Features Editor, James Marchant took the opportunity to visit Buxted Park Hotel in Uckfield this month. Here, he describes his luxury experience for the leisure and business traveller
When I was offered the opportunity to review Buxted Park Hotel for this month’s edition of SBT, I headed to the Internet for some more details of what I could expect. A quick look at the Hand Picked Hotels website – who own Buxted Park along with a collection of similarly splendid former private residences covering the length and breadth of the UK – revealed that Buxted Park Hotel is a Grade II listed Palladian mansion. Built in 1722 by Sir Thomas Medley, the hotel is set in 312 acres of Ashdown Forest parkland with 44 bedrooms and 7 suites. The hotel also boasts a 2 AA rosette restaurant, and has been awarded the AA four red star inspector’s choice of country house hotel. Needless to say, I was excited.
I arrive on a reasonably bright Monday afternoon and drive leisurely down the long driveway – from which I am able to admire some of the surrounding parkland – and pull into the complimentary car park. A couple of signs direct me to the reception area where I’m greeted warmly by the receptionist and the General Manager. I have the privilege of staying in the Winston Churchill suite, so called as the man himself stayed there. It’s huge; complete with high ceilings with intricately decorated cornicing and tall windows through which the daylight pours, lighting the room nicely.
The room includes a generous Super King sized bed, writing table, sofa, coffee table, seating area, fireplace and, of course, tea and coffee making facilities. The room exudes the history and character of the hotel with its grand furnishings, and has magnificent views of the surrounding 312 acres. The bathroom is the largest that I have ever seen, with marble floors and a walk-in wardrobe. There’s also a roll top bath, double size shower, his and hers basins and plenty of mirrors – very nice indeed.
After taking some time to settle in and admire the view I head downstairs to the Coat of Arms Lounge and Crystal Bar. This too is a wonderful room, with high decorative ceilings, full-height windows, a grand fireplace with elaborately sculpted stone surround, and leather armchairs and sofas. The room also plays host to an impressive chandelier, making this a wonderful place to sit and relax.
I am greeted promptly and recommended a Chilean Merlot to sip at my leisure before being presented with the dinner menu. There are two main choices, either the Buxted menu (two course or three course) or an individually priced A La Carte menu. I opt for the former and choose the roast quail breast, celeriac and potato salad, pickled wild mushrooms and pear gel starter. For main, I go for the grilled sirloin of beef, wild mushroom, cherry tomato and watercress salad, peppercorn sauce, and Pont-Neuf potatoes (essentially ‘chunky’ chips).
Upon ordering I am offered a small plate of canapés (which are very tasty indeed) before being led into the main restaurant. This room must be an extension of the original building as it unfortunately doesn’t have the same splendour as the lounge and bar area – a little disappointing when compared to the rest of the main house.
Throughout my meal the waiting staff are attentive, friendly and helpful. Food-wise it’s hard to fault and the grilled sirloin is a particular highlight: beautifully tender and flavoursome. Once I have finished my main, I choose a lemon tart with orange gel and raspberry sorbet for dessert, which rounds off the meal nicely. I then retire to the lounge and bar area to relax some more with a pot of tea.
After a supremely comfortable sleep, I indulge in the Buxted cooked breakfast – a full English – which isn’t included in the room price, unlike the continental breakfast. This proves to be a good decision as it’s very tasty and sets me up nicely for the day ahead.
I was pleased to learn that Buxted Park Hotel offers an impressive array of business and conference facilities too. There are seven different areas of varying size in the main house that are available for conference and meeting use, the largest of which is the ballroom that can host up to 180. There’s also the library, orangery, blue drawing room, red drawing room, and oriental – all wonderfully preserved with original features of the sort you would expect from a grand country estate of this age. If you’re looking to inspire or impress then these rooms are ideal.
In addition there is a projection theatre and smaller meeting/ conference room called Academy 1. As has become the norm these days, the hotel offers complimentary WiFi – this was nice and fast during my stay. These business facilities are clearly popular as I saw a number of them in use during my short stay.
Located 45 miles from London and 24 miles from London Gatwick, the hotel is certainly well connected for all visitor needs. There are two train stations nearby, Buxted (0.5 miles) and Uckfield (4 miles), which are both on the same direct line from London Bridge (a journey of just over 1 hour) plus Haywards Heath isn’t too far if you wish to use the Brighton line. Equally, driving is simple, situated 35 minutes south of the M25 and 30 minutes from both Brighton and Tunbridge Wells.
Without a doubt I would recommend Buxted Park Hotel, be it for business or pleasure. Throughout my stay the staff were warm, courteous and helpful. And if you’re looking for somewhere peaceful and rural but still well connected, with history, original features and a grand ambience, then Buxted Park is the place.
Buxted Park Hotel, Uckfield:
Buxted, Uckfield, East Sussex, TN22 4AY