Heathrow is one of the busiest airports in the world, with planes taking off or landing every 45 seconds! As an entry point into Europe, many US travelers will pass through Heathrow/London on their way to other destinations – either in Europe or further abroad, such as Africa. As a result, I often recommend to spend a night or two in London at the start or end of one’s trip in order to break up the travel time. And for those who have visited London many times before, heading in and out of the city for a short stay isn’t all that appealing.
Enter Great Fosters. Part of Alexander Hotels, this stunning country estate has historic rooms, a Michelin starred restaurant and beautiful grounds to enjoy, and is located just 15 minutes’ from Heathrow airport. A stay at this property would be lovely on any occasion but I am particularly drawn to the convenience of its location. I can’t envision a more idyllic spot to recharge after a long flight or combat jet lag!
An estate is known to have existed at this location in Surrey since the Middle Ages and a portion of the original moat is still in tact today. While the history of the home through the centuries is quite lengthy, there are a few highlights worth noting in this short post, including a royal crest of Queen Elizabeth I located above the main porch and dating to 1598. The manor first became a hotel in 1930 when it was purchased and refurbished by Sir Harold Sutcliffe. The following year, Queen Mary visited the property and the famed Ascot Ball was held at the hotel, solidifying its place in modern history. In 2018, the Sutcliffe family sold the property to Alexander Hotels, who manage the estate today, along with four other historic manor hotels.
Currently, the estate houses 43 rooms, some of which are newly added and in a more contemporary style, attractive to business travelers who may be utilizing the estate’s conference facilities. In my opinion, the highlights of the hotel are the historic suites – 7 uniquely designed rooms in the main house. I personally had the chance to stay in Panel II. When I arrived on a stormy night, the dark wood paneling and four poster bed with rich velvet fabrics felt so traditionally British – I love when you can arrive to a place and feel you’ve stepped back in time a bit. I also had the chance during my stay to tour several other historic rooms and my personal favorites were the Queen Anne Suite and the Tapestry Suite.
The Estate Grill is the main dining facility, offering traditional British fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week. For a splurge, treat yourself to dinner at The Tudor Room, the hotel’s intimate Michelin-starred restaurant featuring cuisine by head chef Tony Parkin. The 20-seat dining venue serves a delectable tasting menu for dinner three nights a week (Thursday – Saturday) and for lunch four nights a week. Before dinner, you may opt to enjoy afternoon tea in the living room, or a cocktail in the hotels’ bar or on the terrace.
As mentioned above, the grounds of the estate are partially surrounded by an original moat. Within those bounds you’ll find numerous English gardens that are lovely to stroll through and in warmer weather you can enjoy the outdoor heated pool or a game of tennis. For rainier days, you may opt for a spa treatment in the comfort of your room or simply to enjoy a good book by the fire.
All in all, this romantic country estate nods to a bygone era, offering the perfect respite to renew your energy at the start or end of a big trip. And the proximity to the airport makes it all too convenient! I would also just note that Great Fosters is quite popular for weddings, so weekends during peak periods tend to book up quite far in advance.