Visit the South Lodge for breathtaking luxury in the countryside
The South Lodge is a grand affair nestled conspicuously off a little road in the heart of the dramatic South Downs. Such a location offers tumbling views and unrivaled beauty, tamed bracken, trees and even a lake – inviting crisp winter walks and lazy summer strolls.
The Hotel, whilst large (it holds 89 bedrooms) wasn’t instantly visible from the road, and it was only once we turned into the estate and had driven through a picturesque arch of trees that the 1883 country house came into view.
Inspired, spacious and indulgent, it is the ideal retreat for utter indulgence, fine wine and even finer food. The rooms, not only unique and spacious, but utterly beautiful, offer an unrivalled night’s sleep on hand-made mattresses.
We stayed in the one of the junior suites. With a king-sized bed, 3 piece suite, two desks and breath-taking views over the South Downs there is little more you could wish for in a countryside retreat. Tasteful décor and thoughtful touches (such as this unique flowers vase) really make you feel that extra bit special.
The bathroom on its own is a reason to visit. Out of every hotel I’ve ever visited this one – pardon the pun- really threw the others out of the water. Contemporary tiling, a huge shower (that made you feel like you were in a spa,) his n’ hers sinks (goodbye bathroom bickering) and a beautiful roll-top bath made this room amazing. The high ceilings and mood lighting made it even better.
No two rooms in this Hotel are the same- some boasting two baths or four poster beds and two rooms even having their own open-air hot tubs.
When it comes to dining, there is nothing spared, no aspect not thought of. You can start your dining experience with a drink the ‘Billiard Bar’ – the Hotels main bar. They serve a wide range of cocktails, from classics to the Head Bartender’s unique creations. Warm and classic this is a beautiful room to set the atmosphere for a night away, gentle classical music plays and an open fire crackles in the corner.
For dinner you have the option of either the Camellia Restaurant (which is where we dined), the Cellar, which offers light bites and a choice of over 200 wines, or the Pass, a Michelin Star restaurant which has 4AA Rosettes. The Camellia was the perfect mix for a sumptuous meal, balancing perfectly between being too-casual and overly pretentious. It’s ideal for getting dressed up and feeling special, but without being too over the top. And the food was delicious. A wide offering is available and whilst you would be satisfied with having two courses, you’ll be missing out if you don’t opt for three.
Starters range from spiced duck breast to pigeon to lobster raviolo. All food is cooked to utter perfection, portion sizes on point and the myriad of flavours give your palette a real treat. Mains are the real winner here though. As a self-professed sweet-tooth it is not often I prefer the mains to desserts, but the sumptuous array of choices presented make it a no-brainer. Normally restaurants of such are limited in their choices, with perhaps two or three meats to choose from and a vegetarian option. The South Lodge presents offerings from Sussex Beef to Pork, Venison or Hogget, with a couple of fish options and two vegetarian choices. I chose the roast beef and not only was the meat tender and flavoursome, but it was deliciously hot and it was clear just why the restaurant receives the raving reviews it does.
Desserts, again, are plentiful in their offering, with a few eccentric choices in there such as smoked beetroot and chocolate. For fruit lovers, there is plenty to pick from- apple parfait, carrot cake and rhubarb tart all make an appearance.
I would however, have to recommend the cheese board. This is no slab of three crackers with a couple of cheeses. You are brought a tray of different crackers and an extensive cheese trolley is wheeled over for you to make your choices. Your waiter will go through each cheese, explaining their origin and tastes- this is a restaurant where the staffs knowledge and passion really shines through.
After dinner, you can head back to the bar for a delicate after-dinner tipple (we chose a local malt whisky) and let all your stresses go as the classical music and fine drinks take over.
The next day, be sure to wander round the 93 acre estate. With 260 varieties of rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas which, when in bloom, present a magnificent sea of colour, it’s well worth taking in the view and picking some flowers for the vase in your room. Bring a picnic with you and enjoy it by the lake, or hop on one of the hotel’s mountain bikes and take in the countryside that way. If you’re in to your sports, play a game of tennis, croquet or golf at the Hotel’s sister property, Mannings Heath Golf Club just a short drive away.
We were hosted at the South Lodge hotel by Pride of Britain Hotels for one night and stayed in one of their deluxe suites. A double room for two people per night including VAT from £195. Family accommodation available. For best available rates call Pride of Britain Hotels on 0800 089 3929 or visit their website here.
South Lodge Hotel