Need to alleviate the January blues? This eco retreat just outside London could be the answer.
Following weeks of belt-busting feasts and festive extravagance, chances are you’re probably in need of some recuperation. While booking a same-day Swedish massage on your Treatwell app may seem like the answer, nothing compares to a relaxing escape from the city, where you can luxuriate in hot tubs surrounded by nature, with nothing on your mind except what to order for your post-soak meal.
Thankfully, you don’t have to venture far to reach this level of Zen. Set in 93 acres of parkland overlooking the South Downs (an hour outside London, or 20 minutes from Gatwick Airport), South Lodge Hotel & Spa is a plush country stay with sustainability at the heart of the guest offering. Its eco-friendly grass and sedum roof and oak cladding blend into the scenery, while the restaurant strives to be as waste-free as possible, and there’s hardly a piece of single-use plastic in sight. It’s the least you’d expect from an Exclusive Collection property, which was the first UK hotel group to be awarded B Corp certification for its commitment to environmental causes.
Treat yourselves to soothing treatments at the spa
As impressive as this sounds, the reason you escaped London in the first place is to hit the spa. Pools (indoor and outdoor), saunas and treatment rooms occupy this impressive 44,000sq ft complex, inviting you to unwind one session at a time. Bask in the scent of jasmine at the aromatic infusion steam room. Enjoy a hydromassage as the winter air clouds up above the heated outdoor hydrotherapy pool. You can even go wild swimming in the naturally heated, reed-fringed pond and wow your pals with the FOMO-inducing Instagram shots after you’ve uploaded them from your lounger.
A smorgasbord of beauty treatments includes scrub-and-wraps (great for nourishing and toning the skin) and facials. The latter begins with a gentle neck and shoulders massage, before a tranquillity blend is applied to the skin, followed by an eye and a face cream gel to boost your natural hyaluronic acid levels. Naturally, the spa has partnered with a selection of sustainably-minded companies to include eco-friendly products across its menu of treatments.
The pampering continues back in the guestrooms, too. Velvet furnishings complement the sleek, marble bathrooms with mosaic tiling, stocked with premium bath products. For extra luxury, you can book a hot tub suite with its own terrace and outdoor whirlpool bath. Or there’s the Bothy Cottage, which sleeps eight guests and comes with a private chef and waiting staff.
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Indulge in flavourful delights responsibly
Nestled in the gardens next to the spa you’ll find Botanica, one of three dining options at South Lodge. Here you can sample an array of eco-conscious dishes, such as the ‘wasted burger’, which is made from beetroot and carrot pulp, before taking home a pouch of herb seeds, which is gifted to diners after every meal. Very little gets thrown away here, and the hotel donates leftover produce to those that need it via food-sharing app Olio. Meanwhile, fish-lovers should order the kataifi-wrapped cod loin, which comes with polenta chips. Following it with the apple crumble made for two would also be a wise choice.
For breakfast with a fine-dining twist, be sure to try the three AA Rosette-winning Camellia restaurant. A basket filled with pains au chocolat accompanies your choice of coffee or tea, while the luscious pancakes with maple syrup and bacon are a must-have.
Ideal for those in need of a recharge after the Christmas chaos, you can do a lot worse than banishing the January blues with a stay at this wholly green retreat in the Sussex countryside.
Standard room prices at South Lodge Hotel & Spa start from £395, which includes access to the spa (treatments not included).