Every parent knows how hard it can be going away with kids. Add a luxurious venue to that equation and most parents will start to feel stressed just at the thought of the expectations of well-behaved little ones. The Ashdown Park Hotel is thankfully not at all like this. Despite being one of the most high-end places we’ve stayed we were made to feel incredibly welcome, at home and well looked after at every point during our recent family stay. I was consistently impressed with the service we received from staff, who went out of their way to accommodate our children treating them more like VIP’s than needing to be seen and not heard. Of course, this had a knock on effect of our own enjoyment because happy kids means happy parents! We packed a lot into our one night stay, there’s plenty to keep all ages occupied – here’s just a taster of what’s available for families at this stunner of a hotel.
About The Ashdown Park Hotel
The Ashdown Park Hotel is one of the finest, luxury hotels in Sussex. Located in the heart of the Ashdown Forest the hotel benefits from 186 acres of private grounds varying from woodland to sculpted lawns. The hotel prides itself in offering excellent dining and leisure facilities including an on site country club with gym and pool. Dating back as far as 1693 the hotel now boasts 79 guest rooms and suites, each with it’s unique style and parkland views.
Ashdown Park Hotel offer a Family Package that includes a Junior Suite, a goody bag for the children, a 2 course dinner for adults and a 3 course kids meal for younger guests, full English breakfast and use of the Country Club. They also offer seasonal packages such as Half Term breaks and free mid-week child stays.
We were invited to stay at the Ashdown Park Hotel for a mid-week stay during May half term. We live locally but that didn’t mean it was any less of an experience, the joy of staying here comes down to the grand buildings, the grounds and the fabulous staff. I was a little bit anxious that our kids might play up being more accustomed to camping than five star hotels, and I really wasn’t sure how they’d cope with fine dining and general hotel etiquette. But I needn’t have worried. The warm welcome they received allowed them to feel relaxed and carefree, as did we. I could definitely get used to this level of care and attention when we go away!
We stayed in a spacious Junior Suite with high ceilings and views across the grounds towards to pond and fountains. The children had their own room (still part of the suite) with one sleeping on a sofa bed and one on a Z-Bed. They had their own TV and storage with equally pretty views across the rear of the hotel. The main bedroom felt grand and bright with a super comfy king sized bed. We also had a dazzling bathroom (with family friendly bath) complete with Molton & Brown smellies. It’s always a joy to stay in any hotel where we don’t have to be split up or have the kids camped on tight floor space. It’s a rare treat to be able to enjoy hotel surroundings as a family without being on top of each other. Ashdown Park have several room options able to accommodate families which in itself is hugely refreshing.
We had our evening meal in the Anderida Restaurant which is a beautiful, award winning dining room. My kids have a bit of a reputation for making meal times quite challenging so I was really worried about how the evening might pan out. Again, the staff were quick to ease any of my concerns. Every member of the waiting team spoke directly to the children, joking with them, asking them what they would like and trying to accommodate even the most awkward of responses. I was also relieved to see several other families dining at the same time. With all of this is mind I felt increasing confident we could pull this off.
Young diners are given their own Winne The Pooh themed Children’s Menu with a good selection of starters, mains and desserts to suit every appetite. Both of our kids opted to try out the mini Cumberland Sausages with honey mustard mayo, followed by meatballs and spaghetti strings for mains.
The main Dinner menu was equally tantalising – we chose the Portland crab salad and Goats Cheese as starters followed by delicious mains of roast lamb loin and roast of the day (sirloin). Everyone course, every dish, every mouthful was divine.
This was a dining experience above and beyond anything I’ve experienced in recent years, certainly with kids in tow. We were presented with an amuse bouche before our starter (cue the kids saying – a what!?) as well as palate cleansing sorbets between courses. I was amazed at how well our children sat for the duration, trying (but not always liking) these new dishes and tastes. I know it’s a small thing but I genuinely felt quite proud, and it was a lovely way to spend an evening together.
Breakfast was another successful experience. With a blend of buffet style hot and cold choices available in addition to a few chef prepared dishes served from the kitchen this was the perfect way to start the day.
The Country Club and Spa is a short stroll up the drive from the main hotel. Children aged 12 and under are welcome to use the pool facilities between 9am – 12pm and 3pm and 6pm. We managed two visits to the pool during our stay. Both visits were quiet with just one or two other guests in the pool. Changing facilities are spacious and well equipped with everything from towels to hair straighteners provided. The pool itself is a little oasis of calm with tranquil blue lighting and soft loungers to relax on. Our children loved this pool and would happily have stayed here for hours.
There are 186 acres of grounds to explore from the front door of the hotel. We visited the pond after dinner to feed the carp our bread scraps, then ambled around the Woodland Trail for a post-breakfast stroll. The gardens include ancient trees, pretty rhododendrons, wild deer, a croquet lawn, a putting green and plenty of places for a game of hide & seek. The perfect playground to burn off a bit of energy before that long, leisurely evening meal.
The Ashdown Park Hotel is in a brilliant location for exploring the Ashdown Forest. We did a walk around Chelwood Vachery which is just 5 minutes from the hotel where you can explore sculptured waterfalls and stepping stone streams. There are so many fantastic family walks across the forest including Pooh Sticks Bridge, Nutley Windmill and EH Shepherd’s memorial lookout.
Slightly further afield there are a few local National Trust properties Sheffield Park and Standen House; or RHS Wakehurst for more beautiful gardens to explore.
Our stay at Ashdown Park Hotel has totally changed my perspective on high end hotels. I’ve always shied away from luxury stays as a family due to a fear of feeling out of place – but this was far from the experience we had here. We couldn’t have received a warmer, more accommodating welcome – a welcome that clearly extended to our children as well as the adults. Every need was catered for without delay, fuss or questioning. This was a memorable and massively pleasurable experience for us all. What a fab team you have working for you Ashdown Park Hotel, they really have done you proud!
Disclosure: We were invited to stay at the Ashdown Park Hotel as part of a family Press Trip to showcase aspects of a family stay. We genuinely loved every minute.