Castle Hotel sits majestically on Windsor’s quintessentially English High Street, close to Windsor Castle and opposite Sir Christopher Wren’s Windsor Guildhall. At the heart of Windsor, a town renowned worldwide for its link to British royalty through Windsor Castle, the property has itself become a landmark, with its idiosyncratic architecture and succession of bold and progressive owners.
We arrived to the most delicious aroma as soon as a door to Castle Hotel MGallery opened. It is a signature scent called “Atmosphere” but the ingredients remain a secret even to their staff. For those in love with a smell as much as us you can take this fine fragrance home in the form of a candle. We got ours out as soon as we entered our suite and made ourselves a coffee to give us that added pep for our tour of the hotel.
The hotel is steeped in so much history. Castle Hotel Windsor opened as part of the MGallery by Sofitel collection in September 2015. This new addition to the exclusive MGallery Collection is one of the oldest and most elegant buildings in Windsor – and is steeped in history. From its origins as a small 16th century inn, it grew to become the most fashionable of Windsor’s hotels and is now an exceptional boutique hotel with all the charm and character of its history preserved for local and international visitors. It has been owned by some great men and women who are listed in reception.
And displayed in fine form in the landing.
My favourite of which is Constance Pennington.
The books in the display cabinet contain in the most artistic of fashions a collection of words. These include carriage, coin, mermaid and castle.
Coin: The history has charming touches like the Pennington penny.
Carriage: They used to provide a shuttle service to Brighton taking three days as opposed to the now car journey of three hours. Here is a map of the route that they took.
Mermaid: The hotel was originally called the mermaid Inn so you can see mermaids pop up
From the coin to the upholstery to the engraving on each individual shower door. Our suite John Chater has the emblem for the period that he was owner.
Castle: From the hotel you can see the changing of the guard around 10:45 a.m. every other day. A spectacular event that can be watched in a comfort and luxury of the hotel.
MGallery by Sofitel completely renovated the hotel in 2015 using the history, character and personalities of the hotel as the creative impetus behind its complete transformation. The open reception really reduces the literal barrier between guests from first greeting, making your stay relaxing from the moment you enter.
The new aesthetic has been masterminded by B M Trevillion Interiors Ltd and the new contemporary features has been integrated whilst still maintaining the original fabric of the building.
Castle Hotel is a Signature hotel within the MGallery by Sofitel collection. Its style and design inspired by the ebullient and dynamic innkeepers of the past, whose resourcefulness and entrepreneurialism is inextricably linked to the story of Windsor itself. Throughout the hotel there is a key design motif, that of embossing, ‘making an impression’. Just as the characters who ran the inn left their legacy, now staying within its historic rooms leaves guests with a strong sense of the past whilst also appreciating the most charming service provided by the lovely hotel team and the contemporary creature comforts one would except from an elegant boutique hotel of this calibre.
Stories of the hotel, some apocryphal, some believed true, are picked up in the decorative features of Castle Hotel. The impressive stag painting and busts of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert within the bar link back to the tale of a birthday gift from the Queen to her consort: a live animal delivered to the hotel.
The building itself is characterful and harmonious with a unifying palette and design features. The hotel’s colour palette is inspired by its heritage. Walls are in neutral shades with the chalky textures of the past. Colours are French grey and mushroom, while every now and again shades of acid yellow provide a vivid counterpoint.
The rich velvets and other fabrics that upholster furnishings and adorn windows are imprinted with the image of a mermaid, a reference to when the hotel was called The Mermaid Inn back in the 16th century.
Castle Hotel has 108 bedrooms following the flowing Georgian elegance of this building. We stayed in the luxurious John Chater Suite with stunning views of the turrets of Windsor Castle. Each of the five suites have been elegantly personalised to reflect to one of the hotel’s eight royal warrant holders.
The John Chater Suite combines rich history and charm with calming contemporary style. The hotel team surprised us with a beautiful gift in the suite to welcome us to the hotel. In the room we were provided with a comfortable sitting room with panoramic 48 inch TV, Mini Bar with complimentary snacks and soft drinks and a Nespresso coffee machine. The indulgent bathroom comes with luxury Lanvin toiletries and fluffy bathrobes.
