We recently did an amazing road trip to visit 7 venues in the leafy countryside around Windsor and Ascot. It was a great opportunity to revisit the lovely hotels and remind ourselves of the many choices in that area.
A short drive from Heathrow and only 30 minutes by train from central London, Ascot and Windsor offer the tranquil green surroundings that Heathrow and Central London can not really offer.
Great Fosters was our first stop. Part of the Alexander Hotel Collection, Great Fosters is a 5 star hotel with a Michelin starred restaurant just outside Windsor.
The hotel is a Tudor Mansion with links to both Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. The 50 acres of beautiful grounds include a Saxon moat, Japanese bridge, fountain and a sundial gifted to the estate by Sir Francis Drake.
Great Fosters has 56 bedrooms and suites, some in the main house and others in the picturesque Cloisters and Coach House.
The venue has a number of meeting rooms that can hold up to 120 delegates.
The largest meeting rooms are the Tithe Barn, which can hold 120 theatre style and 180 for dinner and the Orangery, which can hold 120 theatre style and 80 for dinner. They then have 5 further meeting rooms: Mowbray 20 boardroom, Mandeville 8 boardroom, Clarence 22 boardroom, Victoria 16 boardroom and Concord 10 boardroom.
The whole hotel is packed with period furniture, features and paintings.
There is an outdoor swimming pool and jacuzzi for residents and delgates to enjoy. Great Fosters have their own event company that can offer many activities tailored to the grounds and hotel. Onsite there are some quite unique opportunities like “Meet the Bees” with their beekeeper, pizza making with their outdoor pizza oven and a tour of the estate with the Head Gardener.
This really is a stunning 5 star hotel.
Foxhills Country Club & Resort
Foxhills Country Club & Resort has a lot of onsite facilities. Resort is truly the correct title for this hotel which has 5 swimming pools and 3 golf courses!
There are 66 bedrooms in a number of different blocks. Most of the 9 meeting rooms are located in the Victorian Manor House. The Library holds up to 70 theatre style, The Executive Boardroom holds 20 to 30 delegates, The Study holds 10, Ivatt Briscoe holds 20, General Hutton holds 12, Bessier holds 25, The Pine Room holds 20 and the smallest room is the Beech – ideal for interviews and as an organisers office. The 9th meeting room is the largest and the only one not in the main house – The Club House. This room can hold up to 200 and has its own terrace.
There are a number of formal and informal catering options throughout the resort. “Fox” restaurant is located in the Manor House and is made up of 3 rooms, so is perfect for individuals to dine, but also for semi-private groups. Nineteen is the brasserie, located at the “nineteenth hole” in the Clubhouse. Flo’s is a deli style restaurant serving Persian and Middle Eastern flavours. The Manor Lounge offers light bites and afternoon tea, transforming into a cocktail bar in the evening.
The activities on site include the 3 golf courses, 5 swimming pools, tennis courts, gym, spa, yoga cabin, Games Room (including table football and video games), beekeeping experience, and croquet. Although very much a family resort, there are many areas of the estate that are designed with corporate guests in mind and you will not be interrupted by leisure guests. The resort has a real buzz on a summer’s day, an ideal space for your teams to really relax and “let their hair down”.
Royal Berkshire Hotel
The Royal Berkshire is a Queen Anne mansion set in the 15 acres of Berkshire countryside. A short drive from the M25, Heathrow, Ascot and Windsor.
The hotel has 66 rooms and suites. There are 12 meeting rooms. The Berkshire Suite holds up to 200 delegates theatre style; The Wentworth hotels 160 theatre style and The Marlborough holds up to 100 theatre style. The hotel then has a number of modern meeting rooms that are decorated in the colours their names suggest and vary in size from Red that holds 100 theatre style to Blue that holds 10 boardroom style. They also have an informal area called Homespace which is great for co-working and has a snug that is ideal for informal networking and breaks. Homespace can be hired privately too.
The dining room is the Fork, open for breakfast and dinner. Fork can also be hired privately for 55 guests.
The grounds already have frisbee golf, five-a-side football, treasure hunts, tennis, basketball, croquet and giant games (including chess, snakes & ladders and French boules). They are also happy for external companies to bring other activities on site.
