From a relaxed brunch to traditional afternoon tea, a meal on the covered terrace overlooking the countryside or fine dining at The Pass, there’s no denying that South Lodge offers an incredible range of ways to eat in style.
The beautiful country house hotel offers you luxury whether you are there for a celebration meal, a trip to the new spa or a longer stay in one of its generously furnished rooms.
The gardens were bathed in bright sunshine when we arrived for a day visit to the hotel in Lower Beeding near Horsham.
Walking from the gravel carpark, we took in the magnificent views and could feel the tension start to drift away as we looked forward to a day of pampering and tantalising tastes.
We were booked into the Botanica spa restaurant for lunch at midday, which gave us ample time to work up an appetite with stroll around the grounds, revelling in the sense of space.
A tour of the hotel showed us the comfortable rooms where guests can while away the hours, with wine tasting in the Cellar, cocktails in the Billiard Bar, or the plush lounges, each with a warm and welcoming character.
The hotel’s traditional restaurant the Camellia is a popular choice. Its A La Carte and Sunday Lunch menus make full use of seasonal and locally grown produce, much coming from the hotel’s own walled garden.
It has three dining rooms and a covered terrace for alfresco dining.
Standing on the terrace, we could look across the lovely grounds to the spa, the newest addition to the hotel.
It is also home of the Botanica, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant which provides a relaxed atmosphere for all day dining.
We took a table close to the open doors to enjoy the view, and planned our afternoon while we ate.
The restaurant has fabulous brunches, lunches and light bites, with an array of plant-based and gluten free options.
Being enthusiastic meat-eaters, we opted for the Botanica ‘Caesar’ with griddled chicken, and a chargrilled bavette steak served with rocket salad and Twineham Grange cheese.
The meat was perfectly cooked, soft and succulent, and the salads fresh and crisp.
For dessert I enjoyed poached peaches with almond panna cotta and raspberry gelato, while my companion delighted in the pistachio iced parfait, served with macerated wonky strawberries and elderflower.
While we were savouring our desserts, we were eyeing the sun loungers outside and deciding where to spend our afternoon.
The Spa offers a range of treatments as well as a state-of-the-art gym and spin studio, and an indoor pool.
Outside we luxuriated in the hydrotherapy pool before lounging under parasols sipping drinks and watching the colourful dragonflies zipping around by the swim pond, which offered cool waters for a dip.
The Spa’s well equipped changing rooms gave us plenty of space to shower and get ready at the end of the afternoon, so we were dressed and ready for our table at The Pass.
Those who have dined before at the hotel’s award-winning fine dining venue will know that it has a reputation for the high standards of its dishes.
With just 28 covers, The Pass provides an intimate setting, taking the Chef’s Table concept to a new level.
The team of chefs, led by Tom Kemble, can be seen in the open kitchen, busily preparing the dishes for the six and eight course tasting menus. The attentive and knowledgeable team were there to guide us through the menu choices and wine list, checking our dietary requirements.
A succession of beautiful plates were presented to us by the chef responsible for its creation, each explaining the details of the dish, where each item was sourced and why particular ingredients had been selected.
The menu took us on a magical journey of deep and complex flavours, from silken tofu with sweet ginger verjus tomato and sesame, to flavourful Cornish crab, and delicate courgette flowers picked from the hotel’s own garden.
The Binchotan grilled Barbary duck breast was mouth-wateringly tender, beautifully contrasted by Kentish cherries and a salad of turnips and roasted endive.
Elderflower and buttermilk panna cotta was complemented by soft raspberries and silky pistachio sorbet, and a vine peach tarte decorated with gold leaf and served with lemon verbena ice cream finished off a delightfully interesting and satisfying meal, rounded off with Blue Mountain coffee and petit fours.
With food and facilities like this, it’s no wonder that South Lodge attracts visitors from all over the world.