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 a spa garden with outside hot tub.
What's on offer?
Staff greeted us, took our luggage and showed us to the spa reception, which consists of 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 treatment rooms-- of which there are 25 -- are up a spiral staircase on the first floor.
The spacious and well-equipped changing rooms have some seating, soft towels 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 and toner, cotton wool pads, tissues 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, 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 was wonderfully hot and bubbly on our visit. Several loungers are positioned around the pool, while spa butlers are on hand to take your drink orders.
Step outside to the 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. You'll find a private hot-tub area behind a door; inside are four small hot tubs set on wooden decking, with two chairs and a small table beside each one.
In the relaxation room, 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 and the daily classes.
Tell us about the treatments
We tried the Manipura Full Body massage (85 minutes, £130).
Emily, my therapist, met me upstairs in the spa lounge and led me to a spacious treatment room. She invited me to sit on a chair and talked me through the next 85 minutes: exfoliation, shower and massage using hot poultices. The name Manipura, she explained, refers to the body's third chakra (the solar plexus) and is where we hold our tension; the treatment aims to unblock the chakras and release tension, focusing on the lower back and stomach.
Emily began by exfoliating my body using a Himalayan crystal scrub to "cleanse the lymphatic system". After a quick shower, I settled down for the massage, lying face down on the treatment bed. Emily put geranium and rose oils in the warm poultices -- both fragrances which I love -- and massaged the back of my legs and my lower back.
After I turned over, Emily used the same poultices on my stomach, placing them just under my ribs. The result was an unusual combination of tension and relaxation; my breathing became irregular and shallow before slowing right down. By the end of the treatment, I was deeply relaxed and struggled to wake up. The treatment is supposed to help restore balance and leave your mind and body sparkling. I'm not sure I sparkled exactly, but I did have the best night's sleep I have had in a long time.
Utopia Spa at Alexander House also offers ayurvedic-inspired massages, facials, wraps and scrubs. There are options for couples, men and mums-to-be, as well as beauty finishing touches such as manicures, pedicures and even haircuts.
If you visit for a spa day, you can eat in your robe in the Reflections restaurant just next to the spa. On sunny days, you can sit outside in the sheltered central courtyard; it was so sunny on our visit, we felt like we were in the Med. Spa day guests can choose a two-course lunch with salads, soups, paninis, or a catch of the day on the menu. We opted for sea bream in lemon butter sauce which was fresh and light. You can also indulge in an afternoon tea complete with scones and jam and a glass of fizz.
If you are staying overnight, get dressed up and head to the rather grand 3 AA Rosette restaurant, AG's. Waiters served us an "amuse bouche" with pre-dinner drinks and several taster dishes before the main meal. We both tried the crab to start and agreed it was delicious. For mains, my partner opted for the fish, while I enjoyed a more indulgent veal in a cream sauce. For dessert, we shared a delicious strawberry soufflé; worth the 20-minute wait while it was freshly baked.
We loved / we didn't love
The customer service: Nothing was too much trouble for the spa staff who replaced towels and robes as needed. They even offered to supply items you might have forgotten such as hair gel or dental kits, and to launder your swimming togs if needed.
The range of holistic treatments: Our stressed-out Spa Spy felt her treatment was as much "therapy" as "beauty" and helped her re-charge her batteries.
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 private hot-tub area: While we loved the garden with wooden decking and four hot tubs, it could do with a bit of cheering up.
The lack of a private changing room: Shy spa-goers may struggle with the set up in the changing rooms.
Who do you think would like it?
Water babies: Utopia Spa has three pools and a hot tub, so you can swim and lounge to your heart's content.
The over-worked and over-stressed: After a particularly frantic couple of weeks, we had a full night's sleep; the long massage, warm waters 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.