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Mostly Food & Travel Journal


Castle Hotel Windsor

Castle Hotel Windsor Afternoon Tea - Sofitel Sensory Storytelling

Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar and Grill, Windsor

 


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Hotel Reviews
- The Castle Hotel, Windsor

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Castle Hotel Windsor

Castle Hotel Windsor Afternoon Tea - Sofitel Sensory Storytelling

Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar and Grill, Windsor


Castle Hotel Windsor

castle Windsor is just 23 miles (37 km) from Central London with convenient transport links. It’s not far from Heathrow Airport and many visitors are lucky enough to get an aerial view of Windsor Castle from the plane. It’s a shame that a relatively small number make it out of the capital to come and get a closer look at the castle and the beautiful town.

Windsor is south of the River Thames, which forms its boundary with its ancient twin, Eton. Yes, that’s where one finds that iconic public school that invented the celebrated Eton Mess dessert. Runnymede – where the Magna Carta was signed 800 years ago – is a short distance away.

The village of Old Windsor, just over 2 miles  to the south, predates what is now called Windsor by around 300 years; in the past Windsor was formally referred to as New Windsor to distinguish the two. The original castle was built in the 11th century after the Norman invasion in 1066 by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I it has been used by the reigning monarch and is the longest-occupied palace in Europe. The poet Geoffrey Chaucer held the honorific post of ‘Clerk of the Works’ at Windsor Castle in 1391.

castleA visitor to Windsor will likely need some equally historic and refined accommodation, and it probably doesn’t come better than the Castle Hotel. It couldn’t be more conveniently situated for a tourist who wants to see everything. It’s in the very centre of Windsor’s Georgian High Street which is a scene reminiscent of the old Quality Street chocolates tin at Christmas, although it’s magical at any time of year.

Castle Hotel began life in 1528 and was then called The Mermaid Inn. It brewed its own beer and cider for the locals. In the 1700s the innkeeper Richard Martin was awarded the first of the hotel’s eight Royal Warrants – to provide horses and carriages for the royal household. In fact, if one arrives by car, then one will note the archway through which the carriages would have driven. It eventually became one of the most prestigious hotels in town, and by the 19th century Castle Hotel was the place to be seen for the worthies of the time.

One might expect a rather dusty expression of faded glory, but not a bit of it. All rooms were renovated a couple of years ago. It has retained and enhanced its original features but guest comfort is evidently prominent in this rather smart hotel. There are all the contemporary benefits of an international hotel – high-end toiletries, bathrobes, coffee machines and, in our room at least, a shelf of royal biographies and the like. There is good wi-fi in all rooms. One will love the Georgian ambiance but I hear Georgian wi-fi wasn’t up to much, so consider yourself lucky to be living in this modern era.

castleThe public rooms are characterful with fireplaces, wooden staircases, paintings and sumptuous soft furnishings. The Castle Hotel is what one might describe as smart-cosy. It isn’t a marble and gold emporium of glitz but more of a confident get-away with hints of history. One might find a red Guards uniform in one corner, reflecting the long association with the other Castle which is just opposite. There are comfy nooks in which to read some history books.

The bar is well stocked and can provide a rejuvenating beverage after a day of sightseeing. The restaurant offers classic dishes including a version of the aforementioned Eton Mess. One couldn’t wish for a better location for afternoon tea, perhaps looking out over Sir Christopher Wren’s Guild Hall opposite.

The Castle Hotel is a gem. It embraces its historic location in stylish fashion but this is a modern, light and contemporary place to enjoy a unique break. I’ll return for another stay with a copious breakfast in front of a crackling fire.

Castle Hotel
18 High Street
Windsor SL4 1LJ

Phone: +44 (0)1753 252800

Visit Castle Hotel Windsor here.
food and travel reviews

Castle Hotel Windsor Afternoon Tea - Sofitel Sensory Storytelling

Castle Hotel Windsor Windsor is, to my mind at least, the place to be in December. Shops glow with a comforting light, tinsel twinkles, festive goods tempt and wreaths hang in Dickensian fashion on many a front door. Yes, Christmas approaches with the prospect of chilly nights and log fires.

The Castle Hotel is in the thick of seasonal celebrations and it is bedecked with Christmas glow. The open fire beckons beneath a mantle festooned with garlands. The small-paned windows are hung with baubles but still can be seen a view of the ancient Guildhall. The scene is completed in true Victorian tradition by a cosy corner for some afternoon tea, and in this case with a bit of innovation!

Castle Hotel Windsor Sofitel Sensory Storytelling Afternoon Tea is on offer at The Castle Hotel, which can be enjoyed as part of a package. The experience is brought together by MGallery by Sofitel and Lizzie Ostrom, a renowned scent historian from Odette Toilette. One is invited to select one’s preferred fragrance from a range of three bespoke scents. It was in fact the Egyptians who invented perfume, which was used for religious ceremonies and by rich Egyptians, but the Romans produced perfume for the wider population. In Paris in 1190, perfume started being produced commercially.

“Smell,” says Lizzie Ostrom, “is so often described as evocative, a trigger for buried memories and a poignant reminder of a place we once knew. Often we form these associations by accident. We don’t try to lay down a scent memory, rather it comes to us involuntarily.” The guest’s chosen scent will waft through their room throughout their visit to ensure fond memories of their stay. A diffuser in the bedroom or suite enables the guest to adjust the intensity of the fragrance. We chose Hart in the Park from the selection. This had a hint of orange along with the scent of the great outdoors and an aroma inspired by Windsor Great Park at the end of the road.