Its location and setting make it an ideal retreat venue close to Heathrow.
Monkey Island Estate
Monkey Island Estate is situated on an island in the River Thames in Bray, Berkshire. It is thought the name comes from its monastic past rather than the mammal!
You arrive at the car park and the reception is in a small building in the corner. Once you have checked in you cross the footbridge to the island, where you will find 2 venues. These grade I listed pavilions were built as fishing retreats in 1723 by the third Duke of Marlborough. The venue includes 40 guest rooms, including 2 cottages, set in 7 acres of landscaped gardens.
The Floating Spa is a barge on the river, which includes treatment rooms. The hotel has a restaurant that has a terrace overlooking the river – it serves breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner. The Monkey Bar serves light bites and cocktails. The Monkey Room and Whiskey Snug both provide spaces for private dining.
The venue has 4 meeting spaces: Spencer Suite holds 14 boardroom style, The Boardroom holds 20 delegates, The River room holds 40 boardroom or 100 theatre, and the Marlborough Ballroom holds 200 theatre style or 130 for dinner.
The venue has been recently completely restored to its former glory and its setting makes it very unique.
Castle Hotel, Windsor
The Castle Hotel is opposite Windsor Castle and has recently gone through a refurbishment on the ground floor.
Leaf Restaurant serves locally sourced food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The refurbishment included an outdoor terrace, full of flowers and vines.
The hotel has 108 bedrooms including suites. For meetings there is a choice of 10 rooms. The Windsor Suite holds up to 400 guests. The hotel’s Boardrooms hold 8-14 delegates. The Balmoral Suite – 80 theatre style and Sandringham Suites – 80 theatre style.
The hotel does have limited parking space, but is close to Windsor Central and Windsor Riverside Stations.
The MacDonald Hotel Windsor is also opposite Windsor Castle.
The hotel has 120 bedrooms. Caleys Brasserie serves quality food with ingredients from around the UK. The Lounge is open daily for light bites and afternoon tea.
The meeting space can hold up to 140 delegates. The Castle suite holds 140 theatre style; St Georges seats up to 70 theatre style and 35 cabaret and then there are 4 boardrooms holding from 12 to 24.
The car parking spaces are limited, but MacDonald Windsor is also close to the main railway stations.
Beaumont House Hotel
Our trip ended at the DeVere Beaumont Estate where we were lucky enough to stay overnight in the magnificent Georgian White House part of the estate.
Beaumont Estate is in Old Windsor and the site includes an 18th century mansion, a chapel, a Victorian school and the more modern conference centre additions. This is all set in 42 acres of parkland.
Beaumont has completely transformed over recent years from a “conference centre” to a great 4-star hotel.
The whole venue has 400 bedrooms and 75 (58 meeting rooms) event spaces, but the team have cleverly zoned the estate so you really do not feel like you are in such a big property.
The White House and School House
The Georgian White House section of the Estate contains the Feature Bedroom Suites and some smaller meeting spaces. 6 meeting rooms hold from 6 to 26 boardroom style.
Adjoining the White House is the Old School House, here there are some larger meeting rooms including the Victorian Chapel which can holds 200 for dinner. The Hampton Suite can hold up to 180 theatre style. There are a further 8 meeting spaces in this area. The White House and Old School House can be hired exclusively for larger groups. You would have your own reception and car park for groups of around 100-130.
The Main Hotel and Estate
The Main Hotel contains most of the bedrooms and a further 13 meeting spaces. The largest is The Hannover Suite that can hold up to 550 for a dinner or 700 theatre style.
The estate also offers a further 2 stand alone meeting rooms – The Balmoral that holds 180 theatre style and Kensington that holds 80. These rooms are ideal for day meetings, especially ones that need complete privacy.
The grounds include specially commissioned sculptures, tennis courts, a natural pond, a large stretch tent for outdoor events. The venue has a pool and fully equipped gym.
We also worked at Beaumont House Estate for the day and for such a large venue it really offers a tranquil place to work. The staff were excellent and although there was a large residential conference in-house, we felt like we were the only ones in the venue!