New Countryside Hotel Birch Selsdon, A Peaceful Haven And Rewilding Marvel Near London

Birch Selsdon, once an historic estate and golf course, covering 200 acres on the outskirts of London, is now a hip new hotel, a much anticipated followup to sister property Birch Cheshunt, which opened three years ago. It’s a great blend of classic and contemporary elements, providing a serene retreat, surrounded by natural beauty. Like the Cheshunt hotel, this peaceful escape from the city’s hustle and bustle is a short drive or train journey from London but feels like the middle of the countryside once you arrive.

The sprawling Victorian red brick building was first turned into a hotel in the 1920s and was quite tired by the time the Birch owners took it on in 2022. Just launched as a Birch hotel in summer 2023, the property has 181 guestrooms, a wellness space and outdoor pool, co-working facilities and two restaurants and bars. Outdoors, there are various well-marked hiking trails criss-crossing the 200 acres and plenty of tables, chairs and benches to relax or picnic.

Architecture and Ambiance

Birch Selsdon is the first hotel design project from Alessio Nardi and Lukas Persakovas of London based A-nrd studio. Alessio Nardi says that “the brief was very open, to create a very calming home-away-from-home environment that was also joyful and full of warmth.” Some of the furniture, including the bedside tables and timber reception desks in the entrance lobby, was made from trees harvested on the grounds. The design vibe is an appealing blend of old and new. The Snug bar has kept the wood panelled walls and added deep purples and blues while the Victorian dining room, now Elodie restaurant, has elegant modern furnishings. The contemporary furniture and custom made lighting in the guestrooms complements the large historic steel casement windows.


Most of the 181 bedrooms aren’t super luxurious as guests are encouraged to make full use of the common areas inside and out but they’re comfortable with great beds and high thread count linens, bright and airy, with big windows. There are a few nice design touches too like attractive bedside lamps.

Culinary Delights

Food is a major focus at both Birch properties and they each have well known chefs at the helm. At Cheshunt, The Zebra Riding Club and Valerie’s are led by chef Robin Gill. At Selsdon, Elodie and Vervain restaurants are headed by Chef Lee Westcott formerly of Typing Room (London) and Michelin starred Pensons (Herefordshire). Chef Westcott is also known to the public from his appearances on Masterchef, Great British Menu and Saturday Kitchen. Made with earth in mind, Elodie is Birch’s flagship restaurant and a focal point for the farm-to-fork ethos. A seasonally focused five-course menu offers the best of British Isles produce, uses foraged ingredients from the estate’s 200-acre rewilding project and showcases fresh goods from the on-site kitchen garden. The all-day dining British brasserie, Vervain, also serves breakfast for hotel guests.

Wellness, Relaxation And Nature

Wellness classes at Birch Selsdon include: outdoor yoga, pilates, circuit training, boxing and spin classes. Birch Selsdon is all about nature, offering foraging tours bird watching, forest bathing, a bat safari, therapy walks and more. There’s also a lovely heated pool with attractive red umbrellas and loungers.


Sebastian Cox, who also designed some of the furniture for Birch, developed a woodland management plan for the hotel’s grounds as well as a rewilding strategy for the former 18-hole golf course. Birch Selsdon is one of the most significant rewilding sites in the UK. Herbivores like cows have been reintroduce and coming soon, grazing pigs and ponies, which naturally distribute seeds and shape growing vegetation. The former fairways of the golf course will eventually become wetlands, while the sandy bunkers will attract small reptiles and other animals. Sebastian Cox says that the “concept for what we grow and rear at Birch (Selsdon) is to look past the Victorian and Edwardian dominance of the site and revive the mediaeval farmstead that once stood here….Everything we grow anywhere (including trees or shrubs we plant around the gardens) should have a use – for humans as food or pollination or for wildlife and biodiversity by being native and wild.”

Birch (Selsdon) in South London offers rooms staring from £140 per night.

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