Hot hens, luxe weddings and wow wines - it's time to put South Lodge Hotel in West Sussex on your venue radar. What's hot? The new Cellar at South Lodge, an 89-room country-house hotel in Horsham, West Sussex. Why? This 60sqm former storeroom has been transformed into an intimate space with exposed brick walls, low-level lighting and, naturally, racks of wine (there are 300 old and new world varieties to choose from, though if you have a penchant for Bordeaux you'll be in your element). The centrepiece is a fancy wine-dispensing machine, which lets you taste top-notch wines by the glass using a pre-paid charge-card. For example, you can sample 1995 Château Dauzac Margaux from £10.65 for a 50ml measure. We loved the Château Climens 1er cru Sauternes dessert wine.
A tasting in The Cellar is the perfect pre-dinner hen activity. But you can go the whole hog and combine dinner (the food is art on a plate) and wine tasting for eight to 20 people - perfect if you want to party in private. And don't worry if you don't know your Sauvignon Blanc from your Chenin Blanc; head sommelier Dominic Roberts will be on hand to guide you. Don't miss: For the ultimate hen experience, book Bothy Cottage, a self-contained, rustic-chic house set in its own garden. It sleeps up to 10, has plenty of space to party, and you can access all the hotel facilities, including room service. Hot property: South Lodge isn't just fab for hens; it's also a super wedding venue. It combines a beautiful 19th-century house, bookended by new wings, and has a variety of spaces to choose from, including a pretty terrace overlooking the South Downs, to the latest addition, The Pavilion, a licensed outside structure, which means you can say 'I do' against the backdrop of rolling green hills. There are grand reception rooms in the new South Wing that cater for 30 to 130 guests for a wedding breakfast and up to 200 for an evening reception. If it's character you're after, the main house features the Library Bar, with the original fireplace and a dramatic chandelier - perfect for a cosy celebration for 20; and the Drawing Room, a sweet spot for an afternoon-tea wedding - which, we are told, are on the up at the hotel. Room service: The rooms are all individually decorated, with big beds, huge bathrooms and more of those great South Downs views. For wow factor, the Monarch master suite hits the spot. It's vast, with an entrance hall, sitting and dining room, and bedroom; while the bathroom is knockout - lots of marble, a freestanding roll-top bath and illuminated shower with power jets. And for some alfresco fun, we recommend the Godman Suite, which has a hot tub on the balcony. The damage: Room hire for a wedding ceremony and reception from £850 for 8-30 people to £3,350 for 130. Exclusive hire from £18,000. Three-course menus from £52 per person. Traditional guest rooms from £260; traditional suites from £815; Bothy Cottage from £665, all room only. www.southlodgehotel.co.uk