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The Fairmont Windsor Park

Courtesy of Fairmont Windsor Park

It has been a busy week at the palatial Fairmont Windsor Park hotel. First, it hosted Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen as they agreed the new post-Brexit trade arrangements for Northern Ireland. Later, hundreds of Conservative MPs drove through its resplendent grounds as they joined the Prime Minister for an enforced away day designed, as one commentator put it, to ‘galvanise the troops’. But months earlier, it played host to Tatler’s Weddings Editor Astrid Joss. Here, she recalls chasing the glamour of her schoolgirl dreams at the opulent country retreat.

In my days as a boarder at St Mary’s School Ascot, just a 20-minute drive from Fairmont, bedtime dormitory chatter was sprinkled with stories of high jinks and glamorous goings-on from the glitzy soirees that used to spill out of Wentworth, Sunningdale and the grand private homes nearby. With so much seemingly on offer on our doorstep, it is of little wonder we were constantly planning breakouts — not to see the boys at Eton, but to try and sample the promise of these famed Surrey hotspots. 

Rishi Sunak and Ursula von der Leyen hold a joint press conference following their meeting at the Fairmont Hotel in Windsor

DAN KITWOOD/Getty Images

Now a mother of two children of my own, I had the chance to realise some of my girlhood social fantasies when I visited the Fairmont Windsor Park in October last year. On a bright, crisp morning, I pulled off a leafy road near Windsor Great Park and marvelled at the shooting fountains as I drove through the manicured grounds towards the palatial Jacobean facade. Once home to members of the influential Schroeder banking dynasty (it was bought by Sir John Schroder, 1st Baronet in 1864) and later the Saville Court hotel, the property has undergone a recent major renovation helmed by businessman Surinder Arora, who bought the property in 2014. It reopened to fanfare in January 2022 and is now firmly part of the scene in this royal-approved enclave (William and Kate, of course, are new to the area having recently bid farewell to London).

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On arrival, I was greeted by a small welcoming party and given the full red carpet treatment. The exceptionally friendly staff stressed that I must not worry about a single thing. Luggage was swiftly removed from my hands and not seen again until I entered my room, while I was whisked off to the spa and ordered to recuperate from my rather arduous journey (from London). 

Opt for ultimate luxury in the Royal Signature Suite

Viktor Kery/Fairmont Windsor Park

The 2,500 square metre spa, as well as the Facebible Clinic, which sits at the sharp end of medical aesthetics, is arguably the centrepiece of the Fairmont. Here, the incredibly glamorous and charming Dr Arora, the owner’s daughter-in-law, focuses on skin health, anti-ageing and longevity, offering cutting-edge injectables, IPL rejuvenation (light therapy to improve pigmentation such as age spots) and laser. Cryotherapy, osteotherapy and acupuncture are available within the spa with plans for in-room IV drips and lymphatic drainage. Relaxation has never been so advanced: a Himalayan salt room, thermal suite and hydrotherapy vitality pool are just the start. There is also the sophisticated Wellness Suite which attracts Surrey’s well toned elite and hotel guests alike. Discover everything from HIIT classes to a Mind & Body Studio focusing on mind-to-muscle connection with Hatha and Gravitonic yoga. Outside assault bikes, rowing machines and a 20m sled track sit within stunning parkland views making this the most scenic high-tech gyms in the land. 

Escape to the swimming pool

Viktor Kery/Fairmont Windsor Park

Later, I had time to explore the rest of the hotel, which bills itself as a modern and elegant country retreat. Designed by South African designer Margaret Morgan, the interiors are based on a neutral and calming grey palette (Christian Dior would’ve approved!) and layer sumptuous materials like velvets and suedes with marble and crystal detailing. Hallways and rooms — there are 251 rooms and 32 suites, the most luxurious of which is the Royal Signature Suite, with private access to the spa — are spacious, which is unusual for a grand country hotel. Fortunately for Sunak and Co. the same attention has been paid to the business visitor: there are 15 meeting rooms, giving the Tory tour group ample space for their team-building activities.

Outside, I found the sprawling grounds, which boast a lake complete with Koi carp; 1km nature walk and two beehives producing honeycombs that are served at breakfast and are simply heavenly. park the Long Walk is almost immediately visible with the castle standing proudly in the backdrop. For walking enthusiasts, Windsor Great Park is a mere 15-minute walk away and offers even more of the bucolic countryside to explore. 

The classic interiors are the work of South African designer Margaret Morgan

Viktor Kery/Fairmont Windsor Park

Dining and relaxation is central to the hotel’s ethos. On the right side of the hotel’s entrance is the classic mahogany panelled library complete with a perfectly curated selection of books while a fine selection of spirits is on tap. It is a games room by day; celebrity drinking hot spot by night. Opposite this is an old fashioned Mr Simms British sweet shop, a unique novelty, and further into the hotel is the rather fabulous 12.15 fine dining restaurant which newly appointed head chef Tim Sheed heads up focusing on local British produce with low food miles. So well reputed is he, that I went as far to break my son (a real foodie) out of his local boarding school so he could share and enjoy the incredible tasting menu. Perhaps not the raucous night out of my dormitory dreams, but its own moment of perfection, nonetheless.

An entrance fit for a King

Viktor Kery/Fairmont Windsor Park