Hotel check: Foxhills

WHAT’S IT LIKE? A hotel and sporting resort, with more of a private club feel to it than a hotel (to its advantage). Privately-owned, it has obviously had a huge amount of money and attention devoted to it, yet avoids being eccentric in either service or decor while retaining the personal touch. There are some 400 acres of countryside including two 18-hole golf courses and one nine hole, and you can walk for a couple of hours through the grounds and have no idea of being in extremely-crowded Surrey.

WHERE IS IT? Close to both Heathrow airport (20 minutes depending on traffic), Woking and junction 11 of the M25 which is only five minutes away, and with direct trains links in to London Waterloo.

ROOM FACILITIES the 70 bedrooms and 12 apartments are in several buildings gathered around swimming pools, tennis courts, or, in one case, in the old stables. Foxhills takes its name from the famous parliamentarian Charles James Fox who lived on the estate in the early nineteenth century, but the Manor House dates from 1830-40, after Fox’s time, and was designed by Basevi, a protégé of John Soane and cousin of Disraeli who was responsible for several classical London terraces (Belgrave and Thurloe Squares, Pelham Crescent as well as the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge). A little known fact outside Cambridgeshire is that he died falling from the Bell Tower of Ely Cathedral while inspecting repairs. There are no bedrooms in the Manor House, just the restaurant bar and function rooms (see below). We stayed in the new 28-bedroom Lyne House (where bedrooms 44-71 are located). It is modern, comfortable, has free wifi, high definition TVs, air conditioning, good soundproofing (though there’s little noise from roads or aircraft anyway), and had good tea and coffee making facilities (Including fresh milk), mini bar, and a good size bath and separate shower.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS The Manor Restaurant divides into three sections for private functions – the Terrace Room, Music Room and Orangery, though it is this last which would afford more privacy. In addition there is the Summerhouse and then Golf Club House with their own kitchens where events can be held. On a busy Saturday evening there were several large private dinners taking place as well as family meals and romantic tables for two, all successfully managed by the staff. The food was excellent – and on a dinner, bed and breakfast rate, included in the price, although a la carte choices are extra to this (a flat extra fee of £15 per person for three courses).

BUSINESS AND MEETINGS FACILITIES There are nine meeting rooms, all in the Manor House, some on the first floor with views out over the terrace and golf course. On the first floor The Pine Room (wood-panelled) with an antique fireplace can host private dinners up to 16 and conferences up to 14. The Bessier Room can seat up to 20 for dinner and has a private entertainment screens, LCD projector and flip charts while the Briscoe Room is slightly smaller. The Study on the ground floor is the smallest meeting room with its picture of the House of Commons over the fireplace, while the Executive Ballroom is a formal meeting room for 24 in a boardroom layout while the Clubhouse can seat up to 180 for private dining and has lots of natural light and a balcony overlooking one of the golf courses.

LEISURE FACILITIES Children will be wowed by The Summerhouse, a dedicated building with children’s swimming pool, play area including Wii, table tennis, table football and air hockey as well as a “kid’s gym” – for member’s children, though teenage hotel guests can use it. This youth club (3-18 years) is OFSTED registered and is run by staff with NNEB and NVQ level 3 qualified staff. There is also a brasserie style restaurant that can be accessed from here which looks out onto one of two outdoor swimming pools. The spa and the extremely well-equipped gym (Technogym including the new Kinesis equipment) as well as the fourth swimming pool (adults only) are in the same building as the Health Spa, Golf Clubhouse and Bar XIX (for golfers, really). There are several tennis courts, and three golf courses.

TEAM BUILDING everything from off-road driving to casinos, gala dinners and fund-raising events. Team building events are outsourced to KDM Events (www.kdmevents.com). For conferences day delegate rates start from £90 per person with 24-hour rates starting from £290 weekdays, £220 weekends. This includes main meeting room hire, equipment hire including two flip charts, screen, LCD projector and delegate stationary, wifi, three servings of tea and coffee, freshly sliced fruit and muffins, cookies, cake and smoothies, mineral water and cordials, the option of two-course lunch in the restaurant or a working lunch, complimentary parking, fully-equipped business centre and a selection of pick and mix sweets. 

VERDICT Extremely impressive. Not at all like a hotel, but with all the facilities and service, good dining, lovely grounds and the sort of leisure-side that only a well functioning club with private members could hope to support. “Our aim is simple: when you leave Foxhills you feel better than when you arrived” Having stayed there, they succeed. For those who like an active weekend, there can’t be many places better so close to the M25. 

Tom Otley

FACT FILE

  • How many rooms? There are 70 rooms and suites, and 12 apartments.
  • Room highlights Fresh milk for tea and coffee, and the spacious bathroom.
  • Price Internet rates for a midweek stay in September started from £140 for a King room.
  • Contact Foxhills, Ottershaw, Surrey; tel +44 (0)1932 872 050; foxhills.co.uk, best4events.co.uk/foxhills

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