Nestled in the heart of the beautiful Sussex Countryside is a Hogwarts-esque estate, paying homage to its magical counterpart with a break that is guaranteed to take your breath away. And that is Ashdown Park Hotel.
They say that first impressions are the most important, and once you’ve stepped through the shadows of the breathtaking stone building and opened the large entrance doors of Ashdown Park Hotel, first impressions are already blown out of the water and you are well on your way to a hotel-love affair. The Entrance Hall features a grand fireplace, beautiful portraits adorning the walls and opulent décor; a sense of grandeur is evident yet also wonderfully welcoming.
Ashdown Park Hotel was first acquired by Thomas Charles Thompson in 1867 – a member of Parliament at the time – who promptly knocked down the existing building and set about building the neo-Gothic Victorian Manor which remains the heart of the Hotel to this day. Later owners of the house included G K T Fisher who inherited the estate only to be killed in 1917 fighting during the First World War. The house subsequently became a convent and afterwards a corporate headquarters for an international bank, before being acquired by the Elite Group in 1993 and Ashdown Park Hotel was born.
Everywhere you look in this hotel is luxurious, yet understatedly so. It is opulent yet not pretentious, spacious yet homey.
During our stay at Ashdown, we stayed in Suite 1 on the first floor. Upon opening the door, I couldn’t help but be surprised at the size of this room – for this room was huge. (I’ve seen smaller flats!) The bed was tucked to one side (and begging for a movie-style running jump to the soft pillows!) To the other side was a dressing table and wardrobe and the front of the room held a 3-piece suite and a television, ideal for curling up and watching a film after a long day. Large windows gave way to tumbling countryside views- Ashdown Park’s own lake, expansive golf course, croquet area and forested walking routes.
The bathroom is another real highlight – it has to be one of the best bathrooms I’ve ever seen – and with a large corner bath, heated tiled floor, rolling views and Molton Brown toiletries, you are thoroughly spoilt from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave.
During your stay there are multiple nice touches too – such as fresh fruit delivered halfway through the afternoon – that really set this Hotel apart from many others.
We spent our afternoon exploring the grounds, it’s an ideal place to pack a picnic and go and sit down by the lake. It is picturesque, serene and hosts a backdrop so stunning it is clear to see just why it’s so popular for weddings and events as well as personal stays.
Dinner at Ashdown Park Hotel truly is an affair not to be missed. From the Anderida Restaurant offering fine dining, to the Fairways lounge for something a little more casual, the al-fresco area for summer meals in the sunshine or the private dining area, Ashdown Park can cater for all occasions.
We dined in the Anderida – a beautiful room tucked away in the far end of the hotel, leading off from a beautiful bar – (it’s well worth relaxing here with a cocktail whilst waiting for your table.) The restaurant itself is really beautiful and worth visiting even if you’re not staying in the Hotel. With stunning high windows, heavy drapes and magnificent views accompanied by flickering candlelight this really is a restaurant set to impress. The chairs and tables are plush and luxurious, the atmosphere welcoming yet elegant and the service more than exemplary. The waiters are knowledgeable and only too happy to help. From selecting the wines to bringing over fresh bread and ensuring all the food is delivered promptly and to a high standard – we could not find any fault.
The food in itself is delicious – something reflected in the restaurants namesake- Anderida. Roman in origin and meaning hunting ground, it represents the wild game which roam in the forest, and also the Head Chef’s hunter’s eye for tracking down the finest and freshest ingredients. Having been awarded two highly prestigious AA rosettes and received glowing reviews from all around the country, its prestige really speaks for itself.
Starters range from Portland Crab Croquette to Poisson to Pork Loin to Goat’s Cheese Tart – catering for all tastes, preferences and dietary requirements. Each dish is cooked to perfection, flavoursome yet not overwhelmingly so.
Mains again provide a wide and varied choice, from 38 Day Aged Beef Ribeye to Thyme Roasted Saddle of Lamb to Olive Oil Poached Monkfish and so much in-between you are simply spoilt for choice. The meat was succulent, the vegetables just the right level between being crisp and tender and the accompanying sauces and sides ripe with flavour.
Dessert is worth saving space for at Ashdown – from all the British classics to a rustic cheese board you can’t go wrong. Such thought and care is put into each dish you leave the restaurant feeling more as though you have had an experience rather than just a meal. They create an evening of such fine food, service and ambience you’ll leave and wonder just how soon you can return.
Breakfast for all is served in the Anderida and I would say now this is one of the best Hotel breakfast’s I have ever experienced. The continental buffer is grand – no limp pastries and wilted fruit in sight! Instead crisp golden croissants, juicy apples and grapes and stacks of cereals are ready and waiting for you. The hot food is all cooked completely fresh and you can choose from the classic English, poached eggs and other traditional hot breakfast delights. We opted for the full English (because how can you turn it down?!) and we were not disappointed. Hot, delicious and flavoursome it had everything you could wish for from a traditional breakfast yet left us wondering just how they can do it so much better.
Ashdown Park Hotel is a real treat. It’s somewhere to show your other half just how much they mean to you. It’s somewhere to celebrate a special occasion, and it’s somewhere to retreat to and simply relax. From the moment you first pull up, to the moment you drive back out of the expansive driveway, you will be treated as though you are the only guests in the Hotel. Every aspect of the stay is so well thought of, each detail perfected to a tee, you will feel spoilt yet right at home and not one bit out of place.
I would not hesitate to recommend Ashdown Park and am already planning a return trip…
Seen in the City was hosted by Ashdown Park Hotel & Country Club, a member of Pride of Britain Hotels – a collection of 48 privately-owned independent British hotels. Set in East Sussex, within 186 acres of lakes, secret gardens and grounds, the hotel is in the heart of A.A. Milne and Winnie-the-Pooh land – Ashdown Forest. A one-night stay costs from £250 per room (two sharing) including breakfast and use of the spa. Call Pride of Britain Hotels for the best available rates on 0800 089 3929 (www.prideofbritainhotels.com).