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The Birch Hotel, Selsdon

Katherine Brook explores the newly launched Birch Hotel, Selsdon

The Credentials

Being caved in the concrete jungle of London can sometimes feel a little claustrophobic. Especially if, like me, you crave the countryside and green, open spaces. Luckily, the famous Birch Hotel has opened a second site in South London, bringing all the nature I need. Just a short drive or bus from Croydon station (no, I didn’t know there was that much green space in Croydon either, but stick with me), is the Birch Hotel, Selsdon. The 200 acre estate used to be an 18-hole golf course, but is now being rewilded. It’s one of London’s biggest rewilding projects, reviving the mediaeval farmstead that once stood at Selsdon, planting shrubs, trees, herbs and flowers. And not just for the beauty, but for their use – encouraging biodiversity, pollination and wildlife, as well as a food source.

The hotel itself is a grand building, a 19th-century mansion, boasting a brasserie, bar, gym, spa, lido, work area, and its latest addition, Elodie restaurant by Lee Westcott – the pinnacle of Birch, showcasing its ethos in everything from the food to the drink and the decor.


The hotel has 181 rooms, varying in sizes from twins to doubles and family rooms.

Award-winning furniture designer, maker and environmentalist Sebastian Cox has cast his magic on the Birch Hotel and has designed bespoke furniture for the bedrooms, suites and communal spaces. The decor is chic and colourful, working in harmony with the traditional characteristics of the building.

Our large double room looked over the patio and front lawn, the afternoon sun streaming through the grand windows. The bed was huge – I could roll over multiple times and still not reach the other side. Most importantly, it was comfortable, too. The bathroom had a bath/shower and came equipped with soap, shampoo and conditioner, and soft white towels – the essentials.

For refreshments, we were given a kettle, tea bags, coffee and sugar. The milk sachets were a little sparse (one oat and one regular milk). I would have rather fresh milk. There is no room service at the hotel, and once the restaurants close, there is nowhere to get snacks, so if you are someone who gets peckish outside of meal times, I’d recommend packing a few nibbles.


The main reason for my visit to Birch Selsdon was to visit the newly opened Elodie restaurant. Elodie serves a 6-course tasting menu, plus a couple of snacks (£69pp), which comes with an optional wine pairing (£49) – we opted for the wine pairing, of course.

The concept of Elodie follows that of the hotel’s ethos. They focus on seasonal, local ingredients, and where possible use foraged herbs and plants from the estate to create syrups, sauces and much more. We enjoyed a unique aperitif, sweet and floral, which they had made in-house before dinner… you could certainly taste the outdoors!

The first two snacks came in the bite-sized form of smoked cod roe, wild garlic capers and marigolds, plus a fancy layered potato with garlic purée. The former was my favourite; I found the potato a little bland.

Our first wine was an Italian Gavi, which was paired with the house-made IPA sourdough (served warm) and a marmite butter. I’m a sucker for good bread and salty butter, so this was a standout course for me – yes, I do count bread as a course.

The following courses included Cornish crab and Heritage tomato; grilled courgettes with turnip, grape, sorrel, and elderflower – the sweet yet slightly acidic juicy fruits were a great touch; Herdwick lamb, with green olives, runner beans and fermented leeks, which was succulent, tender and full of flavour; and to finish, English Strawberry, a soft, light scone-like cake, topped with a light vanilla spiced custard and strawberries. I’m not usually a big fan of desserts but I had to restrain myself from licking the plate clean – the wine pairing was also a perfect match.

Guests can also dine in the Brasserie, where food is available all day. Breakfast is also served here. We dined on the patio, under the warm morning sunshine. We arrived at 10:45am (breakfast is ‘served’ until 11am), at which point we were told breakfast was finished, the coffee and juices put away… but we could sit down and they’d serve us anyway. Funnily enough, about eight other tables then joined us. The food came quickly, scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, a granola bowl and a croissant each, but we waited about 35 minutes for our coffees, as did everyone else…

Out & About

This is a hotel you come to stay at. There’s so much to do within the grounds, classes to attend, and activities to participate in. Choose from yoga, pottery, hiking, running, playing giant chess or badminton under the sun, or even hit the brand new gym, furnished with the latest equipment. If you’re after something more relaxing, the hotel also offers massages alongside other treatments, and there’s even a 1920s-style heated lido.

For some downtime, grab a beanbag on the terrace, a book and perhaps a glass of wine – although the music is quite loud.

The Crowd

I visited Birch over the Bank Holiday weekend, so it was very busy with lots of families. I imagine during the week it attracts more people who are travelling for work or those who use it as an ‘office’. Alongside the families, there were also lots of couples, enjoying romantic breaks.

The Worst Thing

The hotel was on its soft launch when I visited, and unfortunately, it showed. There seemed to be a slight lack of communication between the staff, especially around meal times, and also the warm, welcoming feeling was a little amiss. There was also an ‘adult play’ pop-up shop (literally soft toys and empty boxes of food), where you’re meant to use your imagination and play like a child. It was weird.

The Best Thing

I absolutely loved my visit to Elodie, as well as the bar next to it. The staff in both of these locations were incredibly welcoming – the drinks were fab too.

The Details

Birch Hotel is a great escape for those living in London, with its vast green spaces and great restaurants – Elodie is ideal for celebrating birthdays and anniversaries.

For me, it did feel more like a members club than a hotel. It was created for the community, for everyone to enjoy, big or small. I wouldn’t call it a peaceful escape but it’s definitely a welcoming space for families and creatives. In fact, if you’re away on business and find yourself in the area, this is the ideal hotel!

0203 953 3000