South Lodge, West Sussex
THE HOTEL: South Lodge is located in Horsham, West Sussex, set amid acres of woodland and parkland. The country house hotel has 89 rooms ranging from standard doubles to master suites. It is a member of the Exclusive Hotels group.
THE CHECK-IN: I was met at check-in by two friendly members of staff, one who completed the paperwork before the other took our bags and escorted us to our room.
THE ROOM: The spacious junior suite was beautifully furnished with a large king-sized bed and Egyptian cotton sheets. There was a desk, coffee table and two armchairs, tea and coffee-making facilities, iron and ironing board, hair dryer, digital TV, DVD player, iPod docking station and safe. The enormous bathroom consisted of a separate bath and walk-in shower, double basins and a TV built in to the foot of the bath. A pillow menu was available and, in a novel twist on the do not disturb sign, Minty the Sheep could be put outside the door for peace and quiet.
THE BUSINESS: The hotel has 12 meetings rooms situated across three floors, each with its own business centre. Meeting rooms have natural light and wifi access. Some of the rooms have private entrances and terraces offering useful breakout space. The hotel is a great venue for companies to meet away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Indeed, in 2009 it was host to the G20 summit. Delegate rates start from £120 per person. There's free wifi throughout the hotel.
THE FACILITIES: The hotel has two excellent restaurants. The Michelin-starred Pass offers a 'Chef's Table' concept where diners are close to the kitchen action, while Camellia features dishes using fresh veg from the hotel's walled garden. There's the Billiard Bar and Drawing Room for drinks and afternoon tea, plus a gym, tennis court and Mannings Heath golf course, a ten-minute drive away. The hotel also has a private cottage with six-bedrooms.
THE VERDICT: A beautiful hotel in a great setting for relaxed, rural meetings and events. It's a 30-minute drive from Gatwick Airport and there are plenty of opportunities for team-building activities.
THE DETAILS:South Lodge Hotel, Horsham, West Sussex. Rates start from £275 per night including breakfast and VAT. Tel: 01403 891711; see: www.southlodgehotel.co.uk.
Reviewed by David Clare (2013)