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Looking for somewhere special for a break with your partner but without neglecting your workout schedule? Alexander House is the perfect solution. This converted 18th-century manor house, less than an hour on the train from central London and 20 minutes from the M25, is set in a spectacular 120 acres of idyllic Sussex countryside near East Grinstead. It has 39 luxury rooms and two restaurants – and, most importantly for our needs, also includes the Utopia Spa & Gym.
The huge log fires and towering ceilings are immediately impressive on entering the reception. The rooms, which have a mix of traditional and modern furnishings and range from luxury doubles to full suites, are equipped with flat-screen TVs, iPod docks and complimentary WiFi – the best suites also come with a Nespresso machine, perfect for a pre-workout coffee. We stayed in a spacious Traditional Suite with great views, a vast emperor bed, separate living room and a bathroom complete with roll-top bath and shower.
Exercise your rights
All residents have access to the gym, which is a modern bright space quite different from classic feel of the rest of the hotel. Its largest section is a cardio area with treadmills, bikes and a Concept2 rower, but it does also include a range of weight machines, benches and free weights for a full-body workout. There’s also a large studio space where fitness classes are on offer throughout the day and outdoor tennis courts in the hotel grounds.
My visit coincided with my final workout session before the football season kicks off, and I managed a satisfying HIIT session which left me more than ready for my opening game. Feeling like you’ve kept your fitness plan going makes any spa trip even more rewarding.
Suitably drained, I headed to the subterranean Utopia spa to meet my wife. It’s built in the style of an Ancient Greek bathhouse with lots of marble and granite and huge columns surrounding the indoor pool. The hydro pool helps remove any aches and pains before a dip in the trip one (or both) of the two hot tubs. There are also 25 treatment rooms, with three double rooms for couples’ treatments. We went for the Mediterranean Marinade, a facial designed to soothe away any daily stresses leaving you relaxed and ready to hit the ground running – a real winner with my wife. I also had one of Utopia’s signature treatments, Total Harmony; it’s mainly a relaxation treatment, although the use of hot stones is said to help your muscles recover from training too.
The hotel offers two restaurants, AG’s and Reflections. We ate in AG’s, a 3-AA rosette fine dining restaurant with two menus: an eight-course tasting menu showcasing the best of creative chef Mark Budd and his choice of southeast England’s finest ingredients, or the smaller but still varied A La Carte menu. We opted for the latter and were not disappointed. A selection of canapés and an amuse bouche of beetroot panna cotta with walnuts and blue cheese keep us busy while the team prepared my crab and mackerel. Presented like a picture, this was a delicious, lighter starter with a tang (plus a great way to get some omega 3s from oily fish) while my wife’s scallops were just as good.
We could not resist the temptation of sharing the beef Wellington (supplied by the nearby Woodlands Farm). This huge portion of protein-packed dry-aged beef is so impressive you’ll be able to forgive yourself for indulging in the pastry wrapping. The menu provided a couple of fairly fitness-friendly desserts: a banana and toffee soufflé topped with oats, for example, while the chocolate tree stump is full of 70% dark chocolate and served with low-fat lime sorbet. However, we took the opportunity to sample the vanilla panna cotta with pineapple granita. You can’t be strict all the time.
Luxury doesn’t come cheap, of course, but if you’re looking for the perfect getaway it really is worth splashing out. Alexander House’s gym has everything you could need for a solid workout and the Utopia spa is the absolute pinnacle of relaxation. And even if you’re tempted away from your eating plan by the mouthwatering food on offer in the restaurant, you can rest assured you’re still eating clean because of the quality of ingredients – no processed rubbish here. Even if it is only for a day, we highly recommend Alexander House.
To make a booking go to alexanderhotels.co.uk