I'm personally not a huge fan of Winnie the Pooh — greedy, lazy and dim teddy bears don't make for great heroes in my book — but my two youngest daughters, aged eight and four, feel otherwise. So we were delighted to be invited to Ashdown Park Hotel, situated only a short distance from the fabled Hundred Acre Wood (actually Five Hundred Acre Wood in Ashdown Forest) where AA Milne created his hero.
A stunning country house with vast high ceilings and stained glass windows, we were warmly welcomed and my daughters were given a welcome gift bag containing a special map to lead them to all of Pooh's favourite spots, including The Enchanted Place and Pooh Bridge.
Our room — lots of chintz and fussy curtains — overlooked an ornamental fountain and a view over a gorgeous, undulating East Sussex landscape. We went for a swim at the slightly gloomy indoor swimming pool, and then back to our rooms to change, ready for the eight-course tasting menu at the Anderida Restaurant.
This would have probably even defeated old Pooh and certainly I felt stuffed at the end of it — but happily so. By the time I got to the final course of Bitter Chocolate Fondant, Maple Syrup and Roasted Pecan Nut Ice Cream — via Carpaccio of aged English Beef and Foie Gras, Spring Truffles, Shaved Pecorino, Merlot Sea Salt, Grain Mustard Vinaigrette (that was just one course) I was feeling a proper Piglet. And the accumulation of a different wine with every course gave me a real fairytale feeling. The only let is that the dining room is not in the magnificent Richard Townley Suite, a converted chapel that is reserved largely for wedding receptions, with vast arches and glowing stained glass windows.
Before we left, the children enjoyed a special 'Return to the Hundred Acre Wood' tea, which featured honey (hunny, surely?) sandwiches, Rabbit's carrot sticks, Kanga cup cakes, Tigger sponge cake and Owl popcorn, and chunks of dark brown chocolate cake with the slightly disconcerting legend 'Pooh' inscribed on them.
Before leaving we strolled in the 186-acre gardens, past the tennis courts, croquet lawns and golf course. In a glorious location and steeped in comfort and grand style, Ashdown Park makes for a wonderful country stay.
Double rooms start from £140, including breakfast. Ashdown Park Hotel, Forest Row, East Sussex (+44 (0)1342 824988; ashdownpark.com)