Advantages Superb location. Comfortable, relaxing hotel, steeped in history. Superb staff.
Disadvantages Loud Christmas parties tended to conflict with the country hotel ethos!
We have just returned from a two-night stay at the (correctly-named) Avisford Park Hilton near Arundel on the south coast of England. Described by Hilton themselves as an hotel where “You can live like a Baronet. After all, it was once the home of Baronet Montagu, Admiral and friend of Lord Nelson. Set in 89 acres of lovely gardens and parkland in England's south downs, Avisford park is as majestic now as it ever was”, we were really looking forward to our stay. It was the end of Amanda’s term at school and she really needed to be whisked away to somewhere peaceful. And that’s just what I did. On a cold, foggy December afternoon, Amanda, baby Josh and I all piled into the car and headed off for this seemingly delightful country retreat.The Journey
...was somewhat traumatic. The weather was against us and it took about 2 1/2 hours from Canterbury. I guess it would have taken about 1 1/2 hours from London. As a holder of an HGV (lorry) licence, I’ve nothing against truck-drivers – except the one who nearly killed us when he cut us up on a roundabout outside Horsham. The fog was thick and, notwithstanding the necessity for slow and careful driving, it did seem that every would-be graduate of the British School of Milk-float Drivers was out on the roads that night. And they were all, for some reason, in front of us. This has nothing to do with the hotel, but sets the scene, I hope, for the state of mind in which we finally arrived at about 6:30pm. Anyway – we got there and drove down….The driveway
...which was long and led to an oasis of a country house hotel, albeit a Hilton chain hotel, nestling comfortably within what I’m led to believe is a very decent golf course. The road curves around a picturesque pond and fountain, leading to a large car park. We parked up and headed for…..Reception
...which lay behind automatically-opening doors. We were met by friendly and welcoming staff who had accurate details of our on-line booking and checked us in efficiently. As an Hilton Hhonors Gold VIP Member, I was granted an upgrade to a club room on the first floor (there are only three floors here and, I think, no elevator) and, after booking in for our dinner at 7:15pm, we were given directions to room 108. We climbed the majestic staircase and were soon in….Our room
This was spacious and had a well-equipped en-suite bathroom. The bathroom was cleanly tiled and featured a comfortable enamel bath with hand-held shower, a lavatory, basin, and mirror. Plenty of towels and toiletries were provided – and refreshed on the second night of our stay.The bedroom itself had plenty of space and featured a large double bed, cupboard, working desk, trouser-press / ironing board combination, colour television (with the usual Hilton on-line billing system, internet access, pay-per-view movies and Playstation games, although very limited television channel choice) and a seating area near the window with two extremely comfortable armchairs, a circular table and a footrest – which could be shared quite easily as long as Josh didn’t move it too far on its easy-move coasters. And now I come to mention Josh, his cot (or crib) was already in situ as requested. Unlike many hotel rooms, there was space to move it to a variety of locations. We did – just for a bit of peace! Boy did he play up!
Sounds great! Why did Josh play up?Well – the only thing I have to say in criticism of the room is that it was so very, very hot! It was December. In the UK. We turned off the radiators and flung open the window. Still too hot! Heat is not very baby-friendly! Still, despite having asked for a smoking room, we were allocated a non-smoking room (probably a good thing), so it wasn’t too painful for me to have to lean far out of the window into the winter night to get my nicotine fix. Ahhhhhhhh! I digress! It’s rapidly approaching time for…
Dinner!We’d booked this two-night break on-line at www.hilton.com and had obtained a great-value UK Winter break. The rack rate (OK – always ignore rack rates) was £195.00 per room per night for bed and breakfast. That’s about $312. Table D’hote dinner was £45.00 for two. That’s about $72. Our rate was £99.00 ($159) for two nights’ B&B, with dinner included on the first night. We awaited our evening meal eagerly and we were certainly not disappointed!
