Horses and courses: There's more to Ascot than racing as an enjoyable gastronomic stay at The Royal Foresters proves
Showing me my room, head housekeeper Tracey suddenly breaks off, distracted by the fact the bathroom sink tap lever is not in line with the water spout.
"Sorry about this," she says realigning, "but if you don't get things like this right, what's the point?"
OCD some might say, but for me it was a ominously-pleasing indication of how The Royal Foresters in Ascot one of the Oakman Group's collection of premium boutique hotels, strives for perfection and customer delight.
A bed covered in a proliferation of pillows and cushions, a 49-inch wall-mounted flatscreen LG TV, Roberts digital radio, a Nespresso coffee maker with complimentary pods and a well-stocked minibar are all features of a sumptuous bedroom, juxtaposed by a beautiful and not-to-be-outdone ultra-modern bathroom with walk-in shower, complete with a choice of two heads.
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Our room is on the first floor, our mini balcony giving a nice view of the hotel’s patio area where many satisfied customers are enjoying the sun along with their drinks and food from the hotel’s well-appointed menu.
The hotel has no lifts but there are disabled rooms on the ground floor complete with wheelchair-friendly doors and wheel-in showers.
The aforementioned focus on detail is also mirrored in the hotel's popular restaurant, which has an ever-growing reputation, borne out by the amount of people I witnessed waiting patiently to be seated in the stylish interior restaurant or under the delightfully-illuminated and heated canopies on the expansive, atmospheric patio.
An open kitchen frames a blur of chefs milling from side to side at 100mph creating a plethora of mouth-watering dishes from the hotel's fixed lunch and dinner menu, and a daily specials for that extra choice.
The staff are professional, efficient and pleasant and very attentive to the diner's needs. I opted for the HLT for my lunch, a generous grilled halloumi, lettuce and free-range mayo sandwich complete with amazing triple-cooked chips.
In the evening the plate of choice for both me and my wife was the oregano-marinated lamb rump, served with sea salt and mint butter new potatoes, Fior Di Ricotta, green beans, caramelised onions, sundried tomatoes, rocket and drizzled with basil pesto. Simply delicious. My daughter plumped for the pork belly, slow-roasted in cider and finished under the grill with mashed potato, green beans, savoy cabbage, peas, apple sauce, a towering piece of crackling and gravy. I’m assured that it was just as delicious!
Our dishes cost £9.50 for the HLT, £18 for the Oregano Lamb rump and £16.50 for the belly pork. We opted for the Moraleda Chardonnay as a perfect accompaniment, a big and bold wine with tropical fruit flavours and a hint of vanilla, priced at £27 a bottle.
And breakfast is not to be sniffed at. Showcasing locally-sourced produce this was, arguably, the best full English I have ever had. Anything on the breakfast menu is included in the B&B price.
It’s difficult to suggest where the hotel could improve – an extending shaving mirror would help as the modern circular sink means having to lean over to the wall mirror, but that’s nitpicking really.
This was a wonderful, relaxing break which, keeping up the racing parlance, will remain a clear favourite of mine.
A room for two with breakfast at the Royal Foresters starts from £131 which, given its premium quality, means you get more bang for your buck in my opinion.
But the news gets better. If you get under starter’s orders and out of the trap quickly, the Oakman Group are currently offering 33% discount on breaks taken before June 30, meaning a night’s bed and breakfast is available from £99.
To discover more about the Oakman Group hotels, go to www.oakmaninns.co.uk/hotels and use the code JUNE33 to obtain the discount.
Things to do around Ascot
It's not all about horse racing! While Ascot High Street is very small, neighbouring Bracknell and Windsor are more than enough to supply the most voracious of shoppers and just a few minutes' drive away. We spent a pleasant day in Windsor - home to Eton public school - where we enjoyed the popular Windsor Duck Tour - is it a bus, is it a boat - it's both! Yes a tour on the Thames in the capable hands of driver Paul and knowledgeable guide AG made for a great start to our day.
Typical prices are £21 for Adults (15+), £18 for concessions and £13 for children aged 2-14 (under 2s free). For more information, visit www.windsorducktours.co.uk
If you like a beer - then another! - you might like to try Windsor & Eton Brewery's Duke Street Experience tour, where we learned about the history and methods of brewing, and a few samples along the way. Hic! For more details, visit www.webrew.co.uk/brewery-tours/#book
Last but not least was a visit to Windsor Castle - the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. Founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, it has since been the home of 39 monarchs. Today The Queen spends most of her private weekends at the Castle.
Visit St George's Chapel, and stand on the spot where Harry and Meghan got married, as well as the stone under which lies the tomb of King Henry VIII himself!
And then there are the many opulent rooms filled with treasures and exotic collections - an experience second to none.
Prices are £23.50 per adult, £21.20 over 60/student, £13.50 for a child (5-16)/disabled, U5s free. For more information, visit www.rct.uk/visit/windsor-castle
A full day's parking at Windsor costs £9.50 at Romney Lock Road car park.