Ashdown Park spa and hotel review

MF’s art director Ped Millichamp heads to the Sussex countryside for a relaxing break

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Looking for a country house hotel that offers a winning combination of outdoor activities, spa and fitness facilities and fine dining? Then Ashdown Park Hotel & Country Club, set in the beautiful surroundings of Ashdown Forest – the inspiration for AA Milne’s Winnie The Pooh stories – fits the bill perfectly.

Upon our arrival, we immediately felt transported back to a bygone age of decadence and elegance. The decoration and furnishings of our Master Suite were stunning, and with the croquet lawn on view just outside our window along with the sprawling Ashdown Park forest, we could have been in an episode of Downton Abbey. 


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As I was halfway through a three-month body transformation for MF, my first port of call was the gym. While not the largest hotel gym I’ve visited, it was well equipped with a good mix of cardio and weights machines and free weights. A quick Tabata session on the rower got my heart rate up before I hit the weights for some bench presses and single-arm dumbbell pulls. Afterwards it was off to the sauna and steam room – unfortunately these are in the changing rooms, which meant I couldn’t rejoin my wife Claire until we went through to the swimming pool and whirlpool spa. This proved to be a tranquil area, and I enjoyed an hour relaxing before my massage.

I’d opted for the VitaMan Sports Massage as a treat for reaching the halfway mark of my transformation (my body had taken a bit of a beasting!) while Claire decided on a facial. My masseuse assessed the areas of my body that I felt needed the most attention and started the treatment using the spa’s Desert Muscle Rub. After an hour of pummelling I certainly felt relaxed and alleviated of any muscular tension. Claire emerged from her Ashdown Classic Facial – a treatment combining exfoliating peel, massage and a deep-cleansing masque to nourish the skin – looking and feeling healthy.


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After a game of snooker in the cocktail bar (and a failed attempt to teach Claire the words of ‘Snooker Loopy’) we took our table for dinner in the impressive Anderida Restaurant. It has two prestigious AA Rosettes, so our expectations were high and even though I was restricted by a strict dietary plan, I was suitably impressed. My main course was the fillet of beef Wellington with dauphinoise potatoes, wild mushrooms and caramelized shallots which was cooked and presented to perfection – I couldn’t eat the pastry, but it was the finest bit of beef I’ve tasted in a long while. Claire opted for the vegetarian option of goat’s cheese tart, aioli, pesto and spinach - not the largest portion but delicious.

Following a breakfast of poached eggs and salmon (both Continental and cooked breakfast options were also available) we headed out for a game of tennis, which I followed with a legs session in the gym. To end our stay we decided to take a couple of hours to walk one of the many trails the hotel has highlighted for its guests. The grounds and surrounding forest are stunning – a must-see. At one point I’m certain that I saw Pooh and Tigger crossing over an old wooden bridge to cross a stream but then again, I may just have overdone the Tabata rows that morning...

Boy and Girl

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Wych Cross, East Grinstead RH18 5JR

01342 824988

Ped Millichamp

Between 2014 and 2015, Ped Millichamp was the art director of Men’s Fitness UK, which predated and later shared a website with Coach. Ped undertook a body transformation challenge and blogged about it, as well as reviewing spa weekends.