South Lodge Hotel, West Sussex, England

Escape the rat race for the ultimate English break

A stone’s throw south of London (just an hour by car) in the heart of the British countryside lies a hotel which is undoubtedly run by an owner with… OCD. I mean that in the nicest possible sense and say it simply because the attention to detail at this beautiful country house hotel is second to none.

Let me enlighten you. I may be way behind on current hotel etiquette (although having had five weddings already this year from Doncaster to Hampton Court, I have already sampled varying degrees of decorum), but when did it become common place to offer a ‘pillow menu’? That’s right, guests can choose from four different pillow types – from The Lavender (filled with 80grams of dried flowers) to The Airstream which has ‘an inner chamber of springs that gently cradles your head and neck’) – to ensure they have the ultimate night’s sleep. Music to the ears of my husband, who’s sleeping patterns are erratic to say the least (and usually involve a midnight feast).

Before you hit the sack though, do remember to consult the weather forecast delivered to every room to determine whether the following day will be spent exploring the 93 acres of wild woodland with its stunning Mr-Darcy-wet-white-shirt lake and collecting wild flowers to arrange in your room vase (provided for that very purpose), or tucked up in the library, pouring over the Sunday papers and enjoying the breathtaking views over the South Downs. Are you beginning to catch my drift?

Fortunately, we hit the jackpot, spending a night at South Lodge on the hottest weekend of the year and revelled in the woodland walks through meadows of burgeoning buttercups and marvelled at enormous azalea shrubs, before supping on Pimms and trying to avoid the tamest of baby rabbits on the lawn, oblivious to our wayward croquet balls. Oh, how very English.

The combination of old and new is one of South Lodge’s greatest successes. With two new wings built on to the existing 19th century house, the décor combines lavish old-school interiors – chaise longues, chandeliers and mahogany finishes – with modern statement wallpapers and in-built bathroom televisions (never knew I needed one, but wow, what a crowd pleaser).  It even extends to the dinner environs, with a more traditional offering courtesy of 3AA rosette restaurant The Camellia, while the recently-opened The Pass delivers a modern, New York dining-style experience with banquette seats, high stools and a seriously intimate environment.

Escaping the London rat race and unwinding for the weekend seems like an triumph in itself, but when you have the aid of such faultless surroundings in which to do it, the experience is a walk in the (South Downs) park. Who said OCD is an affliction? In the case of South Lodge, it’s an absolute asset.

To read more about South Lodge Hotel and to make a reservation log on to www.southlodgehotel.co.uk or call 01403 891711.

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