It was the 186 acres of landscaped woodland around the Ashdown Park Hotel that inspired the famous AA Milne Winnie The Pooh story – Hundred Acre Wood. And no wonder. It’s a joyful look at green lawns that are home to a lilly lake, wishing bridge, and even a garden hidden from lovers. This 18-hole golf course offers a varied landscape that meanders through the forest.
Winnie is nowhere to be found, but you can see deer roaming free, rabbits appear out of nowhere, and watch the resident llama or alpacas being taken for their daily walk. It’s almost too cute.
Luxurious surroundings are found in this listed neo-Gothic mansion. A posh and well-oiled hotel – everything runs smoothly. A small reception is located in the main house, which is discreetly housed behind a mahogany desk and makes room for the grandeur of the hallway and the impressive staircase, the massive stone fireplace and a baby grand piano. You walk through old stone arches into stately salons, see lots of polished mahogany and ornate decorations and plush furniture in muted colors. Some may call it dated. I call it a lovely English setting.
If this sprawling Gothic property is reminiscent of a chapel, with stained glass windows in every nook and cranny, it’s because it was once the home of Sister Marie Saints Anges of the Order of Notre Dame, who bought it and used it as a convent. They stayed for 50 years before the church was desecrated. Barclays used it as a management school before being bought by Elite Hotels in 1993.
Ideal for any celebration, whether it is a celebration of love, anniversary, family or just that.
There are 105 spacious rooms, some are historic rooms with traditional muted, calming cream or rose tones as a theme, sometimes with oak walls. Televisions and Nespresso machines are included, and the bathrooms are sleek with bath products and Molton Brown soaking tubs.
All have a view of the grounds and the parkland. If you stay in the Fairway Suites next to the Country Club, you will have a view over the golf course. The most opulent are the master suites, which sometimes have a four-poster bed.
Those lucky enough to stay in the Magnolia room are given a gorgeous round stained glass window to look at while spending a dime.
Note: Although there is no elevator – there are only two floors, Ashdown has a wheelchair accessible room on the ground floor.
In the nearby Country House there is a modern spa with a spa with Kerstin Florian treatments and a large indoor pool with whirlpool. Bring a club if you want to use the tennis courts or your golf clubs to take advantage of the landscaped 18-hole, 3-par golf course that leads you through the forest.
There are many opportunities for walking or cycling. In a stately home, you can play croquet on a specially landscaped lawn.
It’s worth mentioning that the Ashdown Park Hotel is a good choice for a wedding reception. The Richard Towneley Suite is a towering converted chapel with vaulted ceilings and beautiful stained glass windows that let in a pleasant glow. There’s even an original organ and wedding bells to set the scene.
to eat and drink
Some only come here for afternoon tea, which is served on the lawns or in one of the two drawing rooms. A casual all-day menu is available in these rooms, as well as in the bar.
The stately Anderida Restaurant is an elegant gourmet restaurant with 2 AA rosettes. It has a dress-for-dinner atmosphere with an automated ringing grand piano. Expect an amuse bouche and palate cleanser between courses. The attentive service is calm and relaxed. So keep this in mind if you are in a hurry.
The menu features traditional dishes like fried pork and Wellington beef. I started with a leek and potato soup that came with hearty popcorn. It sounded dubious, but it tasted really good. Then came the corn-fed chicken and followed with a banana cake.
Breakfast is also served at the Anderida with a continental buffet, a selection of made-to-order dishes and a traditional English menu.
Afternoon tea (from £ 26 per person) is served in the cozy lounges, on the terrace or as a picnic in the summer months. Children can enjoy afternoon Winnie-the-Pooh tea (£ 10.95 per child) with delicacies like Tiggers sponge and “hunny” sandwiches.
Ashdown Forest is located between the historic towns of East Grinstead, Uckfield and Crowborough. This means that it is close to Glyndebourne, perfect for music lovers. Seven minutes ‘walk from Ashdown Forest Center, with numerous hiking and biking trails, and 10 minutes’ drive from Hartfield’s Pooh Sticks Bridge.
Is Wi-Fi available?
Yes, in the whole hotel.
Stay from £ 162 per room (two people) including a wide variety of breakfast options
East Grinstead Rail Station is 15 minutes away by cab. Trains to London take an hour and 20 minutes.