More Than A Fantasy

Ashdown Park Hotel is renown for its excellent service and wonderful surroundings and Absolute’s Alan Prior visited the large country mansion to see for himself

You would be forgiven for thinking you had stumbled into an Edwardian fantasy as you enter Ashdown Park Hotel.

My partner and I certainly did as we approached the spectacular country mansion that dates back to 1867. With spring bursting into full bloom, at first we were greeted by a sunny morning and the impressive floral colours on offer across the beautiful grounds as we pulled up to the entrance.

We were then welcomed by the valet who parked my car as we made our way inside to the foyer where the infectious scent of timber fires eases you in. Before we even had time for introductions, we were addressed by the friendly receptionist who knew already who we were and where we were booked in.

I am lucky enough to say that I have had the pleasure of enjoying the comfort of a number of luxurious hotels throughout my life but, after being shown to the room, I must admit it is the most enormous hotel room I have ever encountered.

Filled with retro G Plan styled furniture, it transported me back to my mum and dad’s living room, providing an inner sense of homeliness, which was willingly embraced. The lakeside room provided stunning views as well as plenty of treats, from the large Jacuzzi bath to the cosy three-piece suit to the expertly crafted dark chocolates awaiting us.

If first impressions were anything to go by we were well and truly mesmerised by what we had seen up until now.

We had arrived at mid-afternoon and so by now we were ready for a glass of champagne as we took the opportunity to test the comfort of our king-sized bed.

My partner and I then decided to indulge ourselves further as we took a stroll around the beautiful grounds, which I’m sure are a spectacular sight at any time of the year.

Deep in the heart of Ashdown Forest, the inspiration behind A. A. Milne’s Winnie The Pooh stories, you are secluded from the hustle and bustle of city life, with little to distract you from the ground’s beauty other than the chirps of birds in the trees above and the odd squawk from the Canadian Geese resting by the lakeside.

At around six we made our way to the bar area, although, not before I had been kindly reminded by the receptionist that I would need my jacket to enter the restaurant when we moved on. A few gin and tonics later and we were more than ready to make our way into the restaurant.

Walls adorned with constable-styled landscape paintings, we settled down into the laid back atmosphere that was topped off by the resident pianist and began to browse the menu.

To kick things off I chose the delicious Foie Gras and Duck Confit with Salsify Caramelized Baby Onion Terrine, which was cooked to perfection, while my partner chose the Asparagus, Quail Egg Mazuna Salad with Parmesan Crisp that she praised highly.

After a break to savour the cuisine’s delights we moved onto the main course. My partner chose the Roast Fillet of Wild Sea Bass with Tomato Regout, Carrot and Panache of Green Vegetables and I selected the Traditional Beef Wellington with Pomme Cocotte, French Bean and Chantenay Carrot with Madeira Jas. I can easily say it was the best Beef Wellington I have ever tried.

To finish off, we decided to share the White Chocolate and Pistachio Mousse wrapped in Dark Chocolate, which was rich but far from overpowering, as it was finished off in next to no time.

While the food was absolutely delectable, the service of the staff was equal to the cuisine’s delight and made the whole experience a pleasure that will not be forgotten.

The next morning we decided to make the most of the extensive facilities by taking a dip in the hotel’s swimming pool. As you enter, you are greeted with a smile and handed a gown before hitting the lanes for a few lengths.

While we enjoyed the luxurious pool and spa, there is plenty more to keep you occupied; from the 18 hole golf course to the two all-weather tennis courts alongside some of the best mountain bike trails you can find anywhere in Sussex.

Rather frustratingly we soon realise it is time to pack up and check out of this paradise and, after saying our farewells to the ever-friendly staff, we set off back down the flowing drive, already excited to return to this fantasy.

To find out more information about Ashdown Park Hotel and Country Club, visit the website or call 01342 824988.