By Chantal Borciani
There are few more soul-soothing things to do than escape the daily grind and ensconce in the country for a few days. A change of seasons can also prove the perfect time to carve out some time for peace and relaxation.
Less than two hours from south London Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa offers the Zen-tastic benefits of coast and country. Located in the picturesque coastal hamlet of Climping in Sussex, the hotel prides itself on providing guests with timeless service, elegant quarters and country house vibes next to the sea.
The hotel’s sweeping oak-dotted drive sets the tone for what lies beyond; a medieval-style main house flanked by a clutch of charming stone-built cottages, a 13th-century chapel, picturesque gardens, and a few resident peacocks roaming the grounds.
A start-of-the-art spa built in the style of a Sussex barn from natural green oak is a key attraction for Bailiffscourt guests and is set a couple of slippered footsteps from the main house.
The grounds are deliciously restful. The hotel’s inner courtyard is perfect for catching the early morning sun over breakfast, while the walled garden to the back of the house overlooks the fields and banks of rushes that lead down toward the sea and provides an idyllic place to while away the hours with a book or a cream tea.
Sea and spa
The spa, of course, plays a big part in Bailiffscourt’s restorative powers and boasts expansive indoor and outdoor pools, dreamy cocoon-like treatment rooms and a wide range of Temple Spa treatments – one of my all-time favourite spa brands. Its double-height exposed timber frame reception is flooded with light and floor to ceiling windows wrap around the indoor pool and Jacuzzi, bringing the ever-changing Sussex woodland into view.
The large outdoor pool is heated all year round and sits alongside a whirlpool hot tub. Loungers are set up on the surrounding lawn for sunbathing during blissful sunny days while indoors, a sauna and steam room provide warmth for aching muscles and a cosy relaxation room is perfect for a post-massage snooze.
Part country club, part dreamy country wellness escape, stresses ebb away as I recline poolside, watching swallows dart from tree to tree. There are six calming treatment rooms with heated water beds and My Drift Away full body massage uses a sumptuous blend of aromatherapy oils and much-loved Temple Spa products. The inclusion of the face and head massage in the treatment sequence was just the ticket for dealing with my pesky stress headaches and will be a delight for guests feeling burnt out.
Post-spa, there’s a croquet lawn, tennis courts and acres of parkland to explore, but we head for the beach to skim stones in the late afternoon light and the return to cuddle up in a fireplace snug and enjoy a hot chocolate.
And so to bed
Set in 30 acres, Bailiffscourt feels like a kingly mansion straight out of Wolf Hall – there’s even a secret underground passageway. Yet this historic house, complete with stone arches and flagstone corridors, actually dates back to the 1920s.
Built for Lord Moynes of the Guinness family and designed in 1927 by the antiquarian and architect, Amyas Phillips, the brief was to create a medieval mansion. Philips painstakingly sourced original stone, woodwork, doors, windows and fireplaces for the build and succeeded in creating a tranquil country retreat rooted in another era.
Thus, in spite of its relative new history, Bailiffscourt feels every inch an elegant country getaway. To call our accommodation a ‘Feature Room’ doesn’t really do it justice. The capacious suite comprises a living area with billowing sofa and views of the whimsical gardens and Sussex shoreline, an ensuite bathroom accessed via a divinely heavy oak door with a rolltop bath and cavernous walk-in shower, and a towering dark mahogany four poster bed fit for a king. Fling open the cast iron latticed windows and great gulps of fresh sea air rush in, and the sound of the waves on the shingle lullabies us to sleep every evening.
In the morning, after a decadent breakfast in the stately Tapestry restaurant, we pad over for another dip in the steaming outdoor pool before enjoying a manicure with views out to the gardens.
For a hassle-free weekend or R&R escape Bailiffscourt ticks a heck of a lot of spa-break boxes and its proximity to London means an overnight break is easy. For coast and country lovers, this should be on your list. If you have time for a midweek escape, we found the spa and pools blissfully quiet.