From countryside boltholes to slick inner-city retreats, we’ve been to a fair few spas in our time, but none quite compare to South Lodge in West Sussex.
Set in the tranquil South Downs, the Pride of Britain hotel really is something else. From the minute you arrive you’re treated like luxury, with someone on hand to open your car door for you, to chilled drinks awaiting you in your reception.
My partner and I stayed in the Earl of Athlone suite, complete with views over the grounds, a free-standing bath in the living room, and three different shower settings, depending on your mood – the waterfall setting meant I stayed in the shower far longer than was necessary – but it just felt so soothing after a long week at work.
Feeling soothed was a key theme to our stay at South Lodge, which left me thinking that not only is it the perfect location for an extremely relaxing UK mini moon, it’s also the ideal spot for some pre-wedding pampering. Leave the wedding spreadsheet at home and hole up in this sanctuary for some quality time with your partner, untroubled by RSVPs, table plans and menu choices.
Before I get on to the spa, there’s a lot to be said for the room itself. On top of the romantic bath (every hotel room should have a stand alone tub, if you ask me!), each room has a pillow menu, where you can chose from seven different pillows – we plumped for an anti-snoring pillow and a lavender and manuka honey pillow; we just pressed a button on the in-room iPad, and the next thing we knew, someone was at our door with our pillows of choice.
Another little touch I was particularly taken with, was rather than a standard “do not disturb” sign to hang on the door, South Lodge’s rooms comes with a soft toy lamb that you place outside to let the staff know you’re after some alone time – I very much wanted to take this little stowaway with me, alas, I made do with just slipping the gorgeous mini toiletries into my wash bag.
I must also mention the restaurant – I’m not a massive foodie, but even I can’t deny that the food at South Lodge was exceptionally good – there are several restaurants on the grounds. We ate dinner at Camellia, and brunch at Botanica, and what a brunch it was!
The food looked beautiful, with fresh flowers adorning my partner’s mushrooms on sour dough, but it certainly wasn’t a case of style over substance – this was one of the tastiest brunches I’ve ever had, and was well deserved considering we’d torn ourselves from the ridiculously comfy beds at 7:30 in order to go to a spin class.
The gym at South Lodge offers a variety of different classes, including our choice of spin, alongside yoga, meditation, Zumba and pilates, among others.
After brunch, we got serious about relaxing, heading to the spa to check out all that was on offer – the indoor infinity pool, looking out over the grounds was our first port of call, before hitting the sauna, also with floor to ceiling windows (making it far less claustrophobic than normal saunas_, followed by two steam rooms, and last but not least, the outdoor vitality hydrotherapy pool which I happily could have stayed in for hours, floating between the back massagers and waterfall jets.
Scroll down to see photos, as seeing the images conveys the luxury more than words can…
The one spa facility we didn’t try was the outdoor wild swimming pool; call me a wimp if you will, but despite it being naturally heated, the moss and nature were too much for me -we saw dozens of people dipping in and out, but give me an infinity pool any day!
By the time it was time to check-out, we were both so blissed out we felt calm enough to get home and chase those last pesky RSVPs, and if somewhere is zen enough to make you feel ready for that, it gets a big tick in my book!
If reading this has got you in the mood for a spa hen do, check out our round up of the best places to go for your spa hen weekend.
An overnight stay costs from £265 per room (two sharing), including breakfast and use of the spa. Contact Pride of Britain Hotels on 0800 089 3929 (www.prideofbritainhotels.com).