Dinner was served in the Cedar Room restaurant – a pleasantly laid out, non-smoking room, with very friendly and attentive staff. Josh was given a high chair and behaved well, whilst we enjoyed excellent food. For starters, I had a gorgeous honeydew melon attractively served with delicious fruits dripping with a mint glaze, whilst Amanda had an Italian starter of parma ham with garlic croutons and black olives. For the main course, Amanda thoroughly enjoyed her salmon steak encrusted with coriander, whilst I made the most of roast lamb served on a bed of mustard mash and blackcurrant jus. I finished with a refreshing ice-cream, whilst Amanda enjoyed a most extensive cheeseboard, before retiring for coffee in the bar. It was pretty faultless, all in all – and Amanda just can’t stop raving about the salmon!And So To Bed...
With Baby Josh in tow, it wasn’t long before it was time to retire and when it was finally time to hit the pillows, the bed was found to be really comfortable, even if the room was uncomfortably hot! He slept well in his cot, although I won’t say the same about the second night. Hey – these things happen!A dose of Schizophrenia!
OK – so it’s Christmas, so I won’t dwell on this – and I really can’t say if this criticism would be valid throughout the year. However, this hotel sells itself on the fact that it’s a peaceful retreat, away from all the hustle of everyday life. It’s set within 89 acres of peaceful parkland (mainly a very well respected golf course – open to residents), boasts a great spa and fitness centre and is a beautiful country house. It was thus disappointing to find that, on each of the two nights we stayed, there were three Christmas parties going on, each with music going on until 1am, followed by the loud revving of engines by teenage lads in souped-up Peugeot 106’s (and the accompanying shouting) in the car park afterwards. I’m certainly no party pooper, but you do – surely – need to decide whether you’re going to run a party venue or a peaceful hotel; the two don't make terribly great bedfellows! Minor complaint and, as, I’ve said, it’s Christmas. The season is unusual. I can’t believe that this is the norm. We got to sleep eventually and it was soon time for...Breakfast
...Which suited everyone. Amanda had a delicious cooked breakfast and loved the black pudding and the haggis. I enjoyed my minimalist fruit juice, tea, cereal and toast. And Josh was perfectly happy with his milk and Wheatabix. Typically for Hilton, it’s an efficient buffet-type breakfast and you’re welcome to take as much, or as little, as you like. The day lay ahead…The Day Ahead
...was a little dreary. Not Hilton’s fault – but more because the English weather was so predictably bad. We enjoyed Chichester and Arundel. Bognor Regis and Littlehampton (snigger!) were not so great. We could have stayed at the hotel and played golf, swam (indoors or out), played tennis or had a massage at the health centre. It’s all a matter of what suits you. The opportunities are certainly there.We returned to the hotel and retired to our room with a tired and somewhat irritable Josh. It had all been a little too much for him. When he finally got to sleep, we ordered...
Room Service...which was tasty, good-value and very quickly delivered. We’d eaten earlier, so only fancied a snack. Two trays of cheese-glazed nachos and jalapeno peppers, a tray of potato skins with sour-cream and sweet-chilli dips, and a pint-and-half of lager duly arrived and needed two staff to carry them all! Tasty and relaxing. We were certainly very satisfied and settled down to a night of, to be honest, complete nonsense from a very restless – and hot – baby Josh.
Check-out...Was automated, having requested a non-stop check-out service the night before departure. We received a bill under the door, signed it, handed it in to reception and were off. Two nights B&B, 2 dinners, 2 room-service suppers, 2 newspapers, bar drinks and a bill of £137 ($219) left me feeling very satisfied indeed.
ConclusionA great hotel, with all that you’d expect from the Hilton group. The potential to be a very quiet and relaxing break once the Christmas parties are over. Great, friendly staff and excellent value. Highly recommended.
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In 89 acres of parkland, this Georgian manor house has a gym, an 18-hole golf course and 2 swimming pools. Hilton Avisford has a sauna, steam room...
Shipping: refer to website
Availability: Price is per double room per night and may vary depending on date booked