De Vere is a collection of historic country estates and houses in Britain, comprising over 260 meeting rooms and more than 1,800 bedrooms in locations around London, the south east of England and the Cotswolds. The group also operates The Grand Connaught Rooms in central London, though this does not include accommodation.
The Beaumont Estate in Old Windsor comprises 44 acres of grounds, an 18th century mansion, and a Georgian mansion house (The White House). Originally built for Lord Weymouth in the 14th century, it subsequently became a boys’ catholic boarding school from 1854-1967, with nods to its history in the artwork and architecture. It is primarily designed for the MICE market and features a total of 45 event spaces.
The property underwent the first phase of a £12 million refurbishment in 2018, which included the creation of new luxury bedrooms and a refurbishment of the hotel’s 45 meeting spaces. At the start of this year it unveiled the results of the renovation of The White House, which includes six meetings and events spaces on the ground floor and 26 bedrooms and suites across two floors. The property is still in the process of refurbishing its final 28 duplex bedrooms along with the swimming pool.
Where is it?
Just off Burfield Road in Old Windsor, three miles from the centre of Windsor. It’s easily accessible by car, close to the M3, M4 and M25, and a convenient 15-minute drive from Heathrow airport. Guests can also use train connections from Egham Station, located three miles from the property.
Nearby attractions include the Magna Carta landmark in Runneymede, Windsor Great Park, Windsor Castle and Windsor Racecourse.
What's it like?
The estate is well sign-posted if arriving by car and features a drive flanked by greenery, with a barrier that opens as you reach it. The estate is made up of several buildings and feels quite campus-like – see the illustrated map provided by the estate above. There are four car parks dotted around the site with complimentary parking. Car Park 2 and 3 are the best for reaching the main reception.
The lobby is large and modern, with a hand sanitiser station as you enter (there are several throughout the estate and a portable one in the rooms) and several desks behind plexiglass. Check-in from 1500 was simple and I was handed a map of the estate and given directions to my room – quite necessary given the vast nature of the place. There is an express checkout at 1100, with guests able to drop off their keys in a box located in reception.
The décor is quite literally old-school, with vestiges of the past decorating the walls – typewriters, academia-inspired artworks and even a pair of glasses found during the renovation. Chests also line the corridors and guests can dive into the property’s history by leafing through the photography books on show. Aside from the school memorabilia, the property also references Windsor’s ties to royalty – something that appeals to the international clientele. Indeed, Queen Victoria made three official visits to the school in the late 1880s.
The corridors in the main building can feel quite cold, both in atmosphere and temperature, but this changes dramatically when you reach the aptly named The White House. This feels like a boutique hotel within the grounds, with a warmer colour palette and a more luxurious feel than the rest of the property, explaining why it houses the deluxe bedrooms and suites.
A winding staircase leads up to the accommodations, with a glistening chandelier overhead, while the ground floor houses The Parlour, a light-filled lounge with plush armchairs and matching floral wallpaper – fitting for a spot of afternoon tea overlooking the estate’s grounds. There’s also a reception desk where guests can check in for stays, though this is not in use during the low season. The White House can also be rented out exclusively, with the building blocked off from the main hotel in the corridor.
It’s also worth exploring the estate’s expansive grounds during your stay – from natural ponds to specially commissioned sculptures by local artist Emma Stothard and a war memorial. Plus there is free 100MB wifi outside, a USP during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It’s a bit of a maze and the rooms can be quite some distance from the check-in desk, though this allows you to explore the rest of the property. Rooms range from entry-level Academy Guest rooms (26-33 sqm) to enormous open-plan 53 sqm suites in The White House.
My suite in the White House, named after housemaster Thomas Dunphy, was very spacious and featured tartan accents, tan leather furnishings, and academia-inspired illustrations. The huge bed is the focus of the room and it’s easy to understand why once you spend a night in it. Myself and my guest barely noticed that we were sharing as it could easily fit three people. We could not hear any noise from the building during the night, but the estate is under the Heathrow flight path so you will hear the planes pass over if you’re a light sleeper.
There are USB ports, sockets and lamps on either side of the bed, along with a classic Roberts radio, a retro telephone and a Dyson fan in the corner of the room. There is very fast wifi which made it easy to work in the room, and the hotel has an online system which allows guests to request free services such as towels, additional tea and coffee, or to report a fault. This can also be used to book a table at the restaurant or to order food to be collected from the Beaumont Restaurant.
