- Function Rooms: 16
- Max Meeting: 0
- Max Dinner: 0
- Max Reception: 0
- Outdoor Capacity: 200
- Day delegate rate: £72-£80
- 24 hour delegate rate: £245-£400
- Bedrooms: 107
Ashdown Park Hotel & Country Club exterior
Certain people are, by definition, hard to impress, so when Square Meal invited a group of seen-it-all event-organising readers for a dinner and overnight stay out of London last summer, we knew we had a bit of a challenge on our hands. Needless to say, we needed to offer something quite special and, judging by the raving thank-you notes we received from our guests after the event, we chose the right place in Ashdown Park.
With its historic buildings set amid 186 acres of landscaped grounds, where a glittering blue lake sets off the lush greens of the lawn and surrounding forest, the hotel is quite simply a stunner. And, although it’s popular with weekending visitors (with a golf course, gym and spa on site, it’d be hard to keep them away), the hotel is also serious about events, offering facilities and service to match the grand surrounds.
At the heart of the property’s event space is a beautifully converted chapel, where gothic arches, stained glass windows and ornate wood carvings make for a real change from your usual function room (a given favourite for wedding receptions, it works surprisingly well for meetings and corporate dinners, too). Just like the 15 other rooms on offer, one of which opens out to its own patio for a bit of fresh air with the mid-meeting coffee, it has excellent lighting as well as natural daylight.
Looks aside, what really sets Ashdown Park apart is its staff and the level of service they offer (the Elite Hotels group didn’t win an Investor in People award for nothing). Whether you just want a straightforward meeting or meal to run smoothly or are trying to organise a more elaborate event, these guys are up to the challenge – the events team once organised a marathon five themed evenings in a row for the same company – and the kitchen is more than capable of backing them up.
Indeed, the ‘friendly, attentive staff’, ‘excellent food’ and ‘gorgeous setting’, were exactly what our fussy readers liked best about Ashdown Park. Sending their ‘thanks to all those involved in organising a flawless event’, they all agreed it was ‘lovely to get out of London and spend some time in such beautiful surroundings’. Now, we wouldn’t want all the praise to go to the management’s head, but when the likes of Fortesqueue’s Zilla Houghton reports that she was ‘certainly very impressed’, congratulations are in order. These guys are obviously doing something right.
Make the most of warm weather by booking an event in The Summerhouse, an outdoor room overlooking the lake in front of the main house. Open-fronted but with a substantial roof, it can hold 30 for a sheltered meal or meeting and host BBQs for 150 if the party spreads out onto the lawn – a perfect end to an action-packed day, making use of the hotel’s grounds and leisure facilities.
This feature appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events magazine - Spring 2004