It is already well known for its culinary offering – with Tom Kemble at The Pass the main event – but now South Lodge, in the heart of Sussex, is focusing its eyes on wellness with the opening of its cutting-edge, standalone The Spa.
Costing £15 million, its contemporary architecture by Felce & Guy Partnership, is impressive and seems to somehow cleverly fit with the traditional honey-coloured stone building of the hotel. While the latter is a 19thcentury country pile – complete with sugary plasterwork, ornate fireplaces and wood-panelled rooms – the new spa is firmly placed in the 21stcentury. Encased in green oak cladding, it has a grass and sedum roof, flashes of anthracite metal and plenty of glass walls that open out to the outside. The overall effect is modern yet perfectly captures the surrounding beauty of the hotel’s verdant 93 acres of grounds, with its woodland, parkland and even a hidden rockery.
In fact, the natural world is the focus throughout, with sensitively conceived interiors by Sparc Studio giving lots of witty references to the great outdoors. The juniper-infused sauna, for instance, has a wooden ripple-effect ceiling inspired by the rolling hills of the South Downs landscape. Dotted around the three pool (yes, three!) are curvy, rattan daybeds and egg-shaped pods giving an organic feel to the business of relaxing. There’s also a gorgeous outdoor, heated natural swimming pond, the first of its kind in the UK, with water warmed by underwater heaters and filtered by aquatic plants. So very of the moment. Inside, coffee tables are carved from tree trunks, botanical art works adorn the walls and delicate lighting is reminiscent of fireflies in the wild.
The feel is echoed in Botanica – the spa’s central, social hub which opens out to al fresco terraces. Here, head chef Jonathan Spiers has put together a modern, Mediterranean menu, with sustainability at its heart and healthiness as the driving force. Start with griddled corn and jalapeno bread and choose from a choice of five dishes for the all-day brunch (the wild mushrooms on toasted sourdough came with an inspired caramelised onion puree and Botanica ‘pesto’).
Vegetables are given a starring role with small or large plates offering plenty of vegetarian choices – such as ‘honey roasted carrots, puy lentils, tahini and dukkah’ or ‘poached fennel, apple and orange’. For those with a sweet tooth, but also trying to be virtuous, there’s also a genius ‘sweet bites’ section with little treats, such as coffee financiers and lavender shortbread, sounding too good to resist. Décor is of the seasons – with rust leather bar stools, silvery velvet dining chairs and textured wood tables bought up-to-date with industrial-style lighting.
When it’s time to get down to ‘spa-ing’, you’ll be spoilt for choice with a treatment menu bursting with over 50 therapies from The Spa or Omorovicza and 14 treatment rooms. Signature treatments include The Spa Mud Room Experience, which takes place in a dedicated ‘mud room’ and includes a head-to toe-scrub, a private steam room session and a natural mud wrap. For a failproof pick-me-up, The Spa Radiance Facial, which deep cleanses and pampers the face and includes a hand, foot and scalp massage, will leave you glowing and revived.
The Spa is packed with well-thought out offerings – such as the indoor 22m infinity pool, the outdoor hydrotherapy pool with massage water beds, the glamourous marble salt steam room and the jasmine steam rooms. The comprehensive fitness facilities (often lacking in hotel spas) are excellent and encompass a sprawling gym with Technogym equipment, an outdoor workout terrace, a spin studio and a yoga studio. The relaxing lounge, meanwhile, also has a point of difference with futuristic, sensory beds, which combine sound, light, scent and vibration for the perfect ‘switch-off’.
Men are not overlooked with the dedicated Grizzly’s Barbers offering a soft drink or beer with every haircut or wet shave. The Ridgeview Beauty Bar, meanwhile, add a fun vibe where you can enjoy a pedicure or manicure with a glass of the Sussex Ridgeview sparkling wine via the UK’s only sparkling wine Enoflute dispenser. It’s heady stuff.
Stay at South Lodge from £265 per night, for bed, breakfast and spa access. Part of the Exclusive Collection, for more information, and bookings, visit www.exclusive.co.uk.