Birch in Cheshunt has been drawing Londoners just north of the city for creative escapes since it opened in 2020 and now the lifestyle brand has turned its attention to the other side of town. Birch Selsdon has opened its doors in Croydon, taking over what was the Selsdon Park Hotel, and as at the Cheshunt property, the Birch team has worked with the existing building, restoring and refurbishing the rooms rather than gutting the place and starting from scratch in an effort to minimise waste.
The 19th-century mansion is quite the building, home to 181 bedrooms, a co-working hub, two restaurants, three bars, activity studios for pottery and screen-printing, a wellness space and a range of communal areas from a snug to an orangery. There’s also an Art Deco lido and tennis court outside in the 200 acres of land, once a golf course and now one of London’s largest rewilding projects, led by maker, furniture designer and environmentalist Sebastian Cox. The purpose of all this? To provide the ultimate escape where you can swap the rat race for some headspace.
The design of Birch Selsdon respects the original architectural features of the red-brick mansion, which has been updated and modernised with carefully curated furnishings and accessories, very much in the Soho House vein. There’s an earthy colour palette used throughout the bedrooms with mustard armchairs, sage green throws, slate grey cupboards, and mushroom-shaped rattan floor lamps alongside bedside tables made by Sebastian Cox using wood from the Selsdon estate and recycled glass lampshades. There are no televisions or desks in the room either because screen time really isn’t the vibe at Birch. Here it’s about letting the creative juices flow and getting your hands dirty, not having one eye on the telly and the other on TikTok.
My preferred method of juice flowing and hand dirtying was joining one of the pottery workshops, but there’s a really varied programme running at Birch Selsdon already, featuring everything from beekeeping to bat safaris to screen printing. I was aiming for something chic and artisan but I fear my slab-built vase and pinch pot won’t have the ceramicists of East London remotely worried – whatever the final result (the pieces have to be fired and glazed, so you get them in the post later), it sure was a productive way to fill the gap between check-in and dinner.
There are two restaurants at Birch Selsdon, both overseen by Lee Westcott. Vervain is the all-day spot, where guests get breakfast and British brasserie-style food is served from lunchtime, and then there’s the fine-dining Elodie, which serves a seasonal tasting menu based on a farm-to-fork ethos. Lee and the kitchen team make use of produce grown in the on-site kitchen garden and foraged ingredients from across the estate, and that earthy, natural connection is reflected in the interiors; Elodie is all moss greens and tans, tactile furnishings and (actually good) handmade ceramics.
Lee is on fine form with the seven-course menu, with standouts being the sweet English pea croustade with smoked cod’s roe, wild garlic capers & marigold, the impossibly thin and crisp pastry giving way to rich roe tempered with sweetness of pea; the IPA sourdough, still warm, served with intensely Marmite-y Marmite butter; and the Cornish crab with heritage tomato, green almond & chamomile, a perfect summer fish dish. With warm, friendly service and a great value price tag of £69, Elodie is relaxed fine dining done right.
Sadly there was non-stop rain on the evening we stayed over – that’s the British summer for you – so we didn’t get to properly experience the terrace, but from a quick nosy around the following morning, it looks like it’d be a lovely spot for a few sundowners, ‘sun’ being the operative word. And there’s still the lido to come too, so now all we need is the weather.
All of that is just a ten-minute cab ride from East Croydon station but Birch Selsdon really does feel like a whole world away, perfect for when you want to escape the city without the inconvenience of actually leaving it.
126 Addington Rd, South Croydon CR2 8YA