Stylist’s events director Mariam Ahmed finds ultimate relaxation at South Lodge Spa
Lying in a womb-like pod that is gently warming and vibrating my body while playing relaxing music, subtly alternating coloured lights and releasing an aromatic fragrance, I’m about the most relaxed I’ve ever felt. My pod lounger is so futuristic I could be starring in a rather slow-paced sci-fi movie but I’m actually trying out a new next-level spa on the South Downs.
I can’t think of a better break than one involving a spa. Wearing a white fluffy robe from morning till night – what’s not to love? And the South Lodge Spa in West Sussex takes its spa-ing very seriously.
A 90-minute drive from London, the spa recently opened next to the five-star South Lodge hotel. It combines stunning countryside views with contemporary decor and the latest in spa technology: such as the aforementioned 4 Senses Lounger. It’s also a guilt-free experience thanks to its eco-friendly credentials. The face wipes are biodegradable, all forms are filled in on tablets not paper, and there is a genuine effort to reduce or remove single-use plastic.
Outside in the elegant grounds, you have the arduous choice between a hydrotherapy pool and a natural heated swimming pond – the UK’s first – dotted with reeds and surrounded by cherry blossom trees. Opt for the jacuzzi and you can warm yourself afterwards on one of the cushioned wicker recliners facing the open fire pits. Like I said, tough choice.
Inside, there’s an infinity pool, marble-lined steam rooms and a sauna. I opt for a swim in the pool where floor to ceiling windows overlook the gardens. I get out as the sun sets and the whole room takes on a calming blue hue. It’s so warm I fall asleep on my day bed and have to be woken up for my massage. The bamboo massage I’ve booked sounds like a historical torture but, as the therapist manipulates her bamboo sticks to stretch out my muscles and knead deeper tissue, I relax into blissful oblivion yet again.
Back at the hotel, no two rooms are the same and mine, The Earl of Athlone, has a roll-top bath where you can lay back and watch a 75-inch curved TV. From the pillow menu I choose ‘The Romance’, which contains an aromatic blend of damask rose, patchouli, ylang ylang and cardamom aimed at inducing deep sleep.
Dining at Botanica, one of the on-site restaurants, is a virtuous but filling experience. The menu is mainly plant-based and my ‘Wasted’ burger – made from leftover pulp used to make beetroot juice – is a juicy, almost meaty success.
Back in my room, I climb into my tub and watch Dirty Dancing on the enormous TV before enjoying an amazingly deep sleep. I don’t know if it’s thanks to the pod, the pool, the pillow or Patrick Swayze but this is how every spa weekend should be.
Rooms at South Lodge start from £265 per night including spa access; exclusive.co.uk