Live Your Fantasy at Great Fosters in England
Every childhood fantasy begins with a “Once upon a time….” With my job I hope I don’t sound boastful when I say I often have the chance to live these fantasies. My recent adventure began when I arrived at the 16th century hunting lodge known as Great Fosters. Once a stately home located in Egham, England (county of Surrey), this 43-bedroom small luxury hotel seemed to me like a castle, and I felt like a queen. For anyone that has visited London, a city I do love, you might agree that upon arrival things can get a bit hectic. Shuffling your luggage through the tube and the streets, dodging cars while still looking both ways … London is a city that to me feels as though it has many cities within. I want to share with you my experience at Great Fosters because while it is only a 15-minute drive from Heathrow, it might be the perfect place for you to live your royal fantasy the next time you are in England, stress free.
Upon arriving at Egham you can take a two-minute taxi ride to Great Fosters from the train station. You might be a bit confused upon arrival as the door in which you enter is inside a larger door (yes, a door within a door), but these small touches are what will make your experience unique. At the entrance I was greeted with a crackling fire, friendly smiles, and a cappuccino accompanied by a big, warm chocolate chip cookie. I was thrilled to enter my room, which was called “The Nursery.” No, it was not childlike in any way; instead it was almost like an entire apartment filled with a rich charm. The warmth of the colors and surprisingly great heating made me feel right at home. I discovered the famous Charlie Chaplin also found this room very handy, and in the closet you can still lift the trap door that he would use to enter his children’s room to say goodnight.
After settling in, I decided to tour the gardens. I haven’t seen gardens groomed with such perfection in a long time. I walked through the maze of hedges and over the bridge to what I like to call the “secret garden.” It is no doubt maintaining this property is a full-time job. I sat on the bench to take it all in and enjoy the changing of the leaves and brisk air on this unusually sunny day in November. Before dinner, I went to dress for the occasion of dining in the Tudor Room. I had a little time before my dinner reservation and was treated with a glass of sparkling wine, which I enjoyed by the fire. My entire dining experience lasted for two and a half hours in the lavishly decorated room with walls covered in 17th-century tapestries. I enjoyed a different wine with almost every course and tried a combination of plates from around the world paired with delicacies such as truffles, rare cheeses, and some of the finest cuts of meats. Let’s just say I had a restful night in the Nursery after such a delicious meal.
In the morning, I had the pleasure of meeting the head gardener, Russell Dixon, for a tour of the grounds. For more than 20 years, Russell has put his heart and soul into the property, and I was impressed with his talent. Since the house dates back to the 1500s, it always has to go under some kind of renovation, and the staff does a great job making sure you don’t even notice, which I found very impressive. With sustainability always on the staff’s mind, I appreciated the fact that most of the veggies and even some of the meat served at the Tudor Room came from the property.
My time of living the fairytale sadly came to an end too quickly, but I know I will return. I recommend a stay at Great Fosters whenever you plan to visit England. The warm hospitality, the property, and the dining experience are the perfect recipe for making a fantasy a reality.