On the last Bank Holiday my mama and I headed, with a dog each, to Winnie the Pooh country, deep in Ashdown Forest, East Sussex, about an hour and a half south of central London.
Ashdown Park was once a convent, then a conference centre and now it’s a luxury hotel, with a golf course, spa and acres and acres of beautiful gardens and grounds for wandering. It’s really quite spectacular: there’s a converted church with tower, a huge extra wing off the main house, and of course the ex convent buildings.
We were very pleased to discover that the hotel allows dogs in the purpose built Fairways Suites, which back onto the golf course, a short walk from the main hotel buildings.
The rooms in the suites are decorated in what I call country house light: lots of swagging, repro furniture, stripey wallpaper, velvet squishy sofas, gilt bath taps and lots of florals. It’s all very comfy and cosy.
There were certainly no complaints on the comfort levels of the beds from certain members of our party.
The absolute best part of it was the door off the living area, which led onto a small outdoor patio and thus to the golf course.
It makes such a difference when staying with dogs in a hotel not to be woken at 5am, have to get dressed, carry the dog downstairs and put it out. Here all we had to do was open the door and let them out.
We’d been invited to Ashdown Park to attend their annual West End Musical Dinner, which took place in the converted church. Oh we DID have a wonderful time. Ashdown hosts a series of events and dinners throughout the year, but the Phantom and the West End evening is their show stopper. Literally. Not least because of the magnificent venue.
And the lovely mise en scene. I’m not generally a fan of what I call corporate event food, but this was by far the best — and most delicious — food I have ever eaten at an event. Absolutely scrumptious. (Main courses: Saddle of South Downs Lamb with Smoked Pork Belly & Wild Mushroom Farce, Leek & Truffle Dauphinoise and Confit Baby Onions for Mama, a really good mushroom pie for me.)
The production was by West End show band Too Darn Hot, and the three singers were bone fide West End headliners, and they belted out all the old standards, starting with the crashing organ chords from Phantom of the Opera, played on the chapel organ. Duets from Phantom, West Side Story South Pacific, Les Miserables, Chicago, High Society, My Fair Lady, and Cats followed. By the time they finished up with some ABBA from Mama Mia, the room was on its feet dancing. Even me. Here’s my mama rapt in the music.
The next morning we ate a huge recovery breakfast, and then took the woofs out for a major constitutional. Here’s my mama again, striding off with Billy, past the entrance to the converted church.
This is the main building of the hotel.
And the view from the bridge over the pond back towards the hotel buildings, with my mama and P Bad.
These are the ex-convent buildings which are now accommodation and public rooms.
We wandered around to the other side of the hotel, to explore the old kitchen gardens, which are now a delightful walled lawn.
And then with much regret we wandered back to the Fairway Suites, packed up the cars and drove our separate ways home.
Bye bye Bill
Ashdown Park Hotel & Country Club. Wych Cross, Nr Forest Row, East Sussex, England, United Kingdom, RH18 5JR www.ashdownpark.com
For £30.00 per night resident dogs will have use of their own dog basket, blanket & bowls along with dinner and a chew toy.
LLG, her mother, Billy the Whippet & Posetta Baddog were guests of Ashdown Park Hotel, Ashdown Forest & their Phantom of the Opera West End Musicals Evening