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Poppinghole Farm Spa

Ramp up the relaxation on a spa day with your own cottage base included

It’s a frustrating feature of many day spas, that no matter how swanky the pool or treatment rooms, the changing area often has all the glamour and privacy of your local gym.

Not so at Poppinghole Farm Spa at Robertsbridge, where slipping into your robe and slippers or out of a wet swimsuit doesn’t mean shifting awkwardly in front of an over-stuffed locker – in fact you get a whole cottage to yourself! What a brillant idea.

I booked in for one of the current Xmas spa day packages (sadly all sold out for 2019 – get in quick for next year) which add a festive spin to the sort of package you can book year-round.


My husband and I were first shown to our cottage which was to be our comfy base for the day. I virtually squealed with delight at the cosy Christmassy feel. With a wood burner, squishy settees and sunlight streaming in through the floor to ceiling windows, even without the tree and decorations it would feel like hygge central.

It was also really practical, being able to make a tea or coffee (real milk provided) in the kitchenette whenever we fancied and when it came to lunch time, it felt a touch decadent having the meal as room service at the cottage table rather than trooping in robes to a communal restaurant.

After lunch snooze?

From the cottages it’s just a few metres into the spa opposite and despite being on a working farm there’s no mud – it’s paved here, so you could go in the slippers and robes provided.

Food & drink

I wasn’t expecting too much from a spa lunch at a site more set up for self-catering but the portions were generous and everything beautifully presented and perfectly cooked. In a fit of early Christmassy-ness (and because we’re doing the hosting come the day itself) we’d ordered the nut roast with all the trimmings (turkey roast or chilli salmon were among other options).

The roasties were spot on and there was a lovely array of perfectly al dente other veg. I even ate the sprouts!

I then spent the afternoon picking at the cheeseboard I’d ordered for afters, which would have been plenty for two.

My husband meanwhile ate a chocolate pudding with ice cream in his robe, like an actual kid at Christmas!

We also had a bottle of local fizz and had been left mince pies and chocolate snacks. This certainly isn’t a puritanical kind of spa!

Spa and treatments

In the oak-framed spa complex, like the cottages, there’s good natural light, with French windows leading onto a terrace with more loungers.

There’s a decent-sized swimming pool, a plunge pool and hot tub, so it’s never likely to feel crowded. In fact the balance between those staying over on cottage breaks and those on spa days at Poppinghole is carefully managed so that no more than six people are in the spa at a time – unless they all know each other, having booked out the whole site.

Locals arriving for individual treatments don’t have use of the pool and hot tubs either if there are other day spa guests.

The treatment rooms have powder blue and pale green accents and pleasing details like white fairy lights.

It’s an Elemis spa and treatments include a vitamin-packed superfood pro-radiance facial, a frangipani body wrap and a fragrant Garden of England Rose Restore massage. There’s also a dedicated menu of more technical BIOTEC treatments plus men’s treatments and a range of Jessica and OPI manicures and pedicures.

Pedicure area

I opted for the Elemis hot stone massage which sounded a little like walking on Brighton beach as the pebbles were retrieved from the hot water they were soaking in and felt a bit like being ironed. It was super relaxing and moisturised my body besides.

From the suggested men’s treatments my other half had a 25 minute back massage to tackle his knots which he described as ‘brutal but good’. Afterwards we had a soak in the hot tub while horses clip clopped past on their way back to the stables. Back in the cottage, I found a sachet of Elemis moisturiser in the bathroom a useful touch for post pool.

Second cottage bedroom

It was rather a wrench to leave but we still had a goodie bag each with more Elemis treats (and chocolate) to take home.

Poppinghole has various packages to chose from, year-round (see below), with special twists at certain times. Look out for some tasty deals coming in January.


Good for: A romantic treat for couples, me time with a family member or best friend (Mothers’ Day, birthdays, anniversaries etc), or chilling in privacy on your own. Special occasion treats. Giving as a present. Groups of family and friends – who can book out the whole site.

Not so good for: If you’re looking for a detox, boot camp style spa this probably won’t suit – it’s all about relaxation and indulgence not celery sticks and sit ups. Likewise gym bunnies should note there are just a couple of machines. No dropping in to use the pool with your kids either – it’s for day spa guests only.

££ Choose a Bronze, Silver or Gold package – all are good value, on weekdays in particular, when a Bronze package day starts from £150 per person (£200 at weekends) including an hour’s treatment to the value of £70, a two-course lunch, glass of wine and use of a cottage and spa facilities.

The Silver (from £220) and Gold (from £260) packages incorporate two hours of treatments with Gold guests also receiving an extra hand or foot treatment, an Elemis gift and bottle of fizz.

There are also overnight and two night spa breaks.

Poppinghole Farm, Poppinghole Lane, Robertsbridge, East Sussex, TN32 5BN, 01580 830622

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