Large windows overlook the grounds and let in natural light, though the room was a little dark as the lighting is not very powerful and the weather was quite dreary during our visit.
The room also has a large wardrobe with mirrors on the façade, which includes a minibar (though no contents), a safe, iron and ironing board. Amenities include a bag of miniature H2K Harrogate toiletries (with full-size versions in the bathroom), a small TV, robes and slippers, a Nespresso machine and tea-making facilities.
The tiled bathroom is very sleek with a separate toilet, his and hers sinks, a vanity table, an inviting roll-top bath and a powerful walk-in shower just behind a glass screen. My one qualm was that there was no bin here, so we relocated the one from the bedroom.
Food and drink
The hotel has two dining venues, 1705 Restaurant and Bar and The Beaumont Restaurant, both of which serve local, seasonally changing menus and are used interchangeably depending on the number of guests.
The hotel was using the former during our stay, named after the year that the house was restored by architect James Gibbs. It was once again redesigned in 2018 and features a casual bar area with a separate warm and well-lit dining space with wooden floors, brass and leather accents and furnishings in mustard and teal. We chose a table beneath one of the few olive trees, which is a lovely design feature, and coincidentally ordered quite Mediterranean fare.
While it has quite a modern décor, a whitewashed brick wall chronicles the former school’s rowing achievements, with a display of black-and-white images and suspended oars – we even wondered why the restaurant wasn’t called the Boathouse. The outdoor courtyard (the ‘school yard’) strewn with fairy lights is a great addition, particularly for the summer months.
The menu reflects that of a pub, with the high prices of the mains not quite fitting with the quality of the food. Our starters were a bit hit and miss – we shared delicious tomato and red pepper hummus with feta, pumpkin seeds and pitta bread (£5), but a bland vegetable mezze platter (£6.50).
Our mains included roast salmon with kale and a chorizo and chickpea cassoulet (£20), and Kilhorne Bay breaded scampi with parmesan and truffle oil chips, mushy peas and tartare sauce (£15.50). The dessert, however, was just as indulgent as I hoped for – a generous sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream (£8).
A buffet breakfast is served from 0700 until 1000 in the same space and includes both cold and hot options. It’s ideal for a quick breakfast, though the coffee machine was quite poor.
As you walk along the corridors, there are various wings which house meeting rooms and event spaces, including the large contemporary Hanover Suite in the main house with capacity for 700 guests theatre-style, and the spectacular Grade-II listed 19th century chapel which features an ornate painted ceiling, stained-glass windows, a drinks booth and private bar – this can entertain up to 200 guests.
De Vere has managed to retain the property’s original features while also introducing 21st century technology. Each space includes smart technology and fast wifi with a maximum bandwidth of 1GB.
There is also a lounge area for every four-five meeting rooms where guests can treat themselves to complimentary snacks and beverages, and there’s a new business lounge where colleagues can relax in between meetings.
The Conference Village at the side of the main house offers four suites including the Balmoral for up to 180 guests.
Within The White House alone, there are six smaller meetings and events spaces including The Hastings room, formerly the Matron’s study; The Roxburghe, a former school chemist; and The Remenham, named after the 14th century owner of the property.
Customers can use the group’s Smart Booker engine tool to book a meeting room or event space, picking a destination, preferred date, time and number of delegates.
There’s a large gym to the right of reception, and plenty of outdoor space for activities and woodland trails. A swimming pool will reopen this summer following a renovation.
This is a great venue for MICE as meeting planners have a vast choice of spaces which can cater to a variety of events, whether they are looking for a glam dinner venue in a historic setting (The Chapel) or a more serious daytime session in one of the contemporary rooms. The outdoor space is a real perk following the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly for team-building activities and alfresco dining.
It wouldn’t necessarily be my choice for a leisure trip, as it has quite a corporate atmosphere and the dining is not very inspiring, but it is certainly worth considering for a business trip given its proximity to the airport, Windsor and central London. Those looking for a more luxurious stay should opt for a room in The White House section of the property.
Ample meetings and events spaces to suit different occasions
Alfresco team-building followed by a celebratory dinner at The Chapel
Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in April started from £170 for an Academy Guest room
Burfield Road, SL4 2JJ; 01753 640000; devere.co.uk