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By Katie Wilson

There aren’t many hotels 30 minutes from central London that make you feel as if you’re at a grand country estate, but Birch Selsdon has nailed it.

This is the second lifestyle and members’ club hotel from Birch, who are making a name for themselves by transforming properties on the outskirts of the capital into cool country retreats, that make for a quick getaway in the week or at weekends.

The first Birch opened in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire in 2020, while the second debuted in Selsdon, Croydon in summer 2023. Whether you choose north or south, both have stylish bedrooms and interiors, food from award-winning chefs, kids are catered for in their Birchlings clubs (plus adults-only areas), and there are heated outdoor swimming pools for year-round use.

Members and hotel guests can also access the gym, fitness classes and co-working spaces. While workshops, ranging from pottery and printmaking to foraging walks and wine tasting are available to book to all, as are the restaurants.

The Boutique Handbook checked into Birch Selsdon for the night and were one of the first to try the tasting menu at newly-opened restaurant, Elodie.

Birch Selsdon Hotel Review

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Birch Selsdon lobby
The stunning lobby area. Credit: Adam Lynk

Birch Selsdon has plenty of car parking space if you are driving, but be green and go by train if you can. East Croydon is the nearest station and there is a waiting cab rank for the 10-minute journey to the hotel. You can also go to West Croydon station and grab an Uber, which is around a 12-minute taxi ride.

Driving up to the hotel feels quite grand as you approach the gothic manor building, which has been a private residence, golf cub and even a courting spot for Henry VIII over the years.

But the wow factor starts when you step through the green awning entrance and clap eyes on the beautiful lobby area. We were awed by the ornate ceilings at Birch Selsdon, so don’t forget to look up.

Care has been taken to preserve original features like stained-glass windows, vintage fireplaces and parquet floors. Abstract artwork, fun but stylish decor, and comfy nooks and seating areas throughout mix old and new to create a cool and modern aesthetic you’ll want to relax in.

THE ROOMS

Birch Selsdon bedrooms
A Suite in the main house. Credit: Adam Lynk

There are 181 rooms at Birch Selsdon, ranging from spacious doubles with meadow views to sweeping suites. Like everywhere else in the hotel, they are stylish and fun.

Kids will love the bunk beds in the family rooms, in their own separate wing of the hotel, with private outdoor seating areas and plenty of space for little ones to run around and play games like super-size chess and snakes and ladders. It’s also an easy fairy-lit walk to and from the lido.

Adults may prefer to stay in the main house, where rooms have a more grown-up feel with huge beds, sofas and dressing tables and sculpture-like furniture that is functional but pleasing to the eye. While this isn’t a hotel where you’ll find freestanding baths, rainfall showers are in the modern, tiled bathrooms. Toiletries are their own Birch creations.

Every room has a Roberts Radio and Allpress coffee machines, plus carbon-negative light cork flooring, recycled linen curtains and furniture made out of wood from the 200-acre grounds. Dog-friendly rooms are also available.

FOOD AND DRINK

Vervain restaurant at Birch Selsdon
All-day dining restaurant Vervain. Credit: Adam Lynk

Michelin-star chef Lee Westcott is in charge of the food at Birch Selsdon across their all-day dining restaurant, Vervain, and tasting menu restaurant, Elodie, open in the evenings.

Breakfast is served until 11am in Vervain, the perfect spot to watch that magical morning light shine through those gothic windows. If it’s a nice day you’re welcome to take your Full English (£21), Sausage breakfast Muffin (£9) or Granola (£8) out onto the terrace. They also serve fresh juices and supercharged smoothies by EXALT to get you set up for the day.

Dishes like Tomato and Burrata (£12), Braised Hispi Cabbage (£18), Dexter Beef Burger with skin-on fries (£18 ) and Bavette Steak with sweet potato (£22) are served until 10pm. On Saturdays, brunch is from 12pm to 4pm. Get a sandwich, salad or main with two drinks and a dessert for £28pp. Sundays are for roasts, ranging from £18 to £24. Kids’ roasts are £12.

Elodie restaurant at Birch Selsdon
A tasting menu is served in Elodie. Credit: Adam Lynk

For fine dining, book a table at Birch Selson’s flagship farm-to-fork restaurant, Elodie, which serves a five-course tasting menu that is well worth the £69pp price tag. It can cater for veggies, vegans and other dietaries on request.

Open from 6pm Wednesday to Saturday, Elodie is a child and pet-free part of the hotel, and has a mix of table and banquet seating that gives slight jazz club vibes, and again has a beautiful ceiling.

Order a cocktail expertly-made with ingredients foraged from the grounds. We’d recommend the Avalon Apple Bellini (£13). Food is melt-in-your-mouth, but not overly fussy and was just enough to feel full but not stuffed by the end, leaving room for more wine. And trust us, the wine is good here.

The tasting menu changes with the seasons, but when we visited we were treated to a bite-sized Summer Green Bean Croustade, Cornish Crab, Grilled Courgettes, Herdwick Lamb and English Strawberry with cultured yoghurt and cherry blossom. We’ve got two words for the chef: Bravo, Westcott. Wine pairing can be added for an extra £49pp.

Birch Selsdon Bar
The Meadow Bar leads out to the terrace. Credit: Adam Lynk

For drinks, head to the vintage-style Meadow Bar, open daily from 7am for juices, coffees and something stronger as the day goes on. This leads out to the light-filled Orangery and pretty parasol-dotted terrace with a mix of beanbag, table and lounge seating overlooking the vast grounds. There is also a dimly-lit lounge area next to Vervain full of secret snugs you can retire to with a nightcap.

If you visit on a weekend, grab late night drinks in the adults-only Angelica bar, which is also a pet-free zone. Note it is only open on Fridays and Saturdays. Meadow Bar stays open as long as Vervain restaurant in the week (around 10-11pm).

EXTRAS

Swimming pool Birch Selsdon
The outdoor swimming pool. Credit: Birch

Birch Selsdon has just opened a 25-metre outdoor swimming pool, which is heated so can be used year-round. This Art Deco-inspired space has towels at the entrance, so there is no need to bring your own or one from the room, plus a poolside bar, which also does food. You can swim from 9am until sunset. On weekends, you’ll find DJs spinning the decks.

Fancy playing a game? The hotel has its own Arcade Room, but you need to ask reception for access. It is also home to one of the biggest rewilding projects within the M25. There are plans to reintroduce more roaming livestock to the area (it is gated) and continue to cultivate the land that already has a kitchen garden, wildflower meadow cut-flower garden.

The original Birch hotel in Hertfordshire offers spa treatments and has a cinema screening room, so that could be on the cards for Birch Selsdon in the future.

OVERALL VERDICT

Birch Selsdon is a cool, countryside retreat out the outskirts of London that feels like you’ve travelled much further to get there. Expect good food and wine, extras like the heated outdoor swimming pool and creative workshops, plus stunning interiors. The best thing of all is it comes at a reasonable price. It’s available to book for single night stays, but book a ‘Weekender’ from £282 and stay Friday, Saturday, and get Sunday night free.

Prices start from £107 a night

*Since this review was published Birch has gone into administration

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