Castle Hotel Windsor Not only will guests enjoy a nice cuppa but also a specially created cocktail. In our case it was the Windsor Dynasty made from smoked vodka, lavender-infused gin and orange in various forms. This was zesty and refreshing, deceiving the drinker with its fruit and masking the fact that this is quite a potent mix. Potent and delicious!

But afternoon tea is really all about the food. The Castle Hotel has a contemporary take on the usual 3-tier stand. Delicate finger sandwiches and smoked salmon graced the middle shelf. The ground floor held some rather good scones. These were generous, flavourful and had a real home-made quality about them. The associated sweet condiments of clotted cream and strawberry jam were there in equally good quantity.

But it’s usual for the top tier of the stand to contain the fancies. I have had many an afternoon tea and it’s this final selection that either makes or breaks a Tea experience. I dislike over-sweet mousses and anything glowing neon-green. The Castle Hotel produced a selection that would have been appreciated by any afternoon tea aficionado. There were slices of mini Victoria sponge giving a nod to the folks from the real castle across the road. The orange delices had great tang and mirrored the flavour and fragrance of the cocktail; and royal purple macarons were light and almondy. Everything reflected the location perfectly.

Castle Hotel Windsor Elizabeth Taylor once said, "The beauty of fragrance is that it speaks to your heart …and hopefully someone else’s." That’s a lovely sentiment and especially when the sensual experience includes a rather nice afternoon tea spread.

MGallery by Sofitel, the intimate collection of boutique hotels with stories to tell, unveils Sensory Storytelling. Available from 31st October, guests staying at Francis Hotel, Bath; Castle Hotel, Windsor; and Queen’s Hotel, Cheltenham will be able to choose their own scent. Priced at £170.00 per person, this includes an overnight stay, room fragrance, signature Sensory Storytelling cocktail and Afternoon Tea.

The Castle Hotel
18 High Street
Windsor SL4 1LJ
United Kingdom

Phone +44 (0) 1753 252800

Visit The Castle Hotel Windsor here.

food and travel reviews

Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar and Grill, Windsor

Marco Pierre whiteMarco Pierre White has long been considered the wild child of the culinary scene, although he actually seems like a rather charming character in interview these days. For those who don’t hail from these shores, Marco is a celebrated British chef, restaurateur, and television personality, and was perhaps the first British celebrity chef; he was, at the time, the youngest chef to be awarded three Michelin stars.

Marco Pierre White Steakhouse and Grill in Windsor couldn’t be better placed for locals and tourists alike. It can be found in one of the most beautiful Georgian buildings in Windsor at the Castle Hotel which is just opposite Sir Christopher Wren’s Windsor Guildhall. It’s just a few minutes’ walk from Windsor Castle, the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the UK and one of the Queen’s favourite homes. It’s a beautiful spot with classic Dickensian charm, although the Steakhouse is bright and modern and occupies the street side of the Castle Hotel, so it’s unmissable.

Marco Pierre white The restaurant is Marco-themed with black and white images of the chef as a young man wielding a meat cleaver, but there is also a poster of the more mature restaurateur in sedate pose in an armchair positioned to welcome diners to this rather smart eponymous establishment.

Marco offers classic dishes as is fitting for this iconic location. The name suggests steak as the main menu item and that does seem popular with regulars and hotel guests alike. The menu lists a variety of cuts which are succulent and well-flavoured, being aged for 28 days. Yes, that hanging does make a difference. For those wanting to push the gastronomic boat out then order the Côte de Boeuf from Scottish Buccleuch grass-fed cattle. This outstanding steak is for two hungry guests.

There are retro dishes aplenty and the menu is no worse for that. Good to see prawn cocktail here. It was popular in the 70s because it was good but perhaps too ubiquitous. It’s a standard presentation here with the prawns bathed in sauce Marie Rose, and buttered brown bread on the side.

Marco Pierre white Brandade of mackerel should be a signature starter. The smoked fish is laced with a fresh horseradish mayonnaise which was well-balanced and didn’t overpower the mackerel. Served in a preserving jar with toast Melba this was a substantial delight!

Chicken à la Forestière is a great-value main dish, being under £15. Roast chicken supreme, wild mushrooms, wilted baby spinach, potatoes Dauphinoise, made a wonderfully umami-filled plateful. The chicken was glistening with a savoury mahogany lacquer and the dish tasted every bit as good as it looked. I don’t often return to restaurants and order the same dish again but it would be tempting in this case.

For those looking for lighter fare I would recommend Marco’s Classic Caesar Salad. Cos lettuce, avocado, anchovies, croutons, Parmesan and topped with grilled shrimps was a hearty meal but one which made this diner feel noble – full and noble.

Desserts are traditional. Cambridge Burnt Cream is a British version of Crème Brulée. It was introduced at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1879 with the college arms scorched on top of the cream with a branding iron. Eton Mess was bound to be on the menu as the famous public school is just a short distance away. The Box Tree’s Eton Mess is described as the perfect mistake! Yes, indeed, the first Eton Mess is rumoured to have been something of an accident, but this mishap has been refined into a moreish confection for any lover of sweet meringue and cream. Another substantial helping.

Marco Pierre white I rarely cover celebrity restaurants. They don’t need my help to fill tables. I often muse that perhaps they don’t even need to produce good-quality food to have a full house. But Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar and Grill Windsor was a pleasant surprise. The food was first class, the menu was classic and comforting, and the execution of those dishes was spot-on. Portions were generous and the prices reasonable. I’ll be back for half a Côte de Boeuf.

Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar and Grill Windsor
18 High Street
Windsor
Berkshire SL4 1LJ

Phone: 01753 641321

Email address: info@mpwsteakhousewindsor.com

Visit Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar and Grill Windsor here
 

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