I recently had the honour of staying at Oakley Court, a historic country house which overlooks the River Thames and sprawls over a 30 acre ground. The exterior presents a Gothic façade and endless sprawling gardens, with the garden’s centre-piece fountain and the surrounding rejuvenated orchards delivering unforgettable wow-factors. The 4-star residence hosts an award-winning restaurant, tennis courts, croquet lawn, and an indoor pool with stunning rover-bank views of the Thames. If you decide to wander outside the luxurious grounds, a brisk 10 minute walk will lead you to Windsor City Centre or Windsor Castle, or go a little further for Ascot and Thorpe Park, but you will always love returning to this gorgeous estate as your base. As expected with an estate dating back to 1859 and built as a home by Sir Richard Hall-Say, High Sheriff of Berkshire, the decor is unyieldingly traditional. Still, it offers a few surprising splashes of modern decor – notably the three riverside boardrooms – or slightly offbeat artwork, particularly the driftwood sculptures by James Doran-Webb.
During our stay, a favourite experience – second to soaking up the view – was the food. The menu is led by Head Chef Damian Broom whose second year saw the 2AA rosette award winning restaurant, The Dining Room, rewarded with two distinctions: Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Life Restaurant of the Year and Chef of the Year for 2015. The dinner was fresh and delicious, prepared from scratch like all the meals served up in The Dining Room. In part, the richness of the dishes can be traced back to the kitchen gardens which provide seasonal, high quality and local organic produce. You can literally taste the difference from your plate down to the honey curated from the estate’s beehives. Dishes are prepared with a range of earthy techniques such as indoor wood and charcoal barbeques, whilst herbs and flowers are provided in house. Newly-caught fish is often plated within hours. As a vegetarian I enjoyed dinners of sprig broccoli and hazelnuts , indulged in the triple-cooked chips and devoured the fresh parperdelle pasta with garlic pesto, spinach, pine nuts and aged parmesan, whilst autumn plum and ‘Oakley apple’ hearty crumble took the culinary experience to the zone of fine ‘comfort eating’. The dinner was truly delicious and memorable, and guests enjoy a fully comprehensive English breakfast in the morning.
There is free WiFi available throughout the property, and other notable amenities include the decked out bar, sauna, steam room, and gym. Though slightly quiet in the August month we visited, in the busy summer the estate can host up to 200 guests during the day, a further 100 at night. Boat hire is available during the spring and summer months so I will definitely be revisiting to take in the Thames in style. Visit Oakley Court here for more information, located at Windsor Road, Water Oakley, Windsor SL4 5UR. I have to say, that leaving London as the sunset was pretty magical but arriving at Oakley Court in the evening was something else.