The Spa at South Lodge

The lowdown

The Spa at South Lodge is a gem of a wellness space in a beautiful Sussex setting, nestled on the edge of the South Downs.

Contrasting with the traditional style of the main South Lodge Hotel building, the modern luxury spa has been thoughtfully designed to make the most of its rural position.

Set over two floors, and with plenty of outside space, the spa has everything you need for a relaxing day flip-flopping from lounger, to pool, to treatment room, via a couple of heat experiences along the way.

The spa has a lovely café/brasserie too and you don’t have to break the chill spell by changing out of your spa robe to enjoy its delights.

Spavellous for

Luxury lovers, rural retreaters, foodies, canine friends, couples, families, special occasions, eco spa fans, solo spa goers.

Spa info

The Spa at South Lodge is luxurious, but not blingy. It’s been tastefully designed to blend with its natural environment and invites the outside in through full-height windows.

A short walk from the main hotel, the spacious spa, which opened in 2019, is spread over two floors and has three inviting pools: indoor, outdoor hydrotherapy pool, and a unique natural reed swimming pond. Plus, a sauna, steam room and lots of space for relaxing on comfort. There are 14 nature-themed treatment rooms, and the spa offers a great range of treatments, from facials and massage to dedicated treatments for men.

Inside you’ll find the 22m swimming pool, with large windows, a lane for serious swimmers, and a hoist for anyone with mobility issues. Flanked by plenty of super-comfy loungers and a few round day beds, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a post-lunch nap with your spa bestie. And, if you’re a fan of disco classics, a great vantage point for the aqua aerobics class, which run mid-morning, three days a week. (Aqua o’clock is a good time to make a beeline for the café if you’re after a quiet spa day.)

The pool leads through to the beautifully designed cocooning sauna overlooking the terrace, and a spacious steam room (watch out for the sudden jets!).

Venturing outside there’s a large hydro pool with reclined jet beds, bubble frames, and a water blade fountain that gives a mean shoulder massage. Plus, a good-sized terrace with fire pits, loungers and a great view of the grounds and South Downs.

Further round, is the unique 18m reed-filtered swimming pond, a beautiful clear and cool pool surrounded by reeds. And there are a couple of new tennis courts, which can be booked by residents and day spa guests.

Back inside, there’s a large and well-equipped gym and spin studio, and spacious and luxurious changing rooms with realistically sized (yay!) lockers. It feels like someone’s put thought into every aspect of what the discerning spa goer wants from every element of their spa visit, and no corners have been cut. It’s a top-end experience from start to finish. There are plenty of inviting showers, plus Dyson hairdryers and GHD straighteners to ensure you leave looking as great as you feel. Pelegrims products are provided in the showers and you can buy these from the shop if you want to keep a whiff of the memory alive when you get back home.

The Spa offers a good variety of Spa Days, available on weekdays only for most of the year. But, if you’re looking to use the spa but having a treatment isn’t a deal-breaker, you might find that booking an off-peak room offers relatively good value – especially if you book directly with the hotel to take advantage of the extended spa access.

Treatment highlights

The Spa at South Lodge has 14 restful treatment rooms, and the spa menu includes a good selection of tempting options. Choose from soothing bamboo and hot stone massages, luxurious facials, and specialist treatments including pregnancy treatments and sleep-promoting massages. The spa also offers facials specifically designed for male skin and signature treatments by its newest partner, eco brand Pelegrims.

Pelegrims is a local (Kent-based) skincare brand whose products include active grape extracts. In fact, the products used in the treatments at The Spa at South Lodge incorporate extracts from the hotel’s own vineyard. Book the signature Di-vine Spa Day to enjoy full access to the spa including Grapevine Face and Back Glow signature treatment, a glass of Ridgeview fizz and allowance for lunch at South Lodge spa’s dairy-free B Corp restaurant, Botanica.

Facial fans should check out high-end Hungarian brand Omorovicza’s treatments too, with several options that combine the brand’s trademark facial massage and their mineral-rich products.

Comfort Zone’s popular Prescriptive Facial will also hit the spot for anyone looking to target a specific skin concern like sensitivity, dehydration, or excessive oil. If you’re torn between facial and massage, the ‘best of both’ treatment solves this dilemma by combining facial and massage in a single indulgent treatment.

You can also treat yourself to a manicure or pedicure at the scandi-styled Ridgeview beauty bar where you can pamper your pallet too, with a glass of locally-produced sparkling wine.

I booked in for a South Lodge signature Grapevine Body Glow treatment, a Pelegrims treatment which includes a back treatment and facial. Pelegrims’ skincare products are British-made and contain nutrients contained within grape vines. The products used at South Lodge include grape leaf extract from the hotel’s own vineyard and the brand ties with their relationship with local wine producer Ridgeview, whose wines can be found in the restaurants and bars, including the nail bar.

After spending a couple of enjoyable hours in the spa, in particular in the wild swimming pond and outdoor hydrotherapy pool, I made my way to the spa reception area where I completed a short health questionnaire. I was collected for my treatment by one of the therapists, who led me to one of the first-floor treatment rooms, giving me a tour of the treatment part of the spa as we went. Part of the joy of The Spa at South Lodge is that it’s purpose built, modern and beautifully designed. This is evident in the natural feeling treatment rooms, half of which have windows looking out to the hotel grounds. The chosen room for my treatment had a shower, large, heated massage table, and a large blossom picture giving it a bright, organic feel.

