Our in-depth review of South Lodge Hotel & Spa will help you decide whether you should book this gorgeous Sussex escape.
South Lodge Hotel & Spa in numbers:
- An average of 8,100 people google South Lodge Hotel & Spa every month
- Winner of 10 awards
- 3 restaurants and 20 spa treatments on offer
- Rooms from £265 per night include spa access and an excellent breakfast.
- This is a woman&home approved hotel
One of the south’s most luxurious hotels, South Lodge Hotel & Spa is a much sought-after escape in the Sussex countryside. It has won countless awards and accolades, and is searched for on Google over 8,000 times every month! But what’s so good about South Lodge Hotel & Spa, and should you book it?
We’ve done a full on recce of South Lodge Hotel to help you decide whether it’s really worth splashing the cash on. Our Digital Travel Editor, Lottie Gross, has tested the mattresses, sampled the restaurants and explored the spa to bring you a full breakdown of what to expect when you book a stay or event here, and she’s revealed why this has become a woman&home approved hotel.
South Lodge Hotel and Spa: a comprehensive guide
W&H star rating out of 5: 5
The managers at South Lodge Hotel & Spa have really thought of everything. From its sublime spa to the incredible restaurants, this hotel has style, substance and sweeping countryside views in droves.
What is the hotel’s vibe?
You’ll want to be well-dressed for your arrival at South Lodge, as this upmarket hotel has an air of elegance and grandeur that makes you feel fancier just by being there. There’s no formal dress code or policy, but gowns outside of the spa building aren’t really acceptable. Other guests are mostly couples young and old, but families are welcome – as are dogs – and service is polite but not dry or impersonal.
If you’ve not booked a dinner, bed and breakfast rate, the extras can get expensive here – a gin and tonic in the bar will set you back around £10, starters in the main restaurant are around £11 and most mains are £20-30. Add to this the cost of spa treatments (massages from £70 for 30 minutes) and you will be looking at a final bill of hundreds once you’ve paid for the room.
What makes the setting special?
A Victorian manor house amid a bucolic landscape, South Lodge is the true definition of a country house hotel. It sits atop a sloping hill, with its garden-view bedrooms overlooking beautiful terraced lawns that lead down to a lake and farmers’ fields where cows roam.
The original house was built in 1883 by Frederick Du Cane Godman, who made his name as a naturalist, establishing the British Ornithologists’ Union and studying and cataloguing the flora and fauna of Central America.
The house became a hotel in 1985 when it was bought by the Exclusive group, who also run Pennyhill Park in Guildford – famous for its links to the England rugby team. Today, the hotel’s main draw is its superb service, its offer of a high-end, luxury experience and the glorious South Downs that are accessible right on its doorstep.
What are the bedrooms like?
South Lodge’s bedrooms make for a glorious retreat. There are numerous categories starting from £265 and going up to around £850 per night, but all hold the promise of sumptuous, hand-made mattresses, a menu of pillows from pregnancy support to scented pillows, and high-end en-suite bathrooms.
We stayed in a junior suite in the South Downs Wing (around £350 per night), which overlooked the beautiful grounds and had its own living area and desk for working. Decor was fairly classical, but the bathroom was the highlight here. It had its own spa-like feel with gorgeous blue mosaic tiling, an enormous hydrotherapy bath with its own waterproof TV, and a walk-in shower with a rainfall head and body jets in the walls.
Top tip: book the best room in the house
With so many categories and different bedroom formats, it’s hard to choose the best room in South Lodge. If gorgeous views are your priority, ask for a south-facing room (the ground-floor bedrooms have their own patios with loungers too), but if you’re all about the relaxation, opt for a room with a bathtub.
Are South Lodge’s restaurants any good?
Afternoon tea and snacks are available in the bar areas throughout the day, but the dining doesn’t stop here. There are three main restaurants to choose from at South Lodge, so here’s a run-down of what’s on offer.
The Camellia Restaurant
South Lodge’s main restaurant is so well-regarded it has two-AA rosettes and award-winning chefs at the helm. This is country house dining at its best, with classics like fillet of beef, chicken terrine and even pheasant and duck. The menu here changes seasonally, and chef Jamie Gibson makes an effort to find ingredients with traceable provenance.
Thw wine list is pretty impressive too, with both Ridgeview and Bolney wines on the menu and over 300 other options should they not be to your taste. You can choose to have breakfast here in the mornings, or at the spa’s Botanica (see below).
