I must be getting old.
I used to travel the world with a grubby backpack, sleeping in cramped hostel dorms, couch surfing or on trains full of chickens. Luxury was having a pillow or managing to avoid bed bugs.
These days I’m seeking out goose-feather duvets and chilled Prosecco. I’ve even been known to utter the ridiculous sentence: “Where did I leave my waffle robe?” I’ve changed.
With this in mind, I was looking for a one-night stop over in Windsor to break up a trip from Norwich to Cornwall. The Oakley Court got my attention with photos of afternoon tea on the lawn, beautiful bedrooms and an intriguing history as the property has featured in over 200 movies including many of the Hammer Horrors.
I picked a Superior Double for two people, one night, room-only in August 2013 and paid £149.
You know you’re somewhere special when the driveway is longer than your walk to Tesco Metro. Lined with trees the path winds around passing three huge parking areas – a big bonus as many places we’d considered did not offer free parking facilities. The hotel is just a couple of miles away from the centre of Windsor.
The entrance is stunning and if, like me, you’re a horror fan, you won’t be disappointed.
Creepy gargoyles lurk around every corner and the entrance is lit with lanterns. It all adds to the eerie feel that the property had when it was used as Frank N Furter’s castle in The Rocky Horror picture Show in 1975.
Greeted as we entered the reception, a concierge swiftly arrived to take our luggage and returned with two glasses of bubbly. It was a lovely touch that signified that the journey was over and the indulgence and relaxation had begun.
We were very lucky to get a river view as I hadn’t made any requests at the time of booking. The room was stunning, beautifully appointed with a huge bed, dressing table and seating by the window so you could turn your chair for a view of the Thames and the river gardens. There was a large bathroom with bath, bath robes, lots of storage, a full length mirror and a safe.
A great plus point was that the large window had heavy, well-lined curtains that generously covered the window so the room was blissfully dark in the morning. No matter how good the bed or the room, if the light wakes you at 6am, it can really spoil a hotel stay.
The room comes with a large, flat-screen TV that was programmed to a special, personalised greeting ‘The Oakley Court Hotel welcomes Miss Hardman. We hope you enjoy your stay‘. Really nice little touch which makes you feel like they’ve gone above and beyond to make you feel appreciated.
After taking a relaxing break on the lawn and enjoying the river, we headed over to test out the pool and spa area. We gave the gym a miss as exertions don’t feature highly on our holiday priorities – or at all really. The pool was lovely and has a sauna, steam room and jacuzzi and comes with the bonus of child-free sessions so you can relax without seven year olds practising their running bomb jumps.
The bar comes with lots of elegant rooms in which you can drink or order food or just relax and enjoy the atmosphere. There is also a large outdoor terrace that would be beautiful on warm days.
This is perhaps the most notable difference from many of the hotels I’ve stayed in. The service was impeccable from check-in to check-out, even when the unpredictable happened. We were enjoying a drink in the bar, late on the Saturday evening, when the fire alarms rang out. Being very British, people looked around and gave each other little smiles, continuing with a few faster sips of their drinks before attempting any dramatic moves to leave. Staff were immediately on hand to lead people outside and were very thorough in their checks to make sure everyone was OK as the evening had turned colder. We were quickly escorted back inside where staff were posted at each doorway thanking people for their understanding and cooperation. Great service in a situation that could quickly turn in to a shambles. Such polite attention to detail made all the difference to people whose evening had been temporarily disrupted.
Over the weekend, breakfast is served until 10.30am which was great for us as we wanted a leisurely start to the day. Luckily being a later diner didn’t mean that the buffet had been depleted. We were welcomed and seated and then set free on the great selection of fruit, yoghurt and cereals before starting on a full English. My boyfriend even managed to find room to try the large pastry selection passing it off as “essential driving fuel”. We had a final stroll around the gardens and along the river looking at some of the impressive driftwood sculptures before checking out at 11am.
The property was built in 1859 for Sir Richard Hall Say who was appointed High Sheriff of Berkshire in 1864. There have been many prestigious guests through the doors including the Prince Imperial of France who attended a private VIP dinner dance in 1874.
In 1919 the property was purchased, along with 50 acres of Berkshire woodland, by Mr Ernest Oliver for the price of £27000. It is believed that the house was used during the last war as the English Headquarters for the French Resistance and President De Gaulle is said to have stayed in one of the mansion bedrooms.
In 1955 Bray Studios moved next door to The Oakley Court which resulted in 200 movies being made in and around the building. These include The Rocky Horror Show, the St Trinians series and the Hammer House productions such as the Dracula films.
Most recently, The Oakley Court Hotel hosted Team GB Rowing and Canoeing Spring Teams for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Get a Deal:
The hotel is well worth it’s 4 star rating and came with the bonus of some unexpected extras when I made my booking. I did a quick Google search for voucher codes when I booked the room and found a ‘shopping’ code. I entered the code expecting it not to be valid but instead it gave me two free breakfasts, a £5 voucher to use in the hotel bar and £20 worth of shopping vouchers. An incredible bonus and well worth the search so always check if you’re booking online.