A busy week, an early start and several hours on the road, made arriving at South Lodge Hotel and Spa, near Horsham, in Sussex, particularly welcome.

And what was even better was that the massage I’d booked was starting in, hmmm, half an hour. Perfect. Our room was not due to be ready until later, but myself and my fellow spa reviewer Allan, had arrived a bit early to make the most of the facilities.

South Lodge is a luxurious five star hotel and since last spring it has the most beautiful spa on site.

Bringing the outside in

The spa is a truly magnificent space – a modern, elegantly-curved building that blends in with the landscape.

The designers were focused on bringing the outside in, and they’ve achieved this at every turn.

The infinity pool almost seems to spill out onto the Sussex countryside.

The gym has a wonderful picture window that takes treadmill time to another level.

Meanwhile the yoga studio has a series of tall windows looking out onto lovely woodlands, which made my stretch session even more serene, though I was quite distracted by the little squirrel scampering about on the other side of the glass.

Truly relaxing massage

First things first though. A full body massage using The Spa’s own branded products. This started with me inhaling the scent of ylang ylang, before my therapist gave me a bespoke massage with extra attention to my creaky left shoulder and my aching feet.

And all this was on the largest massage bed I’ve ever encountered; heated too. It was so relaxing that I’m ashamed to say I only realised the massage had come to an end when I was woken by my own snoring.

Countryside views

Peeking out of the window as I got back into my robe, I could see a large, heated hydrotherapy pool outside. I couldn’t wait to take a dip. It was super relaxing, with various jets to massage you from top to toe and uninterrupted views of the fields beyond.

The indoor infinity pool was also a treat as the window looks out onto the same beautiful view.

After this, I tried the spacious steam rooms and the stylishly designed sauna. The sauna is a great space, again with a window onto the grounds and an organically designed interior.

The spa certainly got busier later into Saturday afternoon, but not to the extent that you couldn’t try out everything you wanted.

Modern, inventive food style

One of the biggest treats at the venue is the Botanica restaurant, which is designed and presented in a relaxed, modern style.

We were on a meat-free month during our visit and so the menu, which included numerous vegan and vegetarian dishes was a delight.

My favourite was the spiced cauliflower with tarragon tzatziki, which had a beautifully thought through array of flavours and textures.

Allan loved the slow-roasted squash with puffed rice. The service was helpful, friendly and just the right amount of attentive.

Enjoy an early start

After a night in a beautiful room we dashed out early to try the spa facilities all over again first thing in the morning.

I’d recommend doing this if you’re staying over as you almost have the place to yourself first thing.

We loved watching the first light of the early morning sunshine on the frosty fields from the comfort of the hydrotherapy pool.

We had the option of a traditional buffet breakfast in the hotel or a return to Botanica. We’d enjoyed the evening meal there so much that we went back to the spa for brunch. The chef cooked everything perfectly and we tried some zingy combinations of freshly-pressed juices.

All in all, we enjoyed a thoroughly relaxing and luxurious weekend.

Yvonne Martin
TRIP NOTES: A stay at South Lodge with B&B and Spa access costs from £285 for a Cosy Room. B&B with Spa access costs from £395 for a Junior Suite. Prices are per room. Find out more about the venue at exclusive.co.uk/south-lodge.