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A hotel of two halves, Ockenden Manor is divided between an Elizabethan manor house and a modern spa wing both with guest rooms – the latter of which was our base for a lavishly spoiling night away. Set amongst eight acres overlooking the South Downs, the slick set-up – a sharp-lined, rust-coloured building – comes complete with indoor-cum-outdoor pool, steam, sauna, hot tub and treatment rooms with decadent spa suites on the floor above. Resident white fluffy cat Terrence does the rounds too – a live-in animal is always a measure of a good hotel in my book.

We whistled through a number of seasons in our one night stay, arriving in trench coats and spending the following day in swimwear by the outside pool.

Besides all the food, two key things I was craving in the late stages of pregnancy were large open space and clutter-free zones – something I can’t recommend enough for helping maintain a calm state of mind. A lot of ‘bits and bobs’ at home became casualties to my unforgiving clear-outs when nesting kicked in. The design of the spa suites couldn’t have been better suited to my headspace; large and open with bi-folding doors onto both the bathroom and terrace, plus generous sized beds with marshmallow-soft pillows. Rooms boast large tubs and vast showers making even me feel small in my 38th week of pregnancy.

Our particular stay was a Babymoon Break in partnership with luxury maternity brand Jem + Bea. The bump and I indulged in some Sunday afternoon pampering: starting with half an hour’s flotation therapy in an Isopod followed by a pre-natal massage. I couldn’t quite envisage how it was going to work since it was a struggle to get my third trimester shape into a comfortable position at the best of times. But after my lovely therapist set me up in a recovery-like position, the rest followed and aching limbs (including a ‘mass of matted muscle’ in my calves where I’ve been getting cramp at night) were soothed. The stay also included a Jem + Bea changing bag, which I’ve used every single day since Kit arrived and has become my replacement handbag.

Whether you’re eating from the traditional cuisine menu in the main hotel or the modern health-conscious offering spa-side, food is a force to be reckoned with. Highlights included easy-on-the-eye beet, mackerel and horseradish starters, melt-in-the-mouth chocolate nemesis and the smoothies in the spa.

Our stay felt far longer than 24 hours and definitely did me a world of good both physically and mentally before the next chapter of life began…

This was a press stay. Thank you to Ockenden Manor for having us.


Covering life and style in London, reviewing dog-friendly travel 

with my miniature schnauzer Luna and interviewing influential movers and shakers. Formerly Vogue + Tatler.

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