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So on a bright and sunny Monday morning, feeling smug as everyone else clocked into work, we loaded up our electric BMW iX3 – the perfect car for city and country driving, we discovered. I wouldn’t usually feel confident driving an electric car out of the city – however, not only does the iX3 have a fantastic range of 285miles, but the hotel had plenty of charging points for guests to use, so we could have charged it up had we wanted to – and it charges to 80 percent in just 34 minutes, which is one of the fastest I’ve come across.
Because we didn’t even have to think about the range on the car, we clicked in our destination on the sat nav and opted for the scenic route from our home in London to South Lodge, enjoying a beautiful smooth drive along country roads.
Pulling in to the hotel, we were treated to a long sweeping drive on the approach, before turning in to the ample car park with the aforementioned electric charge points. It was busy, even on a Monday, thanks in part to the outstanding spa (more on that later), but I was able to manouvre into a tight space thanks the iX3’s parking assistant system which showed me all angles to ensure zero mistakes.
We arrived long before check in time, as we wanted to explore, and staff were friendly and helpful, offering suggestions of nearby lunch spots and things to do in the area.
After a hearty pub lunch at The Crabtree, which was recommended by the front desk, we checked in.
We stayed in a Plush Junior Suite, with gorgeous views of the grounds. All of the rooms are named after local sights, historically important people, and flora and fauna.
Our room was huge – a massive, supremely comfortable bed, winged back armchair, sofa and dining table.
Truly impressive was the bathroom, which featured a bath with TV and walk in shower with both waterfall and body showerheads. Products were exclusive to the hotel, and featured rich scents such as lavender and fig.
This is the big draw – at 44,000 sq ft, it has everything you could possibly want, from a fitness centre to treatment rooms and more besides.
My other half and I spent a day moving from the salt steam room to the infused sauna to the outdoor hydrotherapy pool. Brave guests can also take a dip in the outdoor wild swimming pool, and there is of course an indoor pool for swimming gentle lengths.
Right by the outdoor pool is The Watershed, for drinks, snacks and even gelato to enjoy throughout the day. I left my partner sipping a latte while I headed inside for a massage – 60 minutes of pure bliss.
It was busy, but never felt crowded, and guests and staff alike were friendly, meaning there was none of the chi-chi “see and be seen” atmosphere I’ve experienced (and hated) in other luxury spas.
As expected in a hotel of this calibre, there are a few options for food. We returned to the spa area for dinner, home to Botanica restaurant.
Robes are welcome in the day, but the mediterranean restaurant steps it up a gear at night.
There was plenty of choice for me, a vegetarian, but my meat-eating partner was also well catered for. In keeping with holistic surroundings, the food leaned towards healthy – although indulgence was on offer in the form of dessert. Chocolate and cheesecake and sundae, oh my!
For breakfast the next morning, we opted for the opulence of a full English in the room. Eating at our dining table looking out onto the green lawns, Radio 3 playing in the background, was heaven. For those feeling more sociable, breakfast is usually served in Camellia restaurant, which is also open for formal dining in the evenings.
The Final Word
I think the true mark of a good hotel is that you immediately want to book again on checking out – and if I could stay here every week, I would.
I left feeling refreshed, relaxed and pampered, and I can’t wait to hop into the iX3 and drive back to South Lodge again soon.
South Lodge hotel and spa, rooms from £300 per night. For more information visit https://www.exclusive.co.uk/south-lodge/
BMW iX3 is priced at £57,730 OTR. For more information, visit https://www.bmw.co.uk/en/all-models/x-models/iX3/2021/bmw-ix3-highlights.html
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