As beautiful settings go, Ashdown Park hotel East Sussex certainly has the ‘wow’ factor. It’s easily one of the best hotels in East Sussex and a hotel with stunning views: walking through a stone arch to the garden terrace, the view suddenly opens out in front of you: acres of rolling green countryside, two fountains bubbling away in a carp-filled lake at the bottom of the hill, an imposing converted chapel, the sweep of the hotel itself and colourful clumps of rhododendron bushes as far as the eye could see.
The hustle and bustle of the outside world just melted away and I felt as if I could just sit and admire the view for hours. Which, aided by a G&T and the Sunday newspapers, I promptly did.
Owned by Elite Hotels which also owns Luton Hoo, Tylney Hall and The Grand in Eastbourne, Ashdown Park, once part of Ashdown Forest, was built in 1867 by Durham MP Thomas Thompson, who when he died left in his will a black suit to each of his employees so they would be smartly dressed for his funeral.
After a variety of owners and uses, including being a convalescent home for Belgian army officers, a training centre for novice nuns and bank managers (not at the same time) and an offshoot of an American university, it was bought by Elite in 1993 and has 106 bedrooms and suites as well as a health club and an 18-hole golf course. Hotels in Sussex with spas and golf courses are not rare but seldom do they come in surroundings as pretty as Ashdown Park.
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Bedrooms at Ashdown Park
The hotel itself is vast, as we soon found out on the long trek to our room at the very furthest and highest end of the west wing. The room, Sycamore, was a good size, with an immaculate bathroom and great views over the grounds.
The terrace itself was a perfect place to sit in the sun and enjoy the view, although the rather hefty prices deterred me from sampling the food.
Dining at Ashdown Park
However that did mean I had a hearty appetite by dinnertime, which was just as well as the food in the Anderida restaurant was very good indeed, particularly the crab starter which came in a variety of dishes and styles, including bisque and potted, and the ‘poached and roasted beef sirloin’ which was deliciously tender.
The Millionaire Chocolate dessert was huge but very tasty, while the selection of British cheeses was excellent, including Baron Bigod Brie from Suffolk and the wonderful Driftwood goats cheese from Somerset.
Service was quick, efficient and staff were knowledgeable and thankfully only once asked ‘Is everything alright?’ (when I’d asked for the scallops to be slightly hotter) so we were left to enjoy our meal uninterrupted.
Breakfast was excellent too, with a wide variety of buffet offerings and dishes cooked to order, with a nice additional touch of having an express menu to choose from, which meant you could be served bacon and eggs instantly if you were in a rush but it did away for the need to have hot plates in the dining room.
After breakfast we took our coffees to the terrace and sat all morning in the sun, drinking in the view and being very glad we weren’t stuck in the office that day.
After a morning of inactivity it was time to explore the grounds which made for a very pleasant hour or so, finding everything from a Secret Garden to the Bluebell woods, where we met a couple of llamas from the neighbouring Llama park on their morning walk. The spa pool looked a good size too.
There was just time to take a look at the converted chapel which has spectacular stained glass windows created by famous 19th century artist Harry Clarke before heading off to the A23, but I will certainly be back to my spot on the terrace before long.
Hotel information and to book Ashdown Park hotel
Ashdown Park Hotel
Wych Cross nr Forest Row
East Sussex RH18 5JR
01342 826 206
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Ashdown Park is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World
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