakra Wellbeing treatment (115 minutes; £175), designed to balance body and mind using seven blended essential oils.
Emily, my therapist, rubbed a Himalayan salt scrub over my body, and worked it well into my hands and feet. She suggested that I shower off the scrub using only water to allow the oils in the scrub to stay on my skin.
A lovely back massage followed using hot herb poultices. These were nicely warm, and Emily rolled and held them over the tense areas of my body. Emily held her hands over key areas and made small circular motions to help disperse negative energy.
I was now very relaxed and could only just manage to turn over for the facial. Emily did a cleanse and a massage, especially along my jawline and over my cheekbones.
The final stage of the treatment is Shirodhara, or the pouring of oil onto the "third eye" on my forehead. I have had this treatment in India and confess I did not enjoy it. I felt I was drowning in oil and had to ask them to stop. Emily had a much more careful way of doing it. She poured the oil very gently on my forehead and in lines out, along and into my hair. I quickly realised I was in good hands, so relaxed and enjoyed the sensation of the flowing oil releasing tension in my head. The oil is quite heavy and contains St John's Wort, a herb that can be used to treat mild depression. It has a strong herby smell, so I was glad when Emily explained how to go about washing it out of my hair: Start by putting on neat shampoo, leave it for one minute, then shampoo as usual. It worked and was much easier than I expected.
Utopia Spa at Alexander House also offers ayurvedic-inspired massages, facials, wraps and scrubs. There are options for men and mums-to-be, and beauty finishing touches such as manicures, pedicures and even haircuts.
You can help yourself to a range of teas and snacks including dried fruits, sunflower seeds and tiny cakes in the spa lounge area.
If you visit for a spa day, you can eat in your robes in the Reflections restaurant just next to the spa. On sunny days, you can sit outside in the central courtyard. Choose a two-course lunch including salads, soups, paninis or a catch of the day. We had sea bream in lemon sauce followed by a strawberry mousse. Suitably light for a spa day but also full of flavour.
The fine-dining 3AA Rosette restaurant, AG's, is nicely grand with very good food and attentive waiters. It is an impressive room with huge grey and turquoise curtains, so worth dressing up for. My halibut in a crème fraiche sauce was fresh and tasty. My spa partner's venison with cherries and chocolate sauce was apparently so good, he would not let me steal even a tiny portion!
We loved / we didn't love
The outdoor hot tubs and sauna: A nice way of being out in the gardens and still keeping warm.
The accessibility: There is a lift to the lower spa floor and a loo and shower with seats and grab bars for anyone who is not totally mobile.
The "tree" theme: If you are staying in the hotel, ask for a room in the "tree" wing where the modern rooms are named after trees. The lift from this wing takes you down to the spa entrance, so you can come and go in your robes and slippers.
We didn't love
The limited number of seats in the changing rooms: At busy times guests may find it hard to find somewhere to sit down while getting dressed.
The lack of a private changing room, so shy guests have to use the generous-sized showers.
Who do you think would like it?
Romantics: You can book half an hour in a private wooden hot tub in among the trees, and the spa butler will bring you glasses of champagne to enjoy.
Water babies: There are three pools inside and the outside hot tub, so you can swim and lounge to your heart's content.
The overworked and over-stressed: After a particularly frantic couple of weeks, this spy had a brilliant night's sleep. The long healing massages, the warm waters in the spa, and the super-comfortable bed worked their magic.
What bubble rating did you give this spa?
Alexander House has a brasserie-style restaurant, Reflections. Afternoon tea is also available.
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.