Pulling up to South Lodge in a taxi, there was an instant sense of escape. Perhaps because the location is a short ten minute drive away from the bustle of Horsham town centre, and into the tranquillity of the Downs. Perhaps the sense of retreat was amplified by the fact that it was one of our very few sunny days in July this year.
The hotel, once a private home amongst the 92 acres of countryside, stands proud in its romantic beauty. The spa is just a short stroll beside it and holds its very own sense of getaway; while the hotel embodies charm, the spa embodies calm. Everything from the ambient music to the gym facilities is catered towards wellness. They have all you could need to ensure you feel good, putting your mind and body at the forefront of your stay, whether that’s over a weekend or just one day.
An immediate sense of comfort
When I arrived I was greeted at the front desk and asked to fill out a short health consultation form. The staff were immediately friendly and welcoming, keen to answer any questions and happily showed me around the space which is spread across two floors: the gym, pool and changing rooms were downstairs, while the treatment rooms, relaxation lounge and Botanica restaurant were upstairs with the reception area. I was warmly informed that my Grapevine Face and Body Glow treatment was at 11:10, and my lunch reservation was at 12:30, giving me about an hour to settle into the spa and make the most of their offering. This was all included as part of the Di-Vine Spa Day.
Indulge in the Di-Vine Spa Day at South Lodge Spa
Stepping into the changing rooms, there was an immediate aura of luxury. Imagine marble print walls, massive well lit mirrors, plus a very stylish lounge area in the centre with leather sofas and decor on the bookshelves. Around the circumference of the room were vanity mirrors complete with plenty of amenities to ensure self-care comes first including hairdryers, cotton buds, straighteners. In every locker hangs a soft, fresh robe and towel waiting for you to slip into.
Next door is the first room of complete zen where you’ll find the sauna, salt room, and herbal steam rooms. Step inside the aromas and immediately feel the pores on your skin and sinuses thank you. Once you’ve done a few rounds of warming up your body, brave the cold drench bucket. Then, step into the indoor pool area which has regular water classes and more loungers scattered around the edge.
South Lodge’s number one inspiration is the incredible green surroundings in which the pool and gym both look out to. With the unobstructed views South Lodge have, it would be difficult to not want to boast and allow guests to truly immerse in the landscape. The outdoor area is where nature is fully taken advantage of with a vitality pool, wild swimming pool, sun loungers, egg chairs and cushioned seating to lay back and soak in the sights of meadows. Resting with the sun on my skin, and the sound of fountains dancing in the vitality pool, it does not get much better. Well, maybe apart from doing breaststroke in the gorgeous blue wild pool, becoming one with the grass and the flowers and trees that surround.
Grapevine Face and Body Glow
Then it came time to head back upstairs for my Grapevine Face and Body Glow, which was brand new to the spa for July. This revitalising treatment consists of a “facial for the back” – a part of our body and skin which can so easily get dismissed. During the sixty minutes expect a cleanse, detox, and overall hydration for the back, neck and shoulders via a massage. Rosie took me into the dark, peaceful room and introduced what to expect before stepping outside as I lay down and got comfortable. A brand new product range was used showcasing a South Lodge partnership with Pelegrims. Each cream, serum and mask uses grape leaf extract from South Lodge’s very own vineyard. The extract contains natural antioxidant properties with anti-ageing benefits, which softens and rejuvenates the skin while lightening scars, and smoothing uneven skin tone.
My skin was pressed and muscles kneaded like bread in a wonderfully soul-soothing procedure. While my back absorbed all the earthy smelling products, I received a scalp massage. Then, my feet too were rubbed with balms as the mask set on my face. When I slowly rose from the bed feeling half asleep, I was offered herbal tea and a lie down in the relaxation lounge to maintain the peace. My skin felt like it was glistening, still thick with the moisturiser slowly seeping into my pores. Being reintroduced to the views of nature with my chamomile tea, complimentary grapes and sunlight was the perfect transition out of the treatment.
Delicious lunch at Botanica
Then, I made my way to Botanica restaurant which is open for the public to use and dine in, alongside spa and hotel guests. The Di-Vine Spa Day includes £40 allowance to spend on a tasty and nutritious lunch, while you can also purchase wines, cocktails or hot drinks. The atmosphere maintains the calmness of the spa, allowing you to sit in the restaurant in your robe until 5:45, while the attentive staff work hard to ensure you receive star treatment.
Recommended was the chicken caesar salad, popular with regulars, though there were brunch options, and small plates as well as other larger lunch dishes to choose from. Botanica are dairy free and sustainable; head chef Jonathon Spiers draws on the South Downs as a larder for fresh and seasonal ingredients. Although not totally vegetarian, the menu features a plethora of plant-based plates. I opted for the smoked salmon crumpet with a caviar and dill dressing, and just a touch of lemon and pea shoots to garnish. It was fresh, well flavoured, and to have the crumpet made in-house was a fine benefit to the plate.
Have a stroll around the grounds and stay at South Lodge
After my lunch I chose to dawdle around the grounds, marvelling at the wonderful architecture of the hotel and breathing in the fresh air. I stumbled across the tennis courts, and glorious vineyard. I spotted bunnies, birds and bees hiding in the bushes around the paths. South Lodge is the perfect place to run away to for a staycation or celebration. Should you want to return again and again, you could become an Exclusive Collection member and make the most of their facilities whenever you like.
The Di-Vine Spa day includes full day access to all spa facilities including gym and pool from 8am (classes should be booked in advance). Plus, Grapevine Face and Body Glow, £40 allowance on food at Botanica and a glass of Ridgeview English sparkling wine.