If you are looking for modern key cards, double showers and gadgets then let this review open your eyes to another way of life. Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and experience the elegance, history, beauty, interesting artwork, and exquisite grounds of Great Fosters. The hotel has the feel that you are in a country home all of your own, and will delight every expectation and more. From the moment we arrived it felt like stepping back in time without compromising on modern luxuries.
Great Fosters is a luxury romantic hotel that is described on their website as “a Grade One listed building set amongst 50 acres of stunning gardens and parkland in Egham, Surrey. Immaculately preserved, this stately historic monument boasts an enviable location close to Heathrow, the M25 and M4 and near Windsor. It provides the perfect setting for a wedding with infinite opportunities for stunning photographs.”
The website also states that “The Estate Grill is a reflection of our commitment to providing locally sourced, more ingredient-led food whilst being surrounded by the best of British art. The Cocktail Bar, Drawing Room and Terrace, which overlooks the estate, serve some of the most delicious light lunches and afternoon tea in Surrey.”
The exceptional gardens include features such as clipped yew hedges, a knot garden, archery pavilion, the Drake sundial which historians suggest may have been donated by Sir Francis Drake, a Saxon moat with wisteria draped Japanese bridge leading to a sunken rose garden, grassed amphitheatre, four secret gardens and a lake.
All the 43 suites and bedrooms at Great Fosters are individually decorated, some with four-poster beds, Persian rugs, gilt furnishings and damask walls, antiques and artefacts dating back hundreds of years. The Main House, which dates from 1550, offers a choice of historic suites and bedrooms. All bedrooms throughout the hotel feature beds made with silk filled duvets and have complimentary wi-fi.
For our stay we enjoyed the comfort of the Duke of Wellington suite in the Main House, the older part of the building which set the theme for our time to come. The room was beautifully presented and as we walked through the door it was like being taken back in time. The suite included a sitting room in addition to the main bedroom which had beautiful views over the stunning gardens and met all our needs.
The Estate Grill
The Estate Grill is a contemporary restaurant which reflects the hotel’s commitment to provide a simpler style of cooking using home grown, seasonal produce with the ultimate aim of becoming as self-sufficient and sustainable as possible. Many of the dishes are made using produce grown in their kitchen garden and greenhouses. Honey harvested from the on-site apiary is used in their salad dressings and certain dishes.
After settling into our room and having enjoyed a walk around the beautiful grounds we were ready for dinner. We started our evening next to the open fire in the Anne Boleyn drawing room and sat down to enjoy a pre-dinner drink and delectable snacks which included innovative creations of popcorn flavoured with Lime, Madras Curry and Caramel as well as a version flavoured with Tomato, Mozzarella and Red Pepper. The cocktail list was comprehensive with all tastes being catered for. We had a Great Bison (vodka, elderflower, passionfruit and champagne) and a Ginger and Blackberry Smash (a short drink with ginger, blackberries and tequila) both drinks complemented the beautiful snacks which whet the appetite and heighten the anticipation of the main event in the Estate Grill.
The meal opened with a generous bread basket served with olive oil and barrel aged balsamic. The breads consisted of Granary, Yoghurt Sourdough and Tomato & Mozzarella. The delicious homemade bread was in keeping with the delightful menu of British seasonal produce offered by The Estate Grill at Great Fosters. Where they need to outsource they turn to one of the many regional suppliers with whom they have a close working relationship.
For our starter I chose the Scallops and my dining companion had the Lobster Cocktail. The scallops were pan seared and had been handpicked. It was served in its shell with succulent garden peas, black pudding and candied orange. The dish stood out as beautifully decorated and the sommelier paired the dish with a white wine from the Campania region of Italy. The lobster cocktail was served on a bed of lettuce and avocado with poached lobster meat and tempura lobster claw. This made for a mouth-watering fresh combination complemented with coriander and sesame.
After a gentle pause in the meal it was time for the main course. My dining companion had the Steak Burger with Bone Marrow served in a brioche bun plus an added portion of bacon. The burger was a decent size and came with haggis fritters which were battered balls and were full of flavour in addition to being succulent.
I chose the Pork Belly served with turnip choucroute and home grown baby turnips. We had been told that all of the pork served at Great Fosters comes from estate-reared pigs which are Gloucester Old Spot crossed with Middlewhite. The pigs enjoy the fresh outdoors all year round, giving the meat a superior texture and colour. The pork dish exceeded our expectations by a country mile with succulent meat and amazing crackling. The meal was paired with a Portuguese Douro Tinto red wine that brought depth and full flavour to the meat. The meal was paired with a beautiful Gewürztraminer from the Alsace region in France.
After the delightful main course we still had a little room left for something sweet to finish. We were pleased to see plenty of choice on the dessert menu so we took our time in choosing the finale to a perfect evening. We settled on the Baked Chocolate Sponge served with Griottines (cherries soaked in kirsch and brandy) and a white chocolate and sour cherry sorbet and my dining companion had the Cheese Board consisting of a selection of cheeses, bread, biscuits and chutney.
The sommelier surprised us with his selection of dessert wine and port. We had the Maury AOC, which is a French red vin doux naturel from the Roussillion region with the Chocolate Sponge and a glass of Taylors White Port with the cheese.
Great Fosters is not just a wonderfully romantic setting for the perfect wedding but so much more than this. From the immaculate gardens to the historic suites in the Main House and not forgetting the delights of the two AA rosette Estate Grill and the contemporary facilites of their conference meeting rooms, Great Fosters offers something for everyone whether you are an expectant bride, a hardworking businessman, or a loving couple looking for a idyllic getaway.