Hotel review: The inspector re-visits revamped Gothic mansion Oakley Court on the River Thames


The hotel inspector re-visits 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 in Oakley Court, near Windsor, which had a view of the River Thames 
  • After a rebranding, the hotel has refurbished 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 turn-around. On our previous visit five years ago, there was little positive to report about Oakley Court.

It was a corporate monstrosity with ugly added wings, all in need of salvation — and it has come to pass.

Built in 1859, this imposing Gothic mansion sits in 35 acres overlooking the Thames upstream from Windsor (the Queen once dropped in to witness swan upping, the annual census of unmarked mute swans — which all belong to her) and has been the setting for TV shows and films 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 sitting rooms

A fortune was spent on the hotel during lockdown and a ‘rebranding exercise’ is now in progress

The Inspector admired the sitting rooms (left and right). A fortune was spent on the hotel during lockdown and a ‘rebranding exercise’ is now in progress

During lockdown, a fortune was spent on it and a ‘rebranding exercise’ is now in progress, says one of the young staff, most of whom wear white T-shirts and are unfailingly cheerful.

Hence the link-up with Soho House, which has arrived in the form of a pop-up in the Summer River House across the main lawn, with a trendy tent, restaurant and bar, sun loungers, fire pits and DJ sets.

Almost half of the 100 or so rooms have been refurbished.

The Inspector writes: 'It was a corporate monstrosity with ugly added wings, all in need of salvation — and it has come to pass'

The Inspector writes: ‘It was a corporate monstrosity with ugly added wings, all in need of salvation — and it has come to pass’

The Inspector believes Oakley Court's refurbishment 'shows what some love and lots of money can achieve'

The Inspector believes Oakley Court’s refurbishment ‘shows what some love and lots of money can achieve’

There is talk that an outside swimming pool will be fitted on the grounds in the coming months

The Inspector found there was 'little positive to report about Oakley Court' upon his last visit, but was impressed by its makeover

The Inspector found there was ‘little positive to report about Oakley Court’ upon his last visit, but was impressed by its makeover. There is talk that an outside swimming pool will be fitted on the grounds in the coming months

TRAVEL FACTS

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

Rating:

Last time, I overlooked the car park even though the hotel was almost empty; on this occasion I am billeted with a river view, albeit after paying a hefty £325 for the privilege — and that’s without breakfast.

There is a touch of Soho House in the room, too: bare wood floor; drinks tray with cocktail shaker, ice bucket and bottles of ready-mixed Negroni; Roberts radio; complimentary soft drinks in the fridge; a picnic hamper with posh crisps and jelly babies.

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

We like the sitting rooms (one with a Japanese theme) and conservatory— especially the tables dressed in crisp white cotton spilling out onto the terrace.

It’s not quite warm enough to eat alfresco, so instead we adjourn to the Parlour restaurant. 

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

Oakley Court is a work in progress — but already it shows what some love and lots of money can achieve.



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