If you’re after a luxury getaway in the country, without the long commute, Alexander House is the perfect retreat. This five-star, luxury spa hotel is somewhat a hidden gem, tucked away within 120 acres of countryside in West Sussex.
It’s just over an hour to commute from London, and a 10-minute taxi ride from East Grinstead train station. As you turn into a long, gravelled driveway, you pass beautifully, landscaped gardens before arriving at Alexander House. Naturally, I was looking forward to exploring this charming, Grade II listed building, as well as having some much needed rest and relaxation.
Alexander House dates back to the 17th century and holds an interesting history. It traces back to a Roman road that ran past the western boundary, with one stone from the boundary dating back to 1608. This prestigious stone now stands in the luxurious ‘1608 Champagne Bar’, which offers an array of 45 wines and 30 hand-picked Champagnes.
The manor was later purchased by the former Governor of the Bank of England in 1909, before being restored and renamed Alexander House Hotel in 1984. Since then, it’s seen many refurbishments with the addition of Utopia Spa, and the more recent Cedar Lodge Suites completed in 2015.
Within the main house, the interiors are a cross between contemporary-chic and classic, heritage style. Despite its opulent features such as marble columns, and gleaming floor tiles, it has a homely feel with sumptuous furnishings to sink into. Alexander House comprises 58 rooms, including stylish suites. It also has a plush champagne bar, several, dining rooms, a gym and more.
The Cedar Lodge Suites are adjacent from the main hotel. The predominantly glass structure is a stark contrast to the Grade II listed manor, and contains a mixture of garden suites, deluxe garden suites and duplex master suites. As you enter the building, your attention is immediately drawn to the vibrant pink sofa, eye-catching chandelier and giant horse feature to greet you. The luxurious staircase leads up to the suites, where I found my garden suite for the night.
Designed with a home-from-home feel, the spacious suite has a cosy lounge corner to relax in, as well as a comfortable bed to guarantee a good night’s sleep. It’s bijou dining area looks out to a south facing balcony overlooking the gardens, should you wish to dine al fresco. Decorated in a neutral colour scheme with bursts of bold colours, the suite looks sophisticated, yet homely. Of course, it also has mod-cons such as four mood lighting settings to set the mood, Smart TV, and a Bluetooth-enabled alarm clock for your favourite Spotify playlists.
Perhaps the showstopper was the free-standing bathtub taking centre stage behind the double doors. The spacious bathroom also had opaque double vanities, luxurious rainforest shower, and a selection of Templespa toiletries. What’s more, the glittering wall, and mood lighting served well to create a spa-like backdrop, making it hard not to run a bubble bath for a refreshing soak.
Alexander House is renowned for fine dining and boasts an impressive 3 AA Rosette restaurant and 2 AA Rosette dining space on site overseen by executive head chef Darrel Wilde. Reflections is an informal bistro style restaurant whilst AG’s, headed up by renowned chef Johnny Stanford offers a seven course tasting menu. There are also several elegant drawing rooms, a luxurious champagne bar and an array of terraces to soak in the scenery. And if you enjoy a good quality brew, you can even book your afternoon tea, complete with delicious cakes.
Dinner was served in the Reflections Restaurant, an informal setting that wraps around the courtyard. Its contemporary, warm interiors offers a laid-back and cosy ambience. Serving up a seasonal menu using sustainably sourced ingredients and local produce, the cuisine takes on a modern twist to British classics.
For my starter, my amicable waiter recommended the fig leaf and pumpkin seed praline, while I opted for the succulent grilled 40-day aged fillet with warm potato salad and herb butter for mains. With room for the tempting desserts, I happily devoured the 64% Manjari chocolate tart.
Overall, the cuisine was to be expected of a 2 AA rosette-restaurant, with the main focus on quality food, delicious flavours and presentation. Similarly, the delicious traditional English breakfast was a hearty start the next day.
Alexander House prides itself for offering ultimate relaxation, so I headed off to Utopia Spa, just a stone’s throw away from the Cedar Lodge Suites. Greeted by friendly staff, Utopia Spa offers a tranquil setting for a bespoke range of OSKIA body treatments, massage, facials and nail treatments. I was treated to a 55-minute, Signature Oskia face, scalp and shoulder massage, which was relaxing and left my skin hydrated. So much so, that I treated myself to the same Oskia beauty products in their in-house shop, to try and replicate the spa feeling at home.
Afterwards, I explored the other spa facilities favouring the therapy pool, which has personal, seated massage stations with high pressured jets of water to tackle any aches and pains. The spa also has a main pool, outdoor hot tub, private hot tubs, sauna, steam room and relaxation rooms. If you wanted the ultimate pampering experience, there is even a hair salon should you fancy a stylish cut. The spa itself is a lot smaller than other hotel spa facilities, but offers a tranquil setting with Roman-style stone columns, and mood lighting.
For those who want to take in the beautiful scenery and fresh air, explore the grounds with one of the country walks available (there are Wellington boots available), or hire a bicycle. If you’re feeling more active, you can play a game of tennis or croquet, and test your skills with the giant chess set on the grounds. Checkmate!
In a nutshell
Whether you want to escape to the country for some pampering, a romantic getaway or a fun weekend with friends, Alexander House and Utopia Spa makes the ideal sanctuary. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle, you can enjoy a perfect blend of relaxation, country walks, and fine dining located in a stunning landscape. In fact, with everything you need all under one roof, you’ll never have any reason to leave.
Garden Suites start from £580 bed and breakfast and the Renaissance Signature Oskia break at the Cedar Lodge costs £900 for two people.
Address: Alexander House & Utopia Spa, Turners Hill, East Grinstead, RH10 4QD
Phone: +44 (0) 1342 714 914