Inside South Lodge’s 44,000sqft Spa In The South Downs


Thanks to the pandemic, mental and physical wellbeing has been thrust into the spotlight more than ever before. It’s why a trip to the South Downs and a 44,000 sq ft spa was in order…

Although at times it feels like there’s BC (before-Covid) and AC (yes, you guessed it, after-Covid) periods in time, one element that has come out of the latter is the fact that physical and mental wellbeing is now a hot topic. This was an issue before a pandemic brought us all to a standstill and made us contemplate life a little more deeply, but it seems as if the past two years has taught many that it’s time to look after ourselves.

It’s why spas all over the county are in demand, and why they are coming up with new ways to enable us all to let go of our stresses and strains. A case in point is The Spa at South Lodge, in the South Downs, which is one of the biggest going – all 44,000 sq ft of it. A standalone building from the Exclusive Hotel, right from the moment you step foot inside you sense this something a little out of the ordinary.

The natural pool

Ian Mackie, the Spa Operations Manager here, is a man who knows his stuff and is only too happy to share it. “It’s an engaging lifestyle experience,” he says on what The Spa offers. Take the dressing rooms, for example. “They feature marble and etched glass showers and relaxing social spaces with comfy sofas, tiled ‘rugs’ and bookcases, all bespoke, designed to create a club-like feel,” Ian explains.

Stepping into The Spa, the softly lit relaxation zone that is the Thermal Suite certainly catches the eye – and is home to a whole host of experiences. “There is a panoramic juniper-infused sauna with organic profiled timber fins inspired by the rolling hills of the Downs, with full height glazing overlooking the garden,” Ian starts to reel off a list. “There is also a marble-lined steam room, aromatic herbal bath infused with camomile and hot experiential shower and cold drench. The jewel in the crown on this level is the forest green, marble-lined candlelit pool hall. It’s an indoor infinity edge ozone treated pool surrounded by relaxation beds with panoramic views onto the spa gardens and external pools including a 20m reed-lined ‘natural pool’.”

If that doesn’t get you reaching for your swimming costume, Ian delves a little deeper into what else makes The Spa unique. “It really is a lifestyle change for the better,” he says about our renewed interest in looking after ourselves. “We offer a wellness experience that is designed to stimulate all of the five senses. Sounds: listen to the sound of silence in our award-winning gardens. Taste: enjoy culinary delights in our Mediterranean-inspired Botanica restaurant. Sight: The Spa is nestled within an array of shades of green. Touch: the softness of the therapeutic touch to the invigorating wild pool. Smell: the beautiful bouquets from the herbs to the delightful aromatherapy oils.”

Vb South Lodge Spa Amy Murrell .cmyk
Inside the gym, photo by Amy Murrell

The ‘taste’ aspect is a key element that highlights The Spa’s USP. “The holistic and wellness ethos runs true in all our outlets,” Ian says, “none more so than in Botanica. Our head chef Jonathan Spiers uses the South Downs as his larder. Botanica is a non-dairy restaurant, leaning towards having more plant-based dishes – whilst not being a fully vegetarian/vegan restaurant, it takes into account allergies and dietary preferences wherever possible.”

The environment, too, is factored into the operation. “Sustainability is a key pillar of our business,” Ian states. “We are always challenging ourselves on the way we work and how we can make a positive contribution to the planet. We are extremely proud of our eco credentials, having Biomass boilers, a grass and sedum roof of The Spa that blends into the local woodland, a 20m long natural outdoor swimming pond, sustainable materials used in the building, such as green oak, and our natural reed bed sewage treatment all work seamlessly together in producing a magnificent state-of-the-art spa.”

Ian finishes by saying they want to be “the best wellness destination in the country”. Lofty ambitions, but a visit here will certainly leave you feeling sky high – and don’t we all deserve a little piece of that?


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