The Spa at South Lodge
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.
Luxury lovers, rural retreaters, foodies, dog-friendly, couples, families, special occasion, eco spa fans, solo spa goers.
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 new Spa (opened 2019) is spread over two floors and has 3 inviting pools: indoor, outdoor hydrotherapy pool, and a unique natural reed swimming pond. Plus, a sauna, steam room and lots of space for comfy relaxation. 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, mid-morning, 3 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 cocoonesque 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 Downs.
Further round, is the unique 18m reed-filtered swimming pond, which isn’t as ‘extreme’ as it might sound as it’s pleasantly warmed – the first in the UK apparently. And there are a couple of new tennis courts, which can be booked by residents and day spa guests.
Back inside, there’s a state-of-the-art gym and spin studio, spacious and luxurious changing rooms and 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, Dyson hairdryers and GHD straighteners to ensure you leave looking as great as you feel. Shower products are by The Natural Spa Factory, and you can buy their popular vanilla and fig signature range from the shop to keep a whiff of the memory going when you get back home.
There are 14 treatment rooms, and the spa menu includes a choice of tempting massages, including Bamboo Massage which, as the name suggests, uses bamboo sticks to elongate tense muscles, and hot stones for added warmth.
For facials, The Spa’s partnered with high-end Hungarian brand Omorovicza to offer several of their expert treatments which combine the brand’s trademark facial massage and mineral-rich products.
Another great choice is Comfort Zone’s popular Prescriptive Facial, 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. As someone who usually opts for a massage over a facial myself, I enjoyed having a facial too, without having to leave the couch.
You can also treat yourself to a manicure or pedicure at the scandi-style Ridgeview beauty bar where you can pamper your pallet too, with a glass of locally-produced Sussex sparkling wine.
The spa has also introduced a signature Di-vine Spa Day in association with grape extract-rich brand Pelegrims. Treatments included in this package use antioxidant-rich products containing grape leaf extract from South lodges own vines.
The 88 rooms and suites have a classic country house hotel feel 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. Plus, a garden that allegedly boasts the country’s largest rhododendron bush!
wining & dining
There are three dining options at South Lodge, each with its own take on great food. Ben Wilkinson at The Pass has just been awarded its first Michelin star for 2023.
Camellia, South Lodge’s main restaurant, boasts three AA Rosettes and has a seasonal menu using ingredients grown in the hotel’s Walled Garden where possible. Spread over 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 the ‘Little Lodgers’ menu.
Botanica, in the spa, is a light and airy Mediterranean-feel café/restaurant that strikes the perfect balance between healthy and indulgent. 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, offering 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. The Pass offers more experiential dining with an emphasis on seasonal, locally-sourced produce, delivered as a series of small plates.
why so spavellous?
South Lodge is a great all-rounder – lovely location and surroundings, a good-sized spa with 3 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 building itself, and the fact that it uses solar power and energy from biomas. There are three good dining options to choose from, and you can bring your kids – and dog too if you want.
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 feeling guilty about leaving your dog at home while you’re away relaxing
Talk to the hotel about what kind of room you prefer as each one is unique
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.’