Tom Kemble at The Pass
This is the fine-dining option at South Lodge, and it’s clear that they’re angling for a Michelin star here. Chef Tom Kemble works with his staff in an entirely open kitchen (set behind glass so you won’t go home smelling of your dinner), cooking up a six- to eight-course tasting menu with an optional wine pairing chosen by the house sommelier.
For something completely different, head over to the adjacent spa building for a taste of the Med. Botanica is South Lodge’s healthier option, with plant-based plates making up the bulk of the menu. Expect fresh, fragrant salads, shareable small plates and healthy big dishes like grilled hake, sea bass or comforting pumpkin pasta.
You can choose to have breakfast here in the mornings (expect smoothies, juices and unusual takes on traditional breakfast dishes), or at the main house’s Camellia Restaurant (see below).
What’s the spa like at South Lodge & is it free to use?
Brand new for 2019, the spa at South Lodge is a spectacular £15 million centre of wellness and luxury. Get your nails done at their Ridgeview nail bar, which involves sipping sparkling wine made nearby while you’re pampered from hand to toe. Work out in the state-of-the-art gym or join classes in the spin studio. Or simply book in for a massage and use the hydrotherapy pool for an afternoon of serious relaxation.
The spa really comes into its own in the summer months, when the outdoor terraces are a wonderful place to spend a few hours in your gown with a book. There’s a heated outdoor pool, but the highlight is the heated swimming pond, which uses real reeds and aquatic plants to filter its balmy waters.
Treatments range from the usual massages to scrubs and wraps and reflexology. Whatever you choose to do here, you’ll leave feeling utterly refreshed and rejuvenated.
- Bamboo massage; 60 mins; £105
- Hot stone massage; 60 mins; £105
- Upper body massage; 30 mins; £70
- Own-brand product facial; 30 mins; £70
- Omorovicza gold hydralifting facial with rose quartz; 80 mins; £135
- Infused wrap treatment; 60 mins’ £95
What are South Lodge Hotel’s other facilities like?
There are bars and lounges aplenty in this hotel, so you won’t feel short of places to relax. The Billiards Room (don’t be fooled, there’s no actual pool table in there) is a classic wood-panelled space with plush carpets and cosy armchairs for sinking into.
In summer, there’s an outdoor terrace for afternoon teas or gins in the sun, and they often even put on an outdoor cinema so you can grab a picnic and eat on the lawns while watching classics or new releases. When the weather’s on your side, expect croquet on the lawns and tennis matches on the courts.
There’s also a wine cellar, where you can enjoy self-guided tastings from their wine vending machine, or have a sommelier take you on a wine journey with their favourite bottles from the UK and beyond.
Is South Lodge Hotel a good venue for a special event?
South Lodge does weddings like nowhere else. Its stunning location is brilliant for photos, and the staff will go out of their way to make the special day run smoothly. The hotel also hosts conferences – it was once a host for the G20 in 2009 – meetings and company away days.
So, should I book it?
In short, yes. South Lodge is a supremely luxurious stay, well worth splashing out on for special occasions or seriously relaxing spa breaks. You get spa access from lunchtime on the day of arrival, plus an excellent breakfast either in Camellia or Botanica included in your room rate. And with free rein of the hotel’s lush grounds, you will find it hard to tear yourself away from this special corner of Sussex.
South Lodge Hotel: key info before you book
- Is it family-friendly? Yes
- Is it dog-friendly? Yes
- Is spa use included? Yes
- Is breakfast included? Yes
- Is there free wi-fi? Yes
Where is South Lodge Hotel & Spa?
Sitting amid the rolling hills of the South Downs, South Lodge Hotel & Spa has an enviable location. The huge Victorian manor house looks out over terraced lawns, a small lake and fields where cattle graze in long grass.
Equidistant between the A23 and A24, South Lodge is easily reached by road, and the nearest major train station is Horsham (taxis one-way cost around £15).
Things to do near South Lodge Hotel
If you can tear yourself away from the fantastic facilities at South Lodge, there’s lots to do in the surrounding countryside. Head east and you’ll find the Bolney Wine Estate, where sumptuous and even sparkling reds are created from their beautiful vines, and crisp summery white wines are well worth sipping on the bar terrace when the sun is shining.
Even further east is Ridgeview, where all manner of sensational sparkling wines are made in the same traditional style as Champagne. Tours and tastings are available at both.
Of course, one of the best things about South Lodge Hotel is the immediate countryside reachable on foot. Step out the back doors, walk down the slopes and enjoy a proper ramble among the South Downs – there are even maps at reception. Also don’t miss the gorgeous Grade I-listed Leonardslee Gardens, just a hop down the road.