Well Intentioned: A Winter Wellness Guide to Sussex

Enjoy the wild swimming pool as part of a wellness weekend at the spa at South Lodge
Enjoy the wild swimming pool as part of a wellness weekend at the spa at South Lodge | Courtesy of South Lodge / Expedia.com
Emma Sparks

Hunker down for a weekend filled with country-house hotels, yoga classes in converted churches and wild walks on sandy beaches.

Commanding a generous slice of England’s rugged south coast, Sussex is all about the great outdoors. Winters here are some of the mildest in the UK, meaning there’s ample opportunity to explore the region’s chalky cliffs, light-dappled woodlands and dramatic beaches in comfort, before retreating to the nearest country pub or hot tub. Ready to feel restored? Here are some of the best ways to slow down in Sussex.

1. South Lodge

Spa Hotel, Luxury

The indoor infinity pool overlooking woodlands at the spa at South Lodge
Courtesy of South Lodge / Expedia.com

This vast luxury hotel sits within 93 acres (38ha) of stroll-worthy gardens and woodland on the border of South Downs National Park. A wellness weekend here could include zumba and spin classes, bamboo-cane massages and a dip in a steamy outdoor hydrotherapy pool, followed by a deep night’s sleep in a four-poster decked out with lavender-scented pillows. There are three noteworthy restaurants, but Botanica is the best for light, feel-good grub: think poached peaches with granola and pistachio falafel salad.

2. Camber Sands Beach

Natural Feature

A sunny day at Camber Sands Beach, the only sand dune beach in East Sussex
© Rubinowa Dama / Depositphotos.com
On crisp, cold winter days when the sky burns blue, nothing beats a coastal walk. Most beaches in Sussex are pebbly, but Camber Sands is a sandy delight backed by a warren of windswept dunes. The beach can be reached on foot from the quaint little town of Rye, via a scenic off-road trail – save time for a pint at the ancient Mermaid Inn on your return.

3. Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa

Boutique Hotel, Spa Hotel

Deluxe traditional room with four-poster bed, tapestries and exposed-beam ceilings at Bailiffscourt Hotel and Spa
Courtesy of Bailiffscourt Hotel and Spa / Expedia.com

With tennis courts, fitness classes galore and two heated pools, this seaside bolthole in Climping is a dreamy spot to work out and chill out. The place is only 100 years old, but looks positively medieval – many of the characterful rooms have roll-top baths, vaulted ceilings and plump four-poster beds. Don’t miss the Sussex barn-style spa – sleep-inducing massages take place on waterbed treatment tables. If weather allows, blow away the cobwebs on a walk along Climping Beach.

4. Petworth House and Park

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark

A view across a pond toward Petworth House, West Sussex
© Slawek Staszczuk / Alamy Stock Photo

Art lovers are well catered for at this National Trust-owned stately home. English romantic painter JMW Turner was a regular visitor, and a number of his paintings – including some of the estate itself – hang around the house. The 700-acre (280ha) park, open 365 days a year, is home to England’s largest herd of fallow deer. In Petworth town, you’ll find cobblestone streets lined with antique shops and cosy pubs with roaring open fires.

5. The Goodwood Hotel

Independent Hotel, Hotel

The ornate fireplace and cosy seating area in the lounge of the Goodwood Hotel
Courtesy of the Goodwood Hotel / Expedia.com

There’s a long list of feel-good activities on offer at this historic sporting estate, from sunset yoga and guided forest walks to adrenaline-pumping flying lessons and vintage-car test drives. If that all sounds too much, you can always stick to the spa. Be sure to book well in advance to secure a room, as well as a table at the sustainable restaurant, Farmer, Butcher, Chef.

6. Space Yoga Studio

Yoga Studio

Diverse people doing warrior one asana
© Fizkes / Depositphotos.com

There’s something about the hushed tones and self-reflection that come with visiting a church that calms the soul. But St Augustine’s Centre in Brighton goes a step further, having shed its ecclesiastical role to become a welcoming wellbeing centre for all. The spirit-lifting studio within – lit by Himalayan salt lamps – is run by Space Yoga and hosts classes suitable for all abilities, as well as sound baths and breath workshops.

7. Swanbourne Lake and Lodge

Tea Room, British

A table set for English afternoon tea, with traditional china and a tower of scones, finger sandwiches and desserts at centre
© Kevin Nicholson / Alamy Stock Photo

Pull on your wellies and go for a wintry stroll around Swanbourne Lake’s 2.2mi (3.5km) walking trail, found on the forested edge of the South Downs. A sweet reward for your efforts awaits in the Grade II-listed tearooms. Treat yourself to traditional English afternoon tea, including fruit scones and finger sandwiches, or tackle a wedge of lemon and blueberry cake, along with a white hot chocolate topped with marshmallows.

8. Harriet’s of Hove

Shop

Doing good feels good – so why not do your bit to save the planet from more single-use plastic while you stock up on sweet treats and self-care products? This zero-waste shop in Hove has everything from kitchen cupboard essentials and household cleaning products to artisan candles and organic chocolate. For extra brownie points (and endorphins), you could always do a two-minute beach clean on the shingle beach, a 15-minute walk away.

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