As a Christmas present Will and I were given a lovely experience of afternoon tea at the South Lodge Hotel in Horsham. An exclusive 5* luxury venue, it overlooks the South Downs and has a very traditional British feel.
On arrival you’re led through from the large reception to one of the downstairs rooms, immaculately decorated. If you can imagine, it’s like walking into the past with regal seating, wooden walls and old portraits lit by lamp light.
Arriving half an hour early, this wasn’t a problem and we were led to our corner table, already set, and presented with local sparkling wine.
As we took in our surroundings and relaxed there was a background noise of friendly conversation and just within hearing, the bustling of the numerous wait staff. As we were early we had plenty of time to make ourselves at home and that was perfect. Afternoon tea is something you just don’t want to rush.
Before our edible treats arrived, we were served a pot each of their speciality tea and throughout the afternoon we were able to pick several different varieties from the extensive menu. Many are locally supplied which adds to the occasion as you’re not given anything typical.
South Lodge Afternoon Tea
The presentation itself is tantalising, with a tier of mixed cakes and pastries above a layer of plain and fruit scones, on top of a plate of various sandwiches. To begin you start savoury and sample the sandwiches. On this day ours included coronation chicken and fresh salmon.
From the few afternoon teas I’ve had, including the Ritz’s version, it’s the scone that exemplifies the overall quality for me and the South Lodge offered crumbly, buttery goodness. Partnered with their strawberry jam, it would be difficult to compete.
The cakes and pastries (after a long break) are the most adventurous treats of the afternoon, not least because by the time you try them you will have forgotten what most of them are meant to be! Each one is a mini-architectural wonder and almost a shame to destroy, but the flavours and textures make it worth digging in.
The cakes and sandwiches vary depending on seasonality as the hotel changes the menu to keep it fresh. All of the three tiers are replenish-able, and we saw some tables make the most of this, however the original serving is rather generous. We had a second helping of the sandwiches and didn’t finish all four scones.
Views of the South Downs
Whichever room you’re seated in, I’d recommend heading outside to enjoy the panoramic views from the back of the hotel onto the beautiful South Downs. In a giddy state of fullness we watched the sunset and enjoyed the fresh winter air.
We were joined outside by a box of cake that you receive in addition to the initial afternoon tea tiers. It’s safe to say most end up taking this home!
Once the sun set on our afternoon we took a short walk inside to view more of the interior and sat in the reception area by the fireplace. At no point do the staff rush you.
In essence, what makes the South Lodge Hotel afternoon tea is the setting; the decor, the views and the great service. For two it currently costs £80 with sparkling wine, or £59 without. Our experience here lasted four hours.
If you’ve got any questions just let me know with a comment and I’d be happy to help!