Great Fosters: A luxurious British retreat during the Social Season
The British Summer Social Season presents us with so many exciting events to attend over the coming months. From Royal Ascot to Henley and Glorious Goodwood to Salon Prive, there is a chance to escape London almost every weekend. Even if you are not based in our capital city, it is still worth making the day trip to some of our favourite occasions in the South of England.
Although I look for every excuse to leave the city on a warm summer day, I rarely take the opportunity to make the trip last overnight. With Royal Ascot just around the corner, my mind is filled with images of jammed roads and long queues on the motorway, that only seem avoidable if you travel by helicopter. And we all know the stress of sitting in gridlock traffic on the way home after a great day of racing.
Rather than charter a flight to Royal Ascot and every major social event (although I wouldn’t say no!), I set about finding a solution for those wanting to avoid the long delays and also extend their outing to a full weekend, rather than just a day.
I am pleased to let our readers know that I have found the answer to our prayers: it is time to book into Great Fosters in Egham. Great Fosters is a luxury romantic country house hotel and provides the perfect respite after a long day of entertainment.
The 43-bedroom hunting lodge dates back to the 16th Century and is set in 50 acres of parkland that was originally part of Windsor Park. The grandeur and history of Great Fosters is evident from the moment you enter through the door. The owners (The Sutcliffe Family) have seamlessly merged the original details, such as the authentic tapestries, with modern amenities. In fact, it is pretty hard to identify what is not original!
The manicured gardens have everything that you could ever wish for: croquet lawn; outdoor swimming pool; lily pond; Saxon moat and a grassed amphitheatre. The destination makes such good use of the outside space that it is difficult to return inside, even on a cloudy day.
Whether you want to book in and stay the day before a big event or follow up the occasion with a discreet visit, the award-winning Afternoon Tea alone makes your stay worthwhile. I chose to try it on arrival and sipped Champagne and Pimms on the terrace whilst devouring freshly baked scones and delicate macaroons. I was thrilled to hear that Afternoon Tea is offered all year round and I am already planning to return in winter. At this time of year, they encourage guests to sink into the sofas in the Anne Boleyn and toast crumpets and marshmallows on the log fire, which sounds divine.
It is not only the Afternoon Tea that impresses the taste buds. Dining is an experience in itself with a Michelin star chef providing tasting menus in The Tudor Room and delicious Meat and Fish in The Estate Grill. Great Fosters prides itself on incorporating home grown produce across all of its menus from the chard and seasonal greens, to the honey and pigs. The idea is to present guests with the freshest produce possible and, in my opinion, it is hard to find anything fresher.
One of the most enchanting aspects of Great Fosters is the traditional and luxurious décor. This is evident throughout the hotel and especially noticeable in the bedrooms. The focal point of my bedroom was the rich crimson four poster bed, which was big enough to sleep four!
The oak panelling, enormous fireplace and antiques provide a warm and homely atmosphere. I think it would be fair to say that I now understand how a princess sleeps.
I can’t think of a better place to visit when one needs a taste of country luxury and for this reason alone, Great Fosters is the perfect solution for those wanting to enjoy a thoroughly British weekend.
Whether you are gracing the Royal Enclosure at Ascot or a guest in the The Stewards’ Enclosure at Henley Royal Regatta, this venue is the place to come afterwards so you can continue your fine day with a premium experience in a hotel that exudes grandeur.