Once the therapist had talked me through the treatment and Pelegrims product features and benefits, she left the room and I got changed out of my robe and made myself comfortable lying face down on the inviting treatment bed. She explained that the grape leaf extract use in the products contains anti-aging antioxidants and help to smooth any unevenness in skin tone, adding that the products are quite active and that it’s normal to experience some mild tingling while they are acting on the skin. Fine by me, I like it when a product feels like it’s doing something useful.

The treatment started off with three grounding inhalation breaths, then moved on to the ‘facial for the back’. I loved this idea as backs often seem rather neglected on the skincare front. Before starting on my back, the therapist did a quick foot cleanse, and exfoliation using Pelegrims’ Clarifying Exfoliant Powder which was mixed with grapeseed oil. This felt fabulously skin-awakening and the sensation of the product being removed with hot towels was pleasingly pampering too.

After removing every trace of the exfoliator, the therapist applied a warming body mask which she covered with a towel while it worked its detoxifying magic, using this time to give me a particularly soothing head massage with warm oil. After the back mask had been removed, again using hot towels, the therapist moved on to deliver a soothing neck and shoulder massage, again using grapeseed oil. This was very much a relaxing type of massage and there was no urge to tense up at any time like there can be in a Swedish/deep tissue treatment.

Next it was time for the facial, which started with a double cleanse using the Pelegrims Vitamin Boost Facial Cleanser, followed by a refreshing spritz of Hydrating toning mist. Then, a cooling mineral mud mask was applied to my skin, which made my skin tingle slightly as the therapist had advised. The Pelegrims products have quite a strong scent, which I like, with notes of rose and lavender coming through as well as the less familiar scent of ‘grape noir’.

The treatment finished with the massaging application of Pelegrims Facial Oil and the brand’s Facial Balm, which was gently pressed into my skin before a sweep of balm was traced over my lips. My feet were treated to a final foot cleanse finale and I was then shown to the relaxation room for a cup of fresh herbal tea and a side of grapes, My skin felt supple, my body relaxed and my mind happy.

rooms

The 88 rooms and suites have a classic country house hotel feel fused with more modern décor. Individually styled, each has its own personality and smart bathroom with marble accents. Grander rooms have extra luxe touches like a double bathtub, and some of the suites come with their own balcony or garden area. Five now have their own hot tubs too, great if you’re looking to really push the boat out. And, if you fancy a self-contained staycation, there’s even a cottage within the hotel grounds so you can enjoy having a spa and restaurants at your disposal.

New for summer 2024, The Reeds luxurious self-contained lakeside lodges, including two spa lodges, will offer a nature-immersed stay around the hotel’s lake – watch this space for the Spavellous verdict.

wining & dining

There are three dining options at South Lodge, each with its own take on great food. Ben Wilkinson at The Pass was awarded its first Michelin star in 2023.

Camellia, South Lodge’s main restaurant, boasts three AA Rosettes and has a seasonal menu that features ingredients grown in the hotel’s walled garden where possible. Spread across three rooms, the restaurant has a traditional country house feel, with oak panelling and rich soft-furnishings. In summer, the restaurant spills out onto the sunny terrace offering alfresco dining. Children are welcome in Camellia and they can choose from their own ‘Little Lodgers’ menu.

Botanica, in the spa, is a light and airy Mediterranean-feel restaurant that strikes the perfect balance between healthy and indulgent and is now dairy free. For Spa Day guests, packages include a contribution for lunch, and the menu extends to breakfast pancakes and bacon butties if your spa day’s all about indulgence. There are several good veggie and vegan options too. And food can be enjoyed from the comfort of your spa robe at any time of day, including outside dining on Botanica’s inviting terrace.

The Pass is the most refined dining option at South Lodge and attracts diners from all over Surrey and Sussex. With a unique dining experience at the ‘Chef’s Table’, you can get up close and personal with your food as it’s filleted and flambéed. Offering more experiential dining, it focuses on locally-sourced seasonal produce throughout its tasting menu.

why so spavellous?

South Lodge is a great all-rounder – lovely location and surroundings, a beautiful, spacious spa with three pools, luxurious spa treatments and the UK’s first heated natural swimming pool. It has good eco-credentials too, both in terms of the design of the spa building, and the fact it uses solar power and energy from biomass boilers. South Lodge also has B Corp accreditation, with Exclusive Collection being the first UK hotel group to become a B Corp business back in 2021. There are three good dining options to choose from, and you can bring your kids – and dog too if you want. And we’re watching this space for the opening of the Reeds lakeside spa suites.

spavellous tips

If you’re after a chilled spa escape, it’s worth checking whether there’s an aqua class being held on the day of your visit (if so, this might be worth avoiding by escaping to the café or cunningly coinciding your treatment booking).

South Lodge is dog-friendly so you don’t need to stress yourself by the thought of leaving your dog at home while you’re away relaxing.

Talk to the hotel about room choices as each one is unique.

spa-goers say

This is the only hotel I’ve stayed at where the bed’s even comfier than our own!

We had a blissful 4-day mini moon at South Lodge and loved every moment – friendly hotel, amazing spa and great cocktails (we tried most!)

‘usually UK spas don’t compete with the spas back home in Germany, but The Spa at South Lodge comes very close.’

‘I love the outdoor pools – the hydro pool and the swimming pond are really special.’

WEBSITE

aDDRESS

South Lodge, Brighton Rd, Lower Beeding, Crabtree, Horsham RH13 6PS

sAT NAV

RH13 6PS
Photo credit: South Lodge / Exclusive Hotels
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