South Lodge Hotel & Spa A Review
In a nutshell
South Lodge is an outstanding historic hotel in Sussex, offering the finest accommodation, cuisine and relaxation. Truly deserving of every one of its five stars (and more!), the hotel allows guests to escape and enjoy the luxury of the finer things in life, whilst celebrating the beauty of those that come free. With breathtaking views of the South Downs, award-winning dining, majestic rooms and the most amazing state-of-the-art spa, South Lodge has to be seen to be believed.
Elevated upon the rolling Sussex countryside, South Lodge Hotel is located just outside of Horsham and is a vast and magnificent Victorian country house, surrounded by 93 acres of opulent gardens and parkland overlooking the South Downs.
As you pull into the impressive hotel grounds, you cannot fail but be impressed by the sheer scale and character of the building. The sweeping drive is surrounded by immaculate gardens and it is this attention to detail that sets the tone for the entire stay.
As I entered into the grand reception area, we were warmly greeted by the South Lodge front of house team, with offers of assistance and a speedy check in process. As the weight of our luggage was lifted from our backs, so too was the weight of the world outside. This is a haven away from the daily grind, where luxury awaits around every corner of the impressive and maze of opulence within.
The décor is traditional and timeless, with fresh and modern accents. The history of the building itself is celebrated with artefacts that adorn the walls throughout, whilst contemporary additions such as the 3-AA Rosette restaurant ‘The Pass’ brings this once family home into the 21st century.
South Lodge boasts 89 individually styled and designed rooms and suites, all with their own character, but all linked by the common theme of fusing the past and present. With a huge range of accommodation options to choose from, South Lodge pride themselves on going above and beyond to provide flawless attention to detail and homely charm in bucket loads, plus of course the most spectacular views over the South Downs.
No matter which room you chose, you can rest assured that every bedroom has ultra comfortable handmade mattresses, hand-finished duvets and even a pillow menu. Our family suite, named West Dean, was simply divine, with an expansive bedroom area, huge windows that framed the countryside beyond, traditional and cosy furnishings, plump cushions, luxe heavy curtains and a very impressive bathroom that featured a shower that could house a whole polo team, a TV for use in the bath, a double vanity and indulgent beauty products from South Lodge’s own brand ‘The Spa.’
Widely regarded as the ultimate dining experience in Sussex, Tom Kemble at The Pass is South Lodge’s premier dining hot spot. Unlike many onsite country house hotel restaurants, this multi award-winning exterior is modern and as innovative in décor as it is in cuisine. When we first arrive, it is immediately apparent how the restaurant got its name. Propped up on high stalls, guests are quite literally dining at the pass of the restaurant, right next to the action of the kitchen beyond. Making for a very transparent experience, not only are all ingredient traceable from farm to fork, but diners are able to watch the team of highly skilled chefs craft their meal effort their very eyes. One would assume that being sat next to the kitchen, the atmosphere could at times get rather chaotic, but in contrast, what diners actually witness is a kitchen run with precision, calmness and masterful focus.
With space for just 28 lucky diners, The Pass offers an intimate experience, with a six course tasting menu which changes with the seasons. Looking around the room, it’s clear that every guest is on the edge of their seat, not only literally, but also with suspense. With so many ingenious dishes and interesting ingredients on the menu, there is an atmosphere of excitement and expectation.
Our culinary journey at The Pass begins with some canapés and an enthusiast welcome by the serving staff. The team are all experts at their roles, with an unfaltering knowledge and pride in the dishes they are serving their guests. As the first course of Delica pumpkin veloute, bay leaf and sage Chantilly and pumpkin seed praline arrives, we know we are in for a meal to remember. Every dish sings with flavour, is presented like a fine work of art and leaves the diner savouring every mouthful. Satisfying every taste, you’ll find huge variety within the tasting menu, with dishes such as Maitake mushroom risotto with 36 month aged parmesan and bitter leaves offering an earthy yet homely and warming experience and 50 day aged beef served with cevenness onion, pomme paillasson and black winter truffle offering carnivores pure rural indulgence.
