Decent detox retreats in Sussex
The Quick Read: Simply Healing is a detox retreat centre in a sprawling 19th century Georgian mansion on the edge of the village of Rudgewick in rural Sussex and about an hour and 20 minutes from London. A genuinely supportive, nurturing atmosphere has been created by the motherly founder, healer Vivien Kay, and it specialises in personalised juice detox programmes, some of which focus specifically on weight loss and fertility enhancement. It’s smart but far from stiff or formal – the kind of place where you can happily slob about in your pyjamas. Therapeutic and pampering treatments are of a high standard, and staff are kindly and caring.
More on the detox programmes: The most popular offer is a 5 day Essential Juice Detox Plan which includes accommodation, your daily juices, broth, psyllium husk, bentonite clay and cleansing herbs, plus a colonic hydrotherapy, a colon massage, a deluxe detox foot treatment, a Thai foot massage and a full body salt scrub. You can add on additional treatments from a dizzyingly wide range – a one to one nutritional consultation, lymphatic massage and Indian head massage come especially recommended as extras. In addition, the retreat offers a Weekend Juice Detox Plan, 5 and 7 day inch and weight-loss juice detox plans, and a Fertility-enhancement Detox aimed at couples. Read a word from the queen on her retreat.
The two night Weekend Juice Detox Plan includes shared accommodation in a twin or king-size ensuite room, colonic hydrotherapy, deluxe detox foot treatment, full body salt scrub, all juices, broth, herbal supplements and teas, use of DVDs and CDs, power plate, chi exerciser, guided walks and optional meditation and nutritional talk. The 7-day Simply Healing Inch and Weight-loss Juice detox plan includes ensuite accommodation with a King-size or Double bed. Treatments include 3 Colonic Hydrotherapy sessions, a colon massage, detox fitness wrap, aroma algae wrap, full body salt scrub, hypnotherapy, holistic massage, thai foot massage, a one-to-one initial consultation, as well as guided walks, meditation and nutrition talk and all juices and drinks.
The extra treatments: We highly rate a healing session with Vivien (£100) and Florence’s Abdominal Sacral Massage. Her 90-minute nutritional consultation may seem pricey at £145, but the follow-up, a five-page written summary that is emailed to you, plus 2 email consultations, make it decent value. All the products in the detox treatment packages are paraben-free and therapists use a range called Biodroga (which hails from the German spa town of Baden-Baden). With regards to the facials, at present the Medic Skin, Green Tea Facial and Natural Lift Facial are paraben-free. Products used in the other facials contain, we’re told, very low amounts of parabens, around 0.1 per cent.
Exercise & other activities: If you’re a fan of gym-type equipment there are Reviver Plus Toning Plates, meant to aid weight loss and toning, as well as a curious device called a Chi Exerciser. You lie down and the machine rocks your body from side-to-side, and it’s said to aide the release of toxins. The walks in the surrounding countryside are of course glorious. There are also weekly meditation sessions, led by Kate or Vivien, and Florence gives nutritional sessions and talks.
More on the inside: The décor is quirky, arty and colourful, rooms are spotless and stylish and equipped with in-room TV, DVD and CD player and WIFI. We love the books, bewitching curios and candles in the reception and the big, light-filled living room where people hang out when not in their rooms or having treatments. Vivien is a keen traveller and has decorated the room with giant crystals from Madagasar, Egyptian statues, sculptures, ceramic pots made by women from a village in the Peruvian Amazon, and candles galore. Enjoy the sink-into-them sofas and tinkle on a grand piano. There’s also an airy conservatory overlooking the garden, and some eye-catching paintings scattered about the house including the Dorking-based artist Dorothy Carol Clayton.
More on the bedrooms: Each of the nine bedrooms is named after a colour – the idea was conceived as an aid to an early housekeeper who could never remember where she’d been! Jini’s pad, the Pink Room, was spacious, cosy and stylish with a double bed, matching coffee coloured silk duvet and pillows, pure cotton sheets and cappuccino curtains. Sun streamed in and the views over the garden were deeply restful. We ticked off all the mod cons: Widescreen TV, DVD and CD player, radio, radio, kettle. The bathroom was spotless and had a big, curvily shaped bath. The décor in each room differs a bit – the Gold room, for example, originally Vivien’s son’s room, has a poster of an opera singer on one of the walls.
More on the outside: Alliblaster House, a sprawling 19th century Georgian mansion, was originally built by an Argentine beef baron and the feel is very ‘country pile’. It’s reached via a tree-lined drive and set in nine acres of gardens, which offer sweeping views of the Sussex Downs in the front and woodlands in the back. One or two roe deer come here every year to breed, though on occasion large herds have passed through. Buzzards and herons can be seen flying overhead and a barn owl is often spotted. In the front there are lovely park-type benches and some loungers and chairs to sit on. Flowerbeds are dotted around the house and the walks in the surrounding countryside are a must.
Food and drink: The fruit and vegetables juices are freshly made and each is served in a pretty, differently shaped glass to create more of a ritual. One of our favourites was the white nectarine, apricot, plum and fig juice. Food sources are traceable; produce comes from Secrets, a local farm shop in Milford, and local farmers markets as well as Lee House Farm in Billingshurst, and Kingisher Watercress Farm in Abinger. Drinks include herbal teas and hot water with lemon.
Fellow guests: Career driven 30-50 somethings, lots of mums, men and women who are recovering from serious illness or are generally run-down, those who hate to fly, City types in need of an M.O.T., celebrities and, we are told, members of the Royal family (not just this one – Ed). If you’re a hardcore yoga-devotee or a fan of rustic and no-frills retreats, this may not be for you.
What’s lowly: The in-room toiletries on our visit contained parabens, a cause for concern on a detox break. We were told this was a blip owing to the housekeeper’s absence and that the Damana Organic Bath Line (certified by Ecocert and paraben-free) is what’s normally in place. But hey, it’s a minor quibble.
Getting there: Simply Healing is in Sussex on the outskirts of the village of Rudgewick and about 25 minutes from Horsham. They charge £20 for the round-trip journey from Horsham station (compared to single cab fare of £27) and round-trip pick ups from Heathrow/Gatwick are £75.
© Queen of Retreats
Reviewed by Jini Reddy