Nestled in the forested heart of East Sussex lies the majestic Ashdown Park Hotel and Country Club – a stunning four-star hotel that wouldn’t look out of place within an Austen novel. Vast, spacious and filled with elegant splendour, Good Things’ Features Writer Sophie Ritchie discovers why it’s the ideal spot for a weekend escape… Even from the scenic drive up towards the hotel’s lavish entrance, it’s clear that luxury awaits. Perhaps it’s the grand entrance archway, or maybe the bustling and beautiful reception – but you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped out of ordinary life and into the world of countryside charm instead from the moment you set your bags down. Ashdown Park is undeniably classic. With its impressive rooms, plush interiors and grounds consisting of approximately 186 acres (a mixture of landscaped woodland and grazing land – where friendly wild deer roam freely) the gorgeous estate is a sight in itself to behold. Existing from as early back as 1893, the prestigious building has passed through the hands of many, from captains to even nuns. Nowadays, it’s a thriving and modern hotel – yet it’s still proudly emulating the same archaic charm from its historic past. Lavish lounging I was fortunate enough to stay in one of the hotel’s exclusive Fairway suites – a room that’s more spacious than the standard Deluxe Bedroom on offer at the hotel. Located a short stroll away from the main building, it provided the perfect haven of secluded comfort and elegant style. Even better for pet owners, the suite was dog-friendly too. The true jewel of the room, however, was not its enormous bath (complete with Molten Brown goodies) or lavish king-size bed – but the gorgeous view it offered across the sprawling grounds – giving me a glimpse of lakes, manicured lawns and the occasional stray deer each time I drew back the curtains. Decadent dining The food doesn’t at Ashdown Park doesn’t disappoint – think sumptuous British cuisine full of local and seasonal ingredients. The hotel’s Head Chef, Andrew Wilson, has earned its Anderida Restaurant two AA Rosettes and a reputation as being of the finest restaurants in Forest Row since joining in 2011. As part of our Ashdown Park experience, we were treated to an intimate banquet-style feast hosted in the spacious Richard Towneley Suite – a vast room which can cater from 2 up to 250 people. Each dish offered an emphasis on tradition, quality and indulgence – from a rich smoked salmon starter to an array of classic puddings featuring an extravagant trifle and moreish treacle pudding. Local activities With such an emphasis on local cuisine and quality British ingredients, it seemed fitting that we spent an afternoon visiting the nearby awe-inspiring Rathfinny Wine Estate – an outstanding wine estate that boasts not only postcard-esque views of the South Downs, but the equally impressive intention of producing some of the world’s best sparkling wine. Our experienced guide lead us through the estate – covering every part of the process from vineyard to machinery. Perfect for wine buffs and foodies alike, such tours are hosted regularly on select Fridays and Saturdays from April through to October – and make an ideal accompanying activity to embark upon during a relaxed stay at Ashdown Park. The verdict Traditional and tranquil – this Sussex hotel provides a wonderful weekend getaway throughout the year for anyone seeking a lavish countryside escape filled with good wine, good food and ‘good things’ galore. Where: Wych Cross, Forest Row, East Grinstead, RH18 5JR Price: Rooms start from £250 for a deluxe double room for two people, including breakfast Bookings: To make a reservation, click here or phone 01342 824988.