With strong connections to Henry VIII, Oatlands Park Hotel in Weybridge offers a pleasant place to spend some time away while you discover the surrounding area. My first visit to the Surrey based town saw me visit the monumental Hampton Court Palace, enjoy a waterside walk in Weybridge and dine in the hotel’s grand restaurant. With recent renovations having taken place I was looking forward to seeing what the four-star establishment had to offer.
The hotel opened for the first time in 1856 on the site of a grand Tudor palace, which was built in 1538 by Henry VIII and frequented by the man himself as well as other monarchs including Elizabeth I, Charles I and James I. Since then the house and grounds have seen a lot of redesign so don’t expect to feel an overwhelming sense of history when you visit, though the current owners are said to have restored some of the character of the listed buildings and magnificent grounds.
On arrival it was difficult not to be wowed by the resplendent two-storey entrance with an atrium roof above – it offers quite the welcome and wow factor for first time guests with its oversized lighting feature, pale polished floor and floral displays. There are also some tan leather sofas and deep blue and grey armchairs, which offer a bright, airy spot to meet with guests. I enjoyed a brief tour of the public areas and, during my stay, noticed a few business meetings and events taking place, which I was informed were popular at the hotel due to the good links to the capital.
I walked through the bar with its shiny new marble floor and into the restaurant, which had magnificent high ceilings and huge windows to allow plenty of light in and also to offer views of the grounds. I wandered through some doors and onto the terrace, which would be the ideal spot to relax in warmer months with views of Broadwater Lake. I was then led through the wood panel walled corridor, which leads to a selection of event rooms and up the stairs to my room.
An airy, spacious and contemporary offering in a classic setting, my room held a modern bathroom adorned with white and grey marble tiles and featuring a separate bath and shower with plenty of space to store essential items.
On arrival I spotted a bottle of Prosecco on ice as well as a substantial bowl of fruit, which I happily tucked into, while taking in the décor. The clean, smart style of the room had neutral tones, which highlighted the deep blue pops of colour in the leather headboard, soft furnishings and sofa. I particularly liked the modern blue and grey designed nest of two round coffee tables as well as the large statement artwork in dark blue, which (based on my limited knowledge of birds I can only guess) was a cockatoo. The room also benefitted from double aspect sash windows soft grey armchairs and black furniture as well air conditioning, fluffy dressing gowns (which disappeared after the first day’s cleaning and never returned!), a mini fridge, kettle, iron and ironing board and room service for all those necessary added extras.
The large bed left me feeling very snug and I felt comfortable in this room, though I was woken up from noise outside on both mornings and was a tad disappointed about my disappearing robe!
The grand Mulberry Restaurant offered a sophisticated place in which to dine but I’m not sure if the food quite lived up to the majestic nature of the room. With tinkling instrumental music being played through the room and low lighting to set the mood, the Mulberry Restaurant certainly offers a welcoming feel. Expect high ceilings with oversized lighting features, floor to ceiling windows framed with pale grey curtains, classic neutral décor with muted gold tones, nature-led artworks and large floral displays.
The a la carte menu was varied with a selection of five or six starters and desserts as well as ten main course options with sides too and offered brasserie style food. With dishes such as harissa couscous with prawns and pineapple or Mediterranean vegetable and pomegranate; seabream fillet with fragrant rice, vegetable and Thai green sauce, and dark chocolate mousse, I couldn’t fault the restaurant for its diverse range of dishes on offer.
I opted for a starter of crab fish cakes with sweet chilli sauce (£9.50), slow braised beef with heritage carrots, mash potato and braising juices (£21.50) and vanilla crème brûlée with shortbread (£6). I was (pleasantly) surprised with a lovely amuse bouche of a red pepper arancini, which came with a sprinkling of cheese, some sweet chilli sauce and decorative cucumber slice. I didn’t have to wait long for my starter to arrive – the crab cakes were crispy on the outside with a peppery crust and a sweet chilli sauce on the side offered a little tangy and sweet kick.
The beef had a lovely texture and the gravy offered a tantalising sweet richness. Buttery mash, tender stem broccoli and carrots completed the filling plate of food and the creamy and cool crème brûlée was a tasty end to the meal.
Breakfast is served in the restaurant and consists of a hot and cold buffet with plenty of food on offer and gracious staff members prepared to give you a helping hand should you need it.
A visit to Hampton Court Palace is a must. Only five miles from the hotel, it really is worth a visit to learn more of the Tudor era led by king Henry VIII, with the beautifully manicured gardens a must-see. I certainly took a few steps closer in learning about this feared monarch and particularly enjoyed the chapel, kitchens and the gorgeous grounds. The marvellous building leaves you in awe and there are plenty of friendly staff members around the place ready to offer up some more information and to point you in the direction of the next spot to see. I found it fascinating to learn of the traditions of the times as well as the life of the fervent king, and to stand in the steps of those who have made such an impact on history.
In a nutshell
With grand features and welcoming interiors, Oatlands Park certainly offers some character and I couldn’t help but notice the eagerness and friendliness of all staff members I came across during my stay, which always leaves me feeling positive.
Rooms can be booked from £99.
Address: Oatlands Drive, Weybridge, Surrey, KT13 9HB
Phone: +44 (0)1932 847 242