Birch Selsdon – Review
Earlier this year Birch introduced its Hertfordshire hotel’s wild sister in Selsdon, South London. True to form, Birch has managed to take a 19th-century mansion and extract all the formalities and stuffyness of a countryside dwelling, turning it into something quite special. The style and ethos mirror the original hotel and members club, built on community, creativity, nature, and playfulness.
Leading interior design and architecture firm A-nrd, along with furniture designer and environmentalist, Sebastian Cox have transformed this building into something to behold. From the moment you enter the reception, the awe-inspiring decor is quite something, and you can’t help but marvel and admire the contemporary pastel hues and warm tones, juxtaposed with original gothic features.
Only a 15-minute train journey from London Bridge or Victoria to East Croydon station, and then a 10-minute taxi ride. The hotel is surrounded by 200 acres of rolling, unkempt countryside, home to Birch’s long-term rewilding project, which aims to return the land to its natural state. Go for a wander and you might just bump into a roaming deer.
There are 181 rooms at Birch Selsdon, and the type of room depends on the size of your party. The rooms are minimal, encouraging guests to spend time around the hotel rather than sitting inside watching TV. Warm soft palettes, give you a feeling of calm when you do spend time there. The beds are huge and comfy, and the furniture is made out of wood from the 200-acre grounds, connecting the inside to the local environment. There are beautiful oak nightstands by Sebastian Cox and hand-blown recycled glass lights, made in collaboration with London-based Michael Ruh Studio.
Checking in with my partner and baby, we opted for a room located in the family wing. The family-sized rooms are super spacious, our room came with a travel cot and bunk beds, which are ideal for older children. In keeping with the wild theme, a door from the room opens out into a garden, which somewhat felt exclusive… it was the perfect spot to sit on the grass, bask in the sunshine, and feed our little one.
Food and drink
Birch Selsdon’s eateries include the all-day brasserie Vervain, one of two onsite restaurants led by Michelin-starred chef Lee Westcott. Upon entering you will no doubt marvel at the decor, marble top tables, terracotta-colored walls, rattan chairs, large leafy statement plants, and beautiful sweeping windows, framing the natural world outside and flooding the restaurant with light. We recommend the Smoked Angus for brunch, a beautifully tender sliced brisket, topped with mustard mayo and fried egg. The second restaurant is Elodie, a more up-market affair offering a five-course tasting menu for £69pp, at the time of visiting Birch, Elodie wasn’t open, so we didn’t have an opportunity to try it out.
For coffee in the day and casual drinking into the evening, The sunny orange walls of Meadows Bar connect Vervain to a beautiful conservatory, in turn leading out onto a grand patio where you can drink outside and gaze over the grounds. Meadow Bar stays open as long as the Vervain restaurant in the week (around 10-11pm).
Weekend visitors can grab late-night drinks in the more sophisticated adults-only, and pet-free Angelica bar. Guest DJs provide the evening’s soundtrack as you sip on a negroni or your favourite hand-crafted tipple. Note it is only open on Fridays and Saturdays.
Gym and wellness activities
It’s always worth checking in early to make to most of the activities and facilities that Birch has to offer. Members and hotel guests can access the gym, fitness classes, and free wellness classes for free.
During the warmer months, the art-deco-inspired lido is open, towels are provided, so there is no need to carry them to and from your room.You can have a swim or chill out with a drink from the poolside bar, with DJs spinning the decks on the weekends.
Unlike the Hertfordshire hotel, the co-working space here is only open to the members, a great space to work, take private calls in their booths, and take time away from the stresses of the office. However there are rumours that a new co-working space is currently in the works for hotel guests as well, so watch this space…
Guests and members can try their hands at pottery and screen-printing in the on-site studios, where art is used as a form of meditation and escapism. I enrolled in a beginners two-hour pottery in the morning, learning the art of how to hand build, it was thoroughly enjoyable and perfect to have some time to use my hands to get creative while enjoying my weekend break. To sign up for a class before your trip at Birch, visit their website to see what classes they have.
Birch Selsdon is a cool, countryside retreat out on the outskirts of London, where there’s always something to occupy your time, from wandering the natural world to fine dining, wellness, and pottery. Above all, it’s a place to connect with yourself and others.
Rooms at Birch (Selsdon) start from £119.00 per night, to book your stay visit www.birchcommunity.com/selsdon
Address: 126 Addington Road, London, CR2 8YA
Written by Rick Hartley
Photos courtesy of Birch