The Weekender: Oatlands Park Hotel
We review the historic Surrey property
There’s something rather special about following in the footsteps of royalty. Running my hand over the smooth oak panelled walls of the hallway, and past the grand staircase decorated with antique oil paintings, I was transported back in time. Oatlands Park Hotel in Weybridge may have recently undergone a million pound refurbishment, however in the oldest part of the hotel exists the original footprint of King Henry VIII’s Oatlands Palace, which he built for his fourth wife Anne of Cleves. The Palace saw a stellar line of royal figures come and go, including Elizabeth I who deemed Oatlands as one of her favourite hunting lodges.
Over the centuries it’s had many new guises and buildings added, but essentially this country-house hotel, which sits on 10 acres of land and manicured gardens has a polished feel, even though the refurbishment programme continues.
The biggest and most spectacular result of the renovations is Oatlands’ gorgeous light-flooded lobby. The glass domed roof is impressive, as is the wall tapestries and the well-thought out interiors. There is plenty of seating in cosy corners to enjoy the grand space, and as you continue to make your way through it, the seamless interiors blend into another communal area – the 1509 bar. Named so after the year 17-year-old Henry became king. It is here we ordered a few signature cocktails and sat by the fire.
As we were led to our room on the ground floor, the smell of fresh paint and building work still lingered. Of 144 rooms, 120 have already been completely refurbished and modernised and ours illustrated perfectly what contemporary and clean lines can do to complete a stunning makeover. With electric blinds that open to reveal the lake beyond, and a spacious bathroom with push button controls and Gilchrist & Soames toiletries and gold and grey furnishings, it made for a comfortable stay – and more than enough space for a family, if they had been with us.
After freshening up and a taking a few moments to unwind, it was time for dinner in the Mulberry Restaurant. Stylishly appointed with impressive floor-to-ceiling windows which overlook the estate’s parkland it serves a substantial buffet breakfast, afternoon tea and an à la carte menu in the evening. In the summer, the outdoor terrace is open for alfresco dining. The menu consists of mainly British classics, steaks, fish and chips and roasted meats. While not a huge selection, it was all cooked well and our plates were consistently clean. However, what stood out was the attentive and friendly service – not only during dinner, but from the moment we checked-in.
It was then back to the lobby to enjoy the space in a relaxed setting of dim candlelight and the low hum of other guests enjoying their evening. After a final G&T served in glass bigger than my head, it was time to retire to our chambers for a deep sleep.
Waking up without an alarm, was the dream. The power shower too was delightful, too. Our morning was a slow affair, strolling to breakfast and then wandering the extensive grounds outside. It was tough to leave but it was time to say goodbye.
Heading back down the sweeping driveway, I watched as Oatlands gradually disappeared from view. For such a short stopover, it certainly made an impression. The refurbishment has been done sympathetically and while the exterior still retains its regal facade, the modern additions add an air of refinement. There may be a few finishing touches still to be done, and Oatlands is screaming out for its own spa [and not the use of the one down the road] but our overnight stay made for a decent break. Once described as ‘The jewel in Surrey’s crown’, I can now understand why…
After more weekender inspiration? Tina Lofthouse headed to Stapleford Park for a bucolic weekend – read her review here.