Moulding traditional and contemporary spa concepts together seamlessly… if it’s a modern spa with old fashioned luxury standards you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.
South Lodge has been a favourite hotel of mine for a while, so I was thrilled to hear that a spa was opening on site. And even more thrilled to receive an invitation to go and try it out. So Gemma Windham and I duly made our way to the Sussex countryside in the name of food and luxury, to bring you our report…
As one of the first to test the waters (literally), we presented ourselves at the spa with no real preconceived ideas about how it was going to be like. And I purposely kept my nose out of any pre-visit literature. I wanted to walk through the doors like a virgin.
First impressions are good. There’s a lovely open reception area, light and airy, with informal registration/reception desk and friendly staff, as well as shop selling their own branded beauty products (swit swoo!). A tour around the premises displays a fun side to the venue – it might be five star, but it’s got a sense of humour. The signage made us giggle, and it’s little touches like this that lift you out of super-serious spa space.
Liked the barber’s shop on site – so many hotels and spas offer a hair salon, but we liked the ‘manly’ space as something a bit different. There’s also a lovely nail bar area complete with bubbly fridge, and a well-equipped gym. But our focus was mostly on the spa area and restaurant for the day.
We spent some time in the café area testing a few coffees before moving into the restaurant. Botanica, for lunch. Some really nice foods on offer, and we appreciated the re-use and recycle aspect of the menu. Botanica has some excellent policies in place, including using locally sourced foods, a low tolerance to waste, and the inclusion of foraged foods.
So let’s talk about the food first. The menu changes rapidly so you may not be able to enjoy what we had, but we kicked off with a Mimosa, because why not, and then a couple of ‘Small Plates’ – which were Botanica Panzanella – Mozzarella, tomatoes, cucumber and croutons (£5); and Grilled courgette with pumpkin seeds and feta (£4.50). Both very light and zingy, lots of flavour and texture.
We followed this up with Truffle & artichoke tortellini with Twineham Grange vegetarian ‘parmesan’ (£17.50) and the Botanica ‘Caesar’ salad with kale and griddled chicken (£13). For my money, the pasta was the outright winner here, although it’s not for those watching their waistlines! The Caesar was fresh and had a great dressing and was a lovely healthy meal, but that pasta. Man that was good! And yes, that’s shaved white truffles you can see on top with the cheese and all that yummy oil and stuff. Indulgent heaven.
Obviously we tried puddings. How could we not? We managed a Poached pear with ginger beer ice cream (£7) and Lemon tart with Brighton rose gelato (£8.50). Honestly, we decided we probably wouldn’t go for the pear again, although the ice cream was interesting. But the lemon tart, yes please. Really fresh and lively, not too sweet. Excellent.
Swimming and treatments
Moving (staggering) away from the lunch table, we’d left enough time for lunch to go down before having treatments, so an ideal time to check out the pool and wet facilities. There’s some real fun to be had here – gorgeous indoor pool, of course, and there’s an infused sauna, marble salt room, and jasmine steam room.
But I’ve been cracking on about outdoor swimming for ages and was absolutely over the moon to discover a natural pool outside. It’s only just been planted out, bless it, so it’s a bit reedy and weedy for now, but I can see this blossoming into something really lovely in the summer. Yes, I did dip in it, very briefly (it is March, and not sunny!!) but I would kill to go back and get in there in a couple of months’ time. My only concern is that kids might damage the plants, or that it might get overused and ruin its micro-climate, or whatever you call it, but I guess that’s something they’ll have to take care of.
Stomachs deflated, time for treatments. We followed advice and booked a couple of signatures – I had the Omorovicza Botanical Treatment, which is an 80 minute full body experience, starting with a back scrub and massage, followed by a facial. Gemma went for the Omorovicza Blue Diamond Facial which is again 80 minutes and includes Hungarian facial massage and cooling derma-globes and is particularly recommended for an anti-ageing effect.
Worth pointing out that neither of our specialists knew we were reviewing, and both treatments were excellent – well executed and delivered with confidence. We floated out.
And so to the relaxation room! Absolutely have to mention this because it was so much fun, in a relaxing sort of way. These pods are soft silicon lined and once you lay on them they change colour and music/sounds to take you on a recovery ‘journey’ after your treatments. The beds vibrate with the sounds, and it’s not really like anything I’ve ever had before. I liked it though, and it’s a nice way to come round after a full-on 80 minutes of relaxation.
Overall this is a real haven of a place to be. I’m a parent, before anyone gets up in my face about this, but one of the things I loved most was the lack of kids. There are times when you just don’t want them around, and a day at this place really is one of those. The food was great, location is lovely. Will be revisiting in summer to see the newly-planted grounds and natural pool come into fruition.
So, it’s not a cheap place to be a member, with annual fees coming in around £2,000/£2,500. But it is absolutely lovely – one of the loveliest spas I’ve visited, and I’ve seen a few.
However, if you’re staying in the hotel you’re free to use the spa
Our treatments were both 80 minutes | £140 (Mon – Thur) | £150 (Fri – Sun) – and both utilised the signature Omorovicza product range. Full details below.
South Lodge Hotel
Long Hill, Lower Beeding,
Horsham RH13 6PS
Click for website – Spa at South Lodge
Omorovicza Botanical Treatment – EXCLUSIVE to The Spa
Using the botanicals of sage, chamomile, calendula and jojoba this full body experience will restore suppleness, whilst promoting a feeling of wellbeing. Perfect for those looking to rebalance.
The botanicals of sage, chamomile, calendula and jojoba used in this decadent full body experience restore suppleness, elasticity and tone whilst promotes a feeling of wellbeing. Perfect for those looking to rebalance body and mind with a combination of massage and facial.
80 minutes | £140 (Mon – Thurs) | £150 (Fri – Sun)
Omorovicza Blue Diamond
This treatment combines the traditional Hungarian facial massage to accelerate the oxygenation of the skin which re-energises and lifts, while the cooling derma-globes sooth the eye area for refreshed eyes. This firming and brightening facial restores skin fitness, essential to more youthful looking skin. Ideal for those looking for anti-aging results.
80 minutes | £140 (Mon – Thur) | £150 (Fri – Sun)