South Lodge Hotel & Spa – The Ultimate 5-Star Escape to the Country
From Exclusive Hotels – the masterminds behind Pennyhill Park – comes one of the UK’s most exciting spa hotels in the form of South Lodge.
Set in 93 acres of glorious Sussex countryside, and with trains from Horsham to London taking less than an hour, South Lodge provides the ultimate 5-star escape to the country. The addition of a 15 million pound spa has been a game-changer for this beautiful five-star Jacobethan mansion hotel.
The spa has been thoughtfully and stylishly designed to bring the outside in, with the focus on complementing the natural beauty of the surroundings. Spanning 44,000 sq feet, the spa boasts a stunning infinity pool, the UK’s first 18ft long natural heated wild swimming pool (it feels like swimming in a warm lake), and an outdoor vitality hydrotherapy pool overlooking the beautiful countryside. Thermal experiences include an infused sauna, a marble-lined salt steam and jasmine herbal steam rooms. The spa also boats a state-of-the-art gym, a dedicated spin studio, and a Holistic studio. You can relax with some Mindful Flow & Meditation or if you are feeling energetic, the 80’s Aqua will be sure to get the blood pumping.
The Spa Stay and Play area is inspired. Rather than just showcasing the products on sale, it has a dressing table with mirrors and sinks, where guests are encouraged to try out the products before they buy them. The Ridgeview Beauty Bar offers manicures, pedicures and make-up experiences, made even more fabulous by the fact that they can be enjoyed with a glass of sparkling wine, from award-winning local sparkling wine producer Ridgeview.
If like me you find it hard to choose between a facial or a massage, The Omorovicza Botanical Treatment, is perfect as it combines the two. Exclusive to South Lodge this luxurious 80 minute back and facial treatment begins with a back exfoliation and warming massage using rose quartz stones, which was a welcoming contrast to the crisp cold weather outside. A botanical facial follows to hydrate and repair the skin. The spa is also home to the Aesthetics Collective, whose mission is to deliver results in the form of non-surgical cosmetic and aesthetic treatments, delivered in a luxury, rather than a clinical environment. Treatments include hydrafacials, chemical peels, anti-wrinkle injections, dermal fillers and Profhilo. I was fortunate to try the Byonik Pulse Triggered Laser Facial which produced immediate and visible results. The rejuvenating treatment uses pulse triggered laser energy to allow the antioxidants in the hyaluronic acid gel to directly enter the cells of the skin. It also helps to detoxify the elastin in the skin – to allow it to move more freely. My skin appeared tighter, and the redness that plagues my cheeks was visibly reduced, meaning I benefited from a rare glow to my skin.
We stayed in a Junior Suite, which was stylishly designed in taupes and subtle greens. The exposed brickwork, combined with the luxurious touches, offered a perfect fusion of old and new. The wooden shutters opened up onto views of miles of rolling countryside. To say it was spacious, was an understatement. The room had not one, but two huge king-size beds (complete with handmade mattresses), a large walk-in shower, and an aqua television, so you can relax and watch TV from the comfort of your bath, which makes for a rather indulgent bath time.
The Pass – the Michelin star restaurant – is presided over by renowned head chef Tom Kemble. This small-cover restaurant offers an intimate fine dining experience. Open for lunch at the weekend and dinner Wednesday to Sunday, the posh eaterie allows adults only.
We dined at The Camellia, a two AA Rosette winning restaurant with a country house feel. The restaurant serves many traditional dishes, which are crafted with a contemporary take, using ingredients from local suppliers and the hotels’ own vegetable garden. There’s also a special Little Lodgers menu for your little ones.
We opted for breakfast at the Botanica, which is located in the spa. Brunch is served until 12pm, meaning you can enjoy the luxury of a long lie-in and not miss breakfast. There are lots of delicious juices on the menu, such as the pear, cucumber and spinach juice, or apple and beetroot. To avoid the inevitable food envy, my guest and I shared two dishes, the wild mushrooms on toasted sourdough toast with caramelized onion puree, and the smashed avocado served on seeded sourdough with confit red pepper. Both were delicious. There’s a great choice of plant-based food on the menu. The Wasted Burger, is made from leftovers from the morning juices. I have it on good authority, that it tastes better than it sounds! The Botanica is open throughout the day and its’ relaxed atmosphere and spa location means you can dine in your robe. On warmer days you can also dine alfresco.
If you can tear yourself away from the spa, borrow one of the hotel bikes and explore 93 acres of grounds, including lakes, woodland and exquisite gardens. Be sure to sample one of the 300 wines in The Cellar, an exquisitely restored Victorian cellar. Take some advice from the experienced sommeliers or, if you are more knowledgeable about wine than I am, then go solo. Sip a house cocktail on the terrace or hunker down fireside with a book in the cosy lounge. This country escape is pure and utter bliss.