REVIEW: ASHDOWN PARK HOTEL, OLD SCHOOL GLAMOUR IN THE HEART OF WINNIE THE POOH COUNTRY
Driving through the Sussex countryside, on my way to Ashdown Park Hotel & Spa, it is easy to see why A. A. Milne fell in love with this part of the country. This is where he found the inspiration for his Winnie the Pooh stories. The leaves on the trees are an array of Autumn colours, changing from green through to red and with every turn in the winding road I can imagine Pooh Bear, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore stumbling in the bracken through One Hundred Acre wood, the scenery is simply stunning.
I head up the vast driveway and quickly see the hotel poking majestically through the trees. Behind the Gothic facade of this country hotel lies a mix of old and new, with the Country Club facilities including a sprawling Spa which is adjacent to the main building, a heated indoor swimming pool and 18-hole par 3 golf course.
As I walk into the main part of the hotel, it is hard not to notice the wood panelling, original features or the roaring log fire, all of which add to the traditional charm of the hotel. After a relatively quick check in, I am shown to one of the suites in the main building. The suite is large and spacious, and there is a grand four poster bed, desk and lounge area which is perfect to ensure complete relaxation. A fabulous Jacuzzi takes centre stage is the large bathroom (mental note to self: must enjoy a soak in the tub and a glass of wine later) and Molton Brown toiletries are neatly placed beside the sink - always a winner with me as I love Molton brown.
Whilst waiting for my husband, Mr Splendour to arrive, I set about finishing off a recent article. However, I was slightly distracted by the view across the countryside which surrounds the hotel, it is enchanting, as were the handmade truffles that were left as a welcome gift, I just couldn’t stop myself from eating the whole box - bang went the diet. Maybe a glass of Rioja will help. After all, wine at 4.30 in the afternoon is perfectly acceptable, isn’t it? Needless to say, it did the trick, not only was I impressed with the wine list, my writers block had vanished.
Mr Splendour arrived a little after five and proceeded to drink my bottle of Rioja before dinner (honestly, is nothing sacred). Our reservation was for 7pm, so we went down a little earlier to sample one of the bars vast number of gins. The bar area is fabulous, with modern decor and the most amazing velvet seats. We sat there with our large gin & tonics, people watching for a while - content with our little slice of luxury.
Cocktails finished, and we head into the Anderida restaurant to start our fine dining experience. We opted for the three-course set menu, which was full of locally sourced produce. For starter I had pork tenderloin, and Mr Splendour opted for smoked salmon terrine. Both dishes were fantastic but the piece de resistance was undoubtedly the main course. As always, I like to try new things and went for the Guinea Fowl Supreme with dauphinoise potatoes. This dish was rich and indulgent and dare I say, sensational. Mr Splendour couldn’t resist the Lamb rump, which was another outstanding choice. We did indulge in the glorious desserts that were on offer with the cinnamon creme brulee being the popular choice, again these dishes did not disappoint.
Feeling full, we end our evening in the bar before retiring for the night. Whilst watching the TV in our suite, we couldn’t help but notice how wonderfully quiet the hotel was, which was unusual as it was running at high occupancy due to a wedding that was happening the following morning.
Following a great night’s sleep, we had to be up early and down for breakfast at 7am due to work commitments. Feeling slightly jaded from the night before, a full English breakfast was called for and what a treat it was, it was polished and packed full of flavour. Feeling refreshed, I was given a tour of the hotel and its grounds with Aiden Smith, the Assistant Manager. I must say that I was impressed with all aspects of the hotel and country club, the staff were incredibly helpful and professional. Luckily, the hotel had a wedding on and I was able to see the chapel and bar in its full glory, what a stunning place for a wedding, it should definitely be on every brides wish list.
Ashdown Park Hotel is not showy or pretentious, in fact the atmosphere encourages you to fully relax. We had such a wonderful stay. I would say it is a country escape that caters for both adults and children and would highly recommend it for a welcome break.
Room prices start from £142 To make a reservation Click here
Set three course meal £42.50pp To view the menu Click here
Ashdown Park Hotel
Wych Cross, Forest Row, East Grinstead, RH18 5JR