South Lodge Hotel Offers Escapism for the Senses

By Paul Joseph

When Danny Boyle chose to dedicate an entire segment of the Olympics opening ceremony to the British countryside, some may have raised their eyebrows and questioned the relevance to such a London-centric nation.

But to do so would have grossly underestimated the national passion for the green, green grass of Britain.

Indeed, whilst London remains the country’s urban and cultural heartland, the attractions of rural Britain continue to draw visitors from far and wide. And for those seeking a temporary escape from the hubbub of city life, a visit to South Lodge Hotel in West Sussex delivers the perfect antidote.

Nestled in the heart of southern England’s sprawling countryside, the hotel is a popular choice with golfers, wedding parties and weekending families, thanks to its 93 acres of stately land that perfectly lends itself to an array of outdoor activities.

Part of the Exclusive Collection of hotels that features three other rural-based UK residences , South Lodge was originally a family home and remained so for the first century of its life. Today is has retained its homely feel whilst delivering all of the qualities required of a top-class hotel.

The hotel offers a nod to its grand past through Victorian vast-panelled bars and lounges, classically-styled furniture and curious artefacts, whilst the modern twist comes in the shape of the new wings that were completed in 2008.

There are also other contemporary features – not least a fabulous Michelin-starred restaurant called The Pass, helmed by a hugely talented young chef called Matt Gillan. The restaurant is entirely open to the kitchen, whilst above each table are screens so every guest can see their food being prepared in intricate detail.

If that’s a little too avant-garde for your tastes, there is also a more traditional and informal eatery called Camellia within the hotel, offering excellent food using fresh, local ingredients.

The bedrooms are stylish and elegant, with several quirky touches including a pillow menu, offering a range of textures and aromas, and a beanbag sheep on every bed as an alternative to a Do Not Disturb sign. Meanwhile the bathrooms feature his and hers sinks and baths, complete with built-in flat-screen TVs.

If you can tear yourself away from your cosy room, there are several activities available for guests, including croquet, tennis, archery and clay pigeon shooting in the grounds, plus several woodland walking routes both around the grounds and in the vicinity of the hotel.

The perfect country hotel? It could just be.

A double room at South Lodge Hotel starts at £195 per night.

By Paul Joseph