For a more traditional option, South Lodge also offers guests the two AA Rosette winning Camellia restaurant where you’ll be served breakfast and come lunch and dinner time, mouth-watering dishes are on offer, all made with skill and flair. Using fresh vegetables from the hotel’s walled kitchen garden and the finest local Sussex ingredients, it has its own unique style in creating balanced, contemporary interpretations of traditional seasonal dishes.
The Spa at South Lodge recently opened in the spring of 2019, having cost 15 millions pounds to build and is quite simply outstanding in design and offering . This is a place to meet, workout, relax and eat, making it a hub of mindful activity and so much more than just a hotel spa.
Sat within the pristine grounds of the hotel, The Spa at South Lodge is designed to blend harmoniously with the rolling countryside that surrounds it, with its roof following the natural contours of the land. Surrounded by wildlife, nature and peace, the 44,000 sq. ft. Spa champions and embraces the estate’s landscape, with both the external and internal design celebrating natural beauty, with a calming colour palette of pale blues, beiges and greens used across all walls, artwork and soft furnishings. This is an expansive, bright and inspiring setting that sees wall to floor windows bringing the outside in and producing a feeling of relaxation, harmony and peacefulness.
Guests to the hotel are offered full use of the spa facilities, including the inside and outside swimming pools, thermal spa areas, state-of-the-art gym and even attendance to the full schedule of fitness classes. As with the hotel, luxury is at the forefront of the offering at The Spa, with expansive changing areas being complemented with the very best in grooming equipment, including Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryers and Paul Mitchell hair straighteners. Elsewhere, the Ridgeview Beauty Bar offers manicure and pedicure treatments using Jessica products, a premium experience at high street prices – a one stop shop for all hotel guests and non-residents.
When it comes to treatments at The Spa, you’ll find a whole variety of options available, ranging from signature massages, to glorious facials, reflexology and special spa day packages which allow the visitor to experience a combination of techniques designed to offer ultimate relaxation. Each treatment room is designed to encourage deep relaxation, whilst heat, light and sound mood pods are also available, as well as relaxation rooms for post-treatment chilling. A variety of thermal experiences are on offer, including a private mud room and infused sauna, as well as marble-lined salt steam and jasmine herbal steam rooms.
The piece de résistance of this spa has to be the trio of swimming pools, each offering a very different experience. Inside you will find a pristine 22m x10m indoor infinity edge UV treated pool, ideal for leisurely lengths whilst gazing out of the window paned walls, whilst outside, lounge chairs lead the way to a vitality hydrotherapy pool and beyond, The Spa boasts a serene heated wild swimming pool (complete with pond life!), with an attractive wooden bathing platform inviting guests to take a revitalising dip.
A trip to the Spa can be turned into a full day experience thanks to the popular Botanica restaurant, where healthy and innovative dishes, snacks and drinks can be enjoyed inside or on the outside terrace, whilst light bites, drinks and ice creams are available at poolside spot, The Watershed. A focus on plant-based, vegan and alternative foods is a passion for head chef Jonathan Spiers, who draws on the South Downs as a larder for fresh and seasonal ingredients. The Mediterranean-inspired recipes are a real talking point for members who gather daily to refuel over brunch, lunch or dinner.
This is a luxurious haven of relaxation and indulgence for the rich and famous, the romantic couple, the gaggle of girls looking for some luxe pampering, the family reunion and the sports star visiting Sussex. Wherever you look, there is a relaxed sense of occasion, a toast being raised and a memory being made.
The Special Touches
It is hard to pinpoint the special touches at South Lodge, purely because every aspect of this hotel and spa is outstanding, thoughtful, expertly presented and pure luxury.
Overnight stays are from £160 per person with breakfast/brunch (based on two sharing). Annual membership at The Spa at South Lodge is from £2000 per person and spa days are from £145 per person. Be sure to visit the website for the latest offers, prices and packages.