Bringing people together in stunning woodland, Kingdom in Penshurst has a wealth of well-being activities that can be enjoyed every day of the week. Grace Corcoran headed to this picturesque ancient woodland to discover more…
Set off the beaten track in stunning woodland, Kingdom in Penshurst provides a hub of nature, wellness and creativity just a few miles from Tunbridge Wells.
A destination spot for those wishing to unwind, you could easily spend a whole day here, with various walks, cycle routes, yoga classes, art exhibitions, a café and more on offer.
Created after the destruction of The Great Storm in 1987, the wooden clubhouse is at the heart of Kingdom and was built from the area’s fallen trees.
Bought and transformed in 2015 by the I’ll Be Mother group, who also own The Beacon in Tunbridge Wells and The Swan Chapel Down, ‘The Clubhouse’ – as it’s known – is a four-story timber and glass structure, hosting visitors for brunch, co-working, wellness activities and weddings.
As Pablo Picasso once said: “Every act of creation begins with an act of destruction.”
When I arrive at Kingdom one crisp November morning, there is a group of people pushing themselves in an outdoor fitness class, yogis in various poses in the purpose-built studio and the café is full with friends catching up over coffees and enjoying the 360-degree views across the countryside.
A trip to the forest spa
My boyfriend Seb and I loop our way around the grounds, covered in vibrant auburn autumn leaves and find our way to the forest spa. Tucked away in the 13-acre forest, The Hot Box Co’s sauna, cold water plunge and hot tub is yet another activity Kingdom offers to visitors seeking to unplug themselves from the busyness of life.
As it’s our first sauna-cold plunge experience, our host Jack first recommends the best course of action for feeling the full benefits of the session. He advises us to heat up in the sauna first before braving the ice bath and then repeat this process.
Said to boost energy, improve circulation, reduce inflammation and muscle soreness along with a whole host of mental health benefits, the cold plunge wellness trend has taken off in the last few years in the UK and we are game for trying it out.
We start in the sauna, which has a beautiful view out on to the forest. We can hear Jack adding coals underneath and the heat begins to build. After 20 minutes we have both worked up a sweat, which means it’s time to brave the dip.
At 14 degrees, the temperature of the water leaves me breathless after submerging my body and head under. The chill of the water never feels comfortable, but it certainly wakes you up – the perfect morning energiser.
We repeat the combination a few more times, and each cold plunge gets easier. Feeling invigorated, we head to the wooden hot tub to relax. As we come to the end of our 90-minute experience, we take in the spectacular woodland views as the wind blows through the trees.
The setting lends itself perfectly to a romantic woodland date, having fun with friends or meeting new people. The Hot Box Co offer community and private options, starting from £17. Seb reports his muscle pain has alleviated and I feel happy, energised and ready for a massage…
A moment to relax
Later I meet with Joleene Gonzales, founder of nature inspired well-being and events company, Find Your Wild, who offers a range of treatments along with a team of holistic experts.
Qualifying as a holistic massage therapist in June 2022, Joleene converted her family’s vintage caravan into a cosy, wood-lined therapy room and so the ‘Holistic Hut’ was born.
She welcomes me into the hut, which is nestled under the silver birch trees just a stone’s throw away from the Clubhouse. The cosiness and spa aromas provide some respite from the rain that has started to fall.
I was treated to The Blue Lotus Flower Experience – a short meditation, full body massage with the Blue Lotus oil and followed by a cup of Blue Lotus tea.
Rumoured to be favoured by Cleopatra for its magical skin enhancement powers, The Blue Lotus Flower is reported to offer many transformative benefits, both physically and spiritually.
“The Blue Lotus Flower offers a deep sense of well-being and peace and most clients report feeling uplifted and peaceful after a treatment,” Joleene explains to me, before leading me through a meditation.
Feeling calm and ready to be pampered, Joleene wraps me in the heated blanket and begins the deeply relaxing massage treatment, working through the knots in my back and taking my mind off any immediate worries.
Previously working in events, Joleene has fused her experience with wellness to create a series of well-being events in Kingdom’s enchanting grounds.
“Starting from the beginning of February next year, we will be launching a series of nature infused, conscious events,” explains Joleene when we chat post my treatment. She tells me these will include Menopause Awareness Fire Circles, Foraging for Plant Medicine, Drum Birthing workshops, Ecstatic Dance events and various Divine Feminine Empowerment experiences.
“We are also putting on a conscious micro-festival at Kingdom on Sunday March 24, 2024,” adds Joleene.
Finishing with a cup of Blue Lotus tea, my massage experience exceeded all expectations – my aches healed and my mind clear, I feel well rested after the perfect day spent at Kingdom.
Find The Hot Box Co, the Holistic Hut and more at thiskingdom.co.uk.