Hotel review

Hotel review: The Inspector revisits revamped Gothic Oakley Court mansion on the River Thames

Hotel inspector revisits a gothic mansion where The Rocky Horror Picture Show was filmed and is impressed with the revamp of a former ‘corporate monstrosity’

  • The inspector stayed in a £325 room at Oakley Court, near Windsor, which had a view of the Thames
  • After a rebranding, the hotel has renovated more than half of its rooms and is hosting a Soho House pop-up
  • Remember… The Inspector pays his way – and tells it like it is…

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What a turnaround. On our previous visit five years ago, there were few positive things to report about Oakley Court.

It was a corporate monstrosity with nasty extra wings, all in need of salvation – and it happened.

Built in 1859, this imposing Gothic mansion sits on 35 acres overlooking the River Thames above Windsor (the Queen once came to witness the Swan Rising, the annual census of unmarked mute swans – all of which belong to her) and has been the setting for television shows and movies such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Tommy Steele’s Half A Sixpence.

Oakley Court, built in 1859, sits in 35 acres overlooking the River Thames, upstream from Windsor

The inspector admired the salons

A fortune was spent on the hotel during lockdown and a 'rebranding exercise' is now underway

The inspector admired the living rooms (left and right). A fortune was spent on the hotel during lockdown and a ‘rebranding exercise’ is now underway

During the lockdown, a fortune was spent there and a “rebranding exercise” is now underway, says one of the young employees, most of whom wear white t-shirts and are always in good spirits.

Hence the tie-in with Soho House, which arrived as a pop-up in the Summer River House across the main lawn, complete with a trendy tent, restaurant and bar, lounge chairs , fire pits and DJ sets.

Nearly half of the hundred rooms have been renovated.

The inspector writes:

Inspector writes: ‘It was a corporate monstrosity with nasty extra wings, all in need of saving – and it happened’

Inspector thinks Oakley Court renovation

Inspector thinks Oakley Court renovation ‘shows what a little love and a lot of money can accomplish’

There is talk that an outdoor swimming pool will be built on the grounds in the coming months

The inspector found there was 'little positive thing to report about Oakley Court' when he last visited but was impressed with its makeover

The Inspector found there was “little good to report about Oakley Court” when he last visited, but was impressed with its refurbishment. There is talk that an outdoor swimming pool will be built on the grounds in the coming months

TRAVEL INFORMATION

Oakley Court, Windsor Road, Windsor. SL4 5UR. Doubles from £275. For more information call 01753 609988.

Evaluation:

The last time, I forgot the car park when the hotel was almost empty; on this occasion I am accommodated with a river view but having paid £325 for the privilege – and that is without breakfast.

There’s also a touch of Soho House in the bedroom: bare wooden floors; drinks tray with shaker, ice bucket and bottles of ready-to-drink Negroni; Radio Roberts; free soft drinks in the fridge; a picnic basket with chic crisps and jelly babies.

In the coming months, a spa will be added and there is talk of an outdoor swimming pool.

We love the lounges (including one with a Japanese theme) and the veranda, especially the tables dressed in immaculate white cotton that spill out onto the terrace.

It’s not quite warm enough to eat al fresco, so instead we adjourn to the Parlor restaurant.

Its all-day menu is enticing, with options to share, pizzas and ‘premium bites’ such as 30 grams of King’s Platinum caviar for £84.

Oakley Court is a work in progress – but it already shows what love and big money can accomplish.

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