On the edge of the wilderness: Reynolds Retreat
It’s time to discover a whole new level of health, fitness and wellbeing – welcome to the unforgettable experience that is Reynolds Retreat.
by Samantha G
Sometimes you have one of those moments – you know the ones I mean – where you stop dead in your tracks and are overcome but what you see; your jaw drops and you just zone out staring, caught up in your own daydream of existence. Well, my first glimpse of the panoramic vistas, fantastically framed by huge floor-to-ceiling windows at the Reynolds Retreat was one of those moments; it is quite simply breathtaking.
The Retreat in Borough Green is the fourth spa-based offering, but the first dedicated retreat by the family-run Reynolds Group, which opened its Victorian restored and rejuvenated doors to its purpose-built home just last year. The Reynold’s concept of health, wellbeing and fitness (honed no doubt from the healthy performer mindset of its owner) is simple, and these days arguably necessary, however, its delivery here is quite frankly exquisite.
Easily accessible in its location just outside Sevenoaks, the beautiful building comes into view at the end of the lime tree lined driveway. Its entrance surrounded by well manicured gardens is just a few gravel crunching steps from the carpark which is cleverly positioned away from the main house, protecting those delightful garden views.
The refurbishment and rebuild here was very well done, leaving the existing character and structure of the main house and extending off to both sides creating purpose-built new wings, housing a state of the art two-story gym and fitness centre to the left, and a tranquil cutting-edge spa complex to the right. The central areas are home on the ground floor to a welcoming bar and lounge, where my guest and I had our first ‘that view’ experience, and upstairs to the therapy rooms, lounge and Waterleaf Restaurant. Every space is designed to harness that amazing view to the rear of the property meaning you can run, stand, sit and swim, up to the edge of nature.
And that nod to nature is harnessed further with the soft décor palate of greens, browns and beiges and natural stone throughout, but with an extra luxurious touch set off by decadent chandeliers which even make an appearance above the pool.
On arrival my guest and I were led to the bar area and needed no persuasion to take a seat at one of the comfortable sofas facing out of the windows. Open all day and providing a range of drink options, it was here that we had our first experience of the ‘superfoods’ that have been perfected by the retreat across their food and beverage offerings, all designed to aid your healthy mind, body and spiritual journey – this time in the form of super smoothies with ingredients such as kale, maca, wheatgrass and protein in abundance.
Suitably refreshed and keen to explore, my guest headed for the fitness complex, passing on the popular exercise classes and spin studio, he instead headed for gym. The intricate complex provided a mix of cardio and weight machines, free weights and even an infinity rock climbing wall.
Now on my own, I chose to head to the spa, where I whiled my time away taking full advantage of the huge steam room, a charming modern wood-clad sauna (again with ‘that view’,) foot spa benches with foamy citrus oil bubbles and the monsoon showers, complete with a ‘thunderstorm’ setting where hydrotherapy jets and sensory lighting transport you to your own rainforest experience. Further in I chilled out in the relaxation area with the solar heated reclining beds next to ‘that view’ allowing you to lie back and drift away. And last but in no means least, I took a dip in the infinity pool, where I could literally swim to the edge of nature, before taking advantage of the adjacent hydrotherapy pool with its massaging and reviving waterjets.
The spa area also has clever access directly to the second floor changing areas that lead right to the treatment and consultation rooms, where my guest and I met Taylor, our friendly, professional therapist for the day. Whilst my guest opted for the full body massage which competently worked away those muscular stresses and strains leaving him in a zen like state of relaxation, I happily indulged in the hour long body scrub which utlised fruit extracts and Decleor products to leave my skin buffed, silky and radiant.
After a brief respite in one of the two relaxation lounges, we were both more than ready for lunch and excited to try the carefully designed dishes on offer by head chef David Pigram and his team.
Heading to the second floor Waterleaf Restaurant, we were impressed by the clever split room design. Two main dining spaces have been created again making full use of those Weald views, and in doing so the areas become cosy and intimate, with small circular tables for two or four. Beyond this and adjacent to the kitchen is the Laurent Perrier Chef’s Table. A broad circular private dining experience where the pass is framed by a large picture window allowing guests to watch the kitchen in full action, sample the inspired dishes in full privacy and comfort, and of course wash down their lunch or dinner with a glass (or two) of bubbly.
Taking our own seats by the window (of course!) happily sipping on our glass of fresh hand-pressed apple juice, our gaze was only drawn from the rolling clouds and tree tops by the arrival of a small lacquered box. Inside was our amuse bouche: a small cube of bone marrow with capers and seeds. Its size belied its flavour as the meaty, juicy melt-in-the-mouth marrow gave way to its punchy caper side.
Soon after our starters appeared: my guest’s superfood choice was the crab bisque, rouille and spirulina oil; a thick creamy broth, with hints of coriander and a spicy kick to the delicate white flesh that perched upon a crisp thin cracker. I opted for the fried duck egg with slow-cooked leg, where delicate tender duck met with the rich soft orange yolk, mopped up with crispy toast ‘soldiers’.
Our mains entered with a theatrical fanfare, as the dome – to preserve its BBQ aroma – was lifted and my guest’s beef rib marked its arrival. The smoky, sticky beef fell from the rib accompanied by its rare steak, creamy mash and charred bbq sweetcorn. I tucked into a delicate strip of pork belly, flavoursome with an ultra crispy crackling, creamy mash and rainbow chard side.
A palate cleanser arrived and we were intrigued to discover a beetroot and aronia sorbet crumble with blackberries from the wild garden beneath the window. It was an interesting taste, earthy but wholesome and we devoured the lot whilst trying to pinpoint how we’d describe it.
And as it would have been rude not too, we opted for dessert too. My guest (on his superfood endeavour) plumped for the raspberry ketone soufflé – a warm, delectably smooth soufflé with a delicious crust and a sharp and sweet raspberry sorbet. Then it was my turn for theatrical entrances as my chocolate sphere was presented. The glistening chocolate orb sat on its chocolate soil, melted under the rich decadent pouring sauce to reveal rich ripe cherries, chocolate mousse and a moist chocolate sponge; not only clever but delicious too!
The Waterleaf is in fact a destination restaurant in its own right. Head chef David explained that he has a passion for wellbeing and health, which inspired his distinct menus utilising a range of superfoods combined with locally sourced, seasonal produce to create dishes that are not only flavoursome and delicious, but good for you. It is an extra added bonus for spa day guests to have lunch here included in the package.
With one final relaxation chair experience, another few lengths of the infinity pool and one last play in the monsoon rainforest shower, my guest and I (after another last look at ‘that view’, naturally) emerged from the Retreat, nurtured, refreshed, refuelled and inspired to book our next escape back to nature.
Quarry Hill Rd