Yvonne Reay-Scott, EA to the CEO of Mount Anvil was the lucky winner of a night’s stay at the gorgeous South Lodge hotel in Sussex.  She went with husband David and little dog, Max.  It’s hard to know who enjoyed the experience more….

Shall we count the ways we loved our stay at South Lodge in the South Downs? There are probably too many to list here; from the moment we arrived we and our little pug, Max, felt very looked after.   The hotel, one of The Exclusive Collection is a 19th century neo-Jacobean mansion with plenty of wood panelling and a relaxed, family/pet friendly vibe.   Upon arrival we were escorted to our enormous suite, with four-poster bed and its own private terrace opening onto the lawns (93 acres in fact!) – so lots of ground for two-legged and four-legged guests to explore.  I was delighted to find a pillow menu and promptly ordered lavender and aromatherapy pillows.  The bathroom was marble lined with a free standing bath which I was very happy to slip into, after the spa for a long soak in front of the telly affixed to the bathroom wall, whilst sipping glass of champagne which I’d trotted back with from the bar for this specific purpose!

I’d called the hotel ahead to check if we needed to bring a bed and bowl for Max. “No”, they said, “we are very dog-friendly, everything your dog needs will be available in the room”.   Just as they promised, everything had been considered: not only did Max receive a welcome note from the hotel mascot “Lord Minty” but also a bed, bowl, blanket, toy and a brand-new towelling bathrobe with his name embroidered on.   His bathrobe fitted perfectly and I called reception to ask if we could buy it, to be told it was in fact a gift for him to keep!  Max was “pawsitively” delighted.  South Lodge has pitched their “doggy” offering perfectly.

After unpacking, we decided to head down to the 44,000 sq ft luxury spa which we were advised has been recently refurbished to the tune of £14m and boasts and outdoor hydrotherapy pool and wild swimming pool, thermal suite with herbal and salt steam rooms and treatment rooms as well as a fully serviced restaurant and bar – Botanica.   The treatments and attention to detail are excellent.   I did venture out into the outdoor hydrotherapy pool but wimped out of a dip in the outdoor wild pool, the UK’s first heated natural swim pond.  Men aren’t forgotten here either and can get spruced up in a dedicated male grooming bar.

After the spa we collected Max from our room and headed to the bar to sample the cocktail list.  The wood-panelled Billiard Bar, where Churchill used to puff away on his cigars, has a lovely “hunting lodge” feel and we sank into the huge sofa to peruse the decadent cocktail list which we were told was “a journey through the history of South Lodge”.  The tequila based cocktail I tried was sublime.  The bar is also set up so that dog owners can dine in the more informal setting from the restaurant menu, if they don’t want to leave their dogs in the room.

Fortunately, Max is a very calm little boy, happy to go to sleep anywhere, so we dropped him back at the room and headed to the Camelia restaurant for dinner, starting with a glass of champagne.  The a la cart selection was divine and despite my intention to have a dessert, I was far too full after my starter and main.  I had the home smoked salmon (and of course had to try my husband’s choice of (local) venison carpaccio with candied artichoke and charcoal oil).  My roast duck breast main course was served with a miso duck wonton and I also tried a mouthful of David’s stuffed guinea fowl breast with truffle jus.

After dinner I waddled back to the room to fetch Max and we took coffees and after-dinner drinks back at the Billiard Bar where we met another couple who were staying with their dog.

Breakfast is a continental buffet plus cooked options, served in the Camelia restaurant.  I enjoyed a full English while David had Eggs Benedict.

Whilst David was loading our bags into the car and strapping Max into his doggy car seat for the journey back to London, I popped into the annex to view the meeting rooms and conferencing facilities.  Only one hour from central London, South Lodge is perfectly located for off-site events and conferences, with 12 meetings rooms with capacities from 10 to 170.   The hotel offers 85 bedrooms and suites and fabulous delegate facilities and packages at very keen prices.

In summary – South Lodge is the perfect place to hand over your car keys and simply surrender to being pampered and looked after.  We will definitely be back.

South Lodge is a luxury hotel near Horsham in Sussex offering the best in relaxation,with breathtaking views of the South Downs, award-winning dining, expert meeting facilities and the most amazing state-of-the-art spa.  Exclusive Collection offer six 5* country properties within easy distance of London.  Contact:  Stephanie Hall on stephanie@exclusive.co.uk