November/December  2005 





Entering the hotel feels like coming home to the luxurious house you’ve always dreamed of owning, with its many cozy lounges crammed full of overstuffed sofas.

aliffscourt Hotel and Spa is described in the company literature as an “extraordinary architectural fantasy”, a comment that visitors approaching the seemingly mediaeval manor house appreciate when they discover that construction only began on the site in 1927.

The sandstone house and outbuildings were created for Lord and Lady Moyne in West Sussex by Amyas Phillips, who searched the country for the appropriate materials to build with, even relocating entire buildings where necessary. The resulting manor is an elegant amalgam of salvaged doors, beams and stone from various properties dating back as far as the 13th century.

baliffscourt-602Entering the hotel feels like coming home to the luxurious house you’ve always dreamed of owning, with its many cozy lounges crammed full of overstuffed sofas. A walk in the beautiful Sussex countryside followed by afternoon tea next to the fire in one of these rooms is a perfect treat in the winter months.

I was greeted by the friendly receptionist and taken through a maze of corridors to my room, one of 39 in the hotel, all of which are individually designed. Behind the old, wooden door was a beautiful beamed room with windows on both sides, allowing views across the front and back of the grounds, but the first thing to grab our attention was the stunning four poster bed in the middle of the room. The two sofas, fireplace and gorgeous furniture added to the feeling of utter decadence. Just as exciting was the bathroom – it had two (yes, two) roll top baths as well as a shower.

I forced myself to leave the room so I could have a peek at the beach before dinner. Lavender edged pathways lead away from the house and I followed these, hoping to see some of the famous peacocks that perch in the trees at night, a habit that visitors are warned about to prevent parking under the main tree at the front unless they particularly enjoy cleaning cars.

baliffscourt-4The pebble beach is only a five minute ramble away, a peaceful alternative to the tourist traps nearby, making it a great place for walks and picnics. The hotel will provide picnic hampers to guests providing they are given 24 hour notice and can include the British favorite, cream tea, at £7.95 per person, or for the romantics there is a £60 hamper for two containing smoked salmon, prawns, smoked trout, antipasti, homemade scones, strawberries and cream, and a bottle of house champagne. Sandwiches, salads, platters and cakes are also available.

I returned to the house for drinks in the rose garden before being led to our table in the courtyard for dinner. There is a restaurant inside but as it was a clear summer’s evening it seemed a shame to be indoors, and it appeared that most of the other guests agreed with me, as the courtyard’s nine candlelit tables quickly filled up with a mixture of couples and families (highchairs are provided).

Dinner is a three course meal costing £43.50, with six starters, six main courses (a vegetarian menu is also available) and desserts under the starlit sky with the sandstone walls of the courtyard glowing a golden yellow under the lights from the leaded windows.

The spa is a purpose built building set near the main house, and has been open since September 2003. It is stylish with plenty of glass to create a modern, light building, as Andy Barge, the spa manager explains: “In this class of hotel a luxury spa area is expected. If you are going to do it, then you might as well do it properly and make it a really good one.”

baliffscourt-2There are clear, Perspex chairs to swing in by the entrance and a large reception desk where one of the six front-of-house staff is always available to greet and look after visitors. The reception has huge windows looking through to both the indoor swimming pool, complete with an integrated spa pool, and the outdoor one. A gym leads off from the reception area and up some stairs there is a relaxation room that leads out to a balcony overlooking the outdoor pool.

The spa uses Temple Spa products, a locally produced range that is also sold through Harrods and American Airlines. My therapist informed me that Kylie Minogue also uses the products, and with her amazing skin that’s a great stamp of approval. Jane Iredale cosmetics have also just been launched at the spa.

I was led upstairs to a room with loungers where I was offered drinks and left to relax, then whisked back downstairs to the treatment rooms. The Med Float, £90, fits in with the spa’s philosophy of taking inspiration from the Mediterranean way of life. My therapist, Georgie Hales, explained what she planned to do and what the aim of the 90-minute session was, and then made sure that I was comfortable on the floatation table, which was like a warm water bed. My body was scrubbed from neck to toes with a mineral salt rub in order to exfoliate every last inch of my skin to prepare it for the mask. I had never had an all over body treatment before and had always wondered how easy it would be and whether I would fall off the table trying to contort myself. For those of you who are novices also, let me reassure you, it was effortless although this was certainly due to Georgie’s expertise rather than my flexibility, and not in the least bit embarrassing, another of my worries.

baliffscourt-3The scrub was removed with hot mitts and a yoghurt, cucumber, mint and lemon body mask that Georgie had made fresh that morning was applied, which smelt amazing. I was then wrapped up in the paper that had been rustling beneath me, and while I was cocooned I had the next part of the treatment, a facial. She cleansed my skin with Way to Go, then toned and finally moisturized me with Moisture Matte. A head massage then followed, which was blissful.

The mask was then removed and I was moisturized with Peace be Still, which was apt as I was very relaxed – the Med Float does create a feeling of having been relaxing in the sun for an hour or so. After getting back into my dressing gown I wandered through to the outside pool area to lounge in one of the hammocks that are dotted around.

My partner meanwhile had had the Vesper’s Drift Away, £45, a 55 minute top to toe massage, using essential oils. His therapist Kelly-Jo Andrews worked first on his back and shoulders before moving onto his legs. She then massaged his temples using Repose, an aromatherapy cream, and then focused on his head, which he said was an amazing feeling and something he’d happily book again.

Other treatments at the spa include an invigorating whole body massage called Matins: Fully Restored, which costs £45 for 55 minutes or £60 for 85 minutes; a 35 minute head, back and shoulder massage called Seated Siesta, £30; Footprints in the Sand, a 55 minute reflexology treatment, £45; River of Life, a massage based on lymphatic drainage to remove toxins and boost the immune system, £65 for 85 minutes; Outer Glow, a body polish using Mediterranean ingredients to soften and hydrate, £35 for 45 minutes; and I’ll be Back, £45, a 45 minute treatment where the back is cleansed and exfoliated before a mud mask is applied and a scalp massage is carried out. Nail, waxing and tanning treatments are also available.

baliffscourt-1The spa offers day packages; as Andy explains, “They start at £135 and include a light lunch such a salads, fish or meat platters, as well as use of all the facilities. We’ve also brought in a minimum spend of £100 so you can create your own day package, although lunch will be extra if you do that.” The facilities also include a steam room, sauna, jacuzzi and Californian hot tub, and the management points out that it is primarily for adult use, with children being restricted to two set time periods each day.

While I was there a helicopter landed on the hotel’s private helipad in preparation for MTV filming a pop star there later – this is a glamorous spa with a glamorous clientele, and so busy that the changing rooms are to be extended in time for next year in order to cope with the increase in numbers.

Room prices start at £275 for a small standard room and go up to £540 per night for the luxury king-sized or four poster rooms. This includes accommodation, three course dinner, breakfast, newspaper and VAT.

Baliffscourt Hotel and Health Spa

Climping, West Sussex BN17 5RW

Tel: +44 (0) 1903 723 511
Fax: +44 (0) 1903 723 107




© 2004-2006 Worldwide Spa Review Magazine