Great Places to stay in the British Countryside

The sun is out, the weekend is looking bright and I am thinking about a drive through the English countryside. There is something regal about visiting the countryside; beautiful gardens, golf settings, spa hotels, clay pigeon shooting, weddings, conferences and everything nice about country pursuits. There are quite a few countryside retreats to choose from and luckily in England, one is spoilt for choice; it is now simply a question of which one ticks most of the boxes for a delightful weekend away from the hustle and bustle of London.

Ashdown Park Hotel & Country Club fits the bill for a luxury retreat or events destination in the English countryside. Set in the beautiful location of Ashdown Forest (the inspiration for A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh stories), The Hotel & Country Club offers a slice of luxury in the heart of East Sussex, a county in South East England. It is bordered by the counties of Kent to the north and east, Surrey to the North West and West Sussex to the west, and to the south by the English Channel and lies between the historic towns of East Grinstead, Uckfield and Crowborough.

It has 18 meeting or events spaces. From intimate board meetings, to exclusive and private product launches, team building to off road driving they have a flexible approach to creating a solution that’s right, and within budget for your needs. The aim is to make your next meeting, conference, presentation or other business event one that your delegates will remember for a long time to come.

In 1867 the estate was acquired by Thomas Charles Thompson, a Member of Parliament at the time. He promptly knocked down the existing building and quickly set about building the neo-Gothic Victorian manor house which remains the heart of the hotel to this day. He also built the little church of St Richard de Wych to the east of the present estate, and a school for the local children. He even provided lunches for them, tradition of hospitality at Ashdown Park goes back a long way. Today, the old school building is used for staff accommodation.

Following the death of G K T Fisher who inherited the estate and was killed during the First World War 1917, the house became a convent and afterwards a corporate headquarters for an international bank, before being acquired by the Elite Group in 1993.

Four weddings were imminent when we arrived at the hotel and staff and event planners were very busy putting finishing touches to their preparations. Like every historic hotel, the décor was fashioned to suit its history. Each bedroom is unique with beds mostly draped with canopies. The leisure wing is modern and the main property keeps in line with tradition and history.

Conference setting in the historic chapel of Ashdown Park Hotel

What to do at Ashdown Park Hotel &Country Club in the morning
The great guys at Elite Hotels have done their best to make Ashdown Park Hotel an excellent Country Club and beautiful events and wedding location. The Elite hotels Group are a small, independent UK based hotel group, investing in some of the UK’s most beautiful historic houses since 1986. The Ashdown Park Hotel & Country Club is a member of this group.

Start the day with an early morning or late evening work out in the fully equipped gymnasium and indoor swimming pool. Golfers can pit their wits against our 18 hole, par 3 course, which meanders through the landscaped grounds, and if you enjoy a game of tennis, we have two all-weather courts, and the Spa at Ashdown Park will cater for every whim in the world of pampering.

The property is landscaped with an 18 Hole, Par 3 Golf Course and Driving Range and has a Spa that offers a wide range of beauty treatments, massage therapies and body treatments in luxurious surroundings where the emphasis is placed firmly on enhancing your peace and relaxation and overall sense of wellbeing.

Treatments have been specially designed in association with Kerstin Florian and VitaMan, for both men and women, so that everyone who visits the spa can enjoy a perfectly rounded spa experience.
Other facilities include:
• 6 Beauty Rooms & Nail Salon with two manicure stations and two pedicure stations
• Indoor Heated Swimming Pool with Loungers
• Whirlpool Spa
• Both male and female Sauna and Steam rooms with Eucalyptus Essence
• Aerobics studio with a full aerobics time table including Aqua Aerobics
• Exercise Classes
• Table Tennis
• Two all-weather Tennis Courts
• Fully equipped Gym
• Fairways Lounge and Brasserie
• Gift Shop / Golf Shop

Spa treatment at Ashdown Park Hotel

Dining at Ashdown
It is all about formal dining at the Anderida Restaurant where guests usually arrive 30 minutes before their reservation to enjoy pre-dinner drinks served in a relaxed atmosphere in the lounge areas. The food selection was good and very well presented. I must add that it was tasty too.

Breakfast is served in the same location but not so much with the same "pomp and pageantry" as lunch or dinner. Breakfast was very simple and fell short of my expectations.

The word Anderida means hunting ground in Roman which apparently reflects the wild game that roam in the forest as well as the Head Chef’s hunter’s eye for tracking down only the finest and freshest ingredients for your table.

I did not get to meet the Head Chef on this occasion but I am a “sucker” for formalities and attention and the staff at Anderida ensure that guests receive plenty of that. The room is large and well-lit with high windows, framed by heavy drapes, looking out over the surrounding gardens. It is also warm and cosy in evening candlelight, with an ambience that manages to be both grand yet relaxing at the same time.

The restaurant has been awarded two highly prestigious AA Rosettes. Children are welcomed too with a special Children’s menu available for both lunch and dinner.

Guests were enjoying Afternoon Tea and simple snacks all over the hotel either in the well-appointed lounges or at the Leisure Centre – makes your mouth water.

Tea service at Ashdown Park Hotel

Need a countryside break? You can always write to the traveldesk@executivetraveller.net for assistance.

Executive Traveller 2003