In some bathrooms, the Pennington Penny provides the design for the frosting on the shower screens as a historic reference to when the 17th century innkeeper George Pennington introduced his own coin worth a ha’penny to make up for a lack of necessary change. As you can see above ours had John Chater himself. The magnificent kingsize bed was covered in the finest Egyptian cotton sheets and the newly renovated room was beautifully decorated with a refined take on contemporary design. A soft colour palette of neutral shades provides a tranquil environment complemented by the modern amenities. But all the bedrooms are just as fabulous…
But before we even think about sleep, there is the much anticipated new opening right downstairs. Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill Windsor just opened on 9th March at Castle Hotel and we were one of the first to experience the wonderful menu and warm hospitality of Windsor’s new dining destination. Marco’s ethos is all about offering classic affordable dishes, simply cooked using the best, well-sourced, seasonal ingredients and served in a glamorous setting.
As you would expect, the Steakhouse offers a great range of steaks in addition to some of Marco’s signature dishes. These include his classic starters of French onion soup and beetroot and goats’ cheese salad to his fried haddock and triple cooked chips and entrecote of veal mains. Marco’s dishes are traditional and uniquely recognisable through his art of cooking British cuisine using French techniques.
A truly inspired yet not overbearing menu by Marco Pierre White. It was as if he were sitting opposite me! The menu is not the only fabulous talking point of the new restaurant. Charming features include the service bells 21 to mark each of the original rooms as opposed to the 108 it now has.
Ink pots that were used with quills to write people’s receipts of days gone by. This was a hard picture to take but I just had to show you the history that this fine establishment has on display.
More pictures of the fabulous culinary genius himself
For the table there is a choice of a basket of warm baked sourdough and mixed olives à la Provençal. For starters, we chose the Fritto Misto of calamari and shrimps with sauce tartare.
And the Rillettes of duck with prunes d’Agen and toasted sourdough.
Both deliciously tasty. Andy (the man you all really must get to know) not only looks after the restaurant but is the perfect person to help you pair your wine with your meal. e is even known to invent a Beer Martini, something I think is unique and definitely trend setting in itself. Our starters were paired with one wine, yes one wine a chardonnay. The ability to pair a wine with a fatty but delicious duck dish and a battered fish dish was truly genius. The wine had just the right character to cut through any oil without overpowering the dish. For those of you who are interested it was a Wild Ferment Chardonnay Errazuriz.
The main event had to be a steak for myself. All the steaks are 28 day aged from master butcher Campbell Brothers and are served with triple cooked chips, grilled tomato and onion rings. Sauces are an additional charge and include Bordelaise butter, garlic butter, peppercorn sauce, wild mushroom sauce and the classic Béarnaise sauce. I chose the 10oz Ribeye cooked medium rare. Paired by Andy with a Malbec – Argentinian Salentein, Barrel Selection 2014.
Other mains include Grilled 8oz salmon steak, Great American bacon and cheeseburger, 10oz Entrecôte of veal and 1970’s classic chicken Kiev. We chose a steak from the sea as our second dish – the grilled 8oz swordfish steak à la Provençal. The swordfish was cooked to perfection and served with buttered new potatoes and sauce vierge with fresh basil. Paired (again by a man who needs no introduction!) with a Pinot Noir – Fortant de France, Terroir De Collines. A perfect combo.
The American themed dessert menu includes favourites such as Classic New York baked cheesecake, Chicago warm chocolate brownie and Classic Knickerbocker glory. Those looking for something from this side of the Pond can enjoy Cambridge burnt cream or the aptly named “Sticky sticky sticky toffee pudding”.
We chose the sticky toffee pudding…
with lashings of toffee sauce
The cheeseboard consists of just three fine cheeses: Vintage Stilton, Mature Cheddar and Ripe Brie. In defence of this simplicity, the menu quotes the great Perry-Smith who said, “you only need three cheeses”. Those who wish to accompany their cheese with a rich port have a decent selection to choose from and there are also two dessert wines on the menu.
A truly memorable stay in a superb location with a touch of elegance and luxury with a rich history behind it.
Castle Hotel Windsor – MGallery by Sofitel
18 High Street, Windsor SL4 1LJ
(+44)1753 252 800