Built in 1550 as a royal hunting lodge, Great Fosters is now a hotel that serves meals along with a luxury afternoon tea. With my Canadian mother and sister visiting from Canada and realising they’d never experienced a proper English afternoon tea, I decided to take them to Great Fosters.
Character greets you at the door, as you must stoop to get through the little door within a door. The lobby is beautiful, the ceiling is ornately plastered and there’s a massive fire place at one end.
We were ushered down a wide, panelled corridor to the cocktail bar for our tea. The room was pleasant, bright and modern with touches of history. It was busy enough to create a nice vibe but not so busy as to be crowded.
You can request, when booking, to have your afternoon tea in the Anne Boleyn room. I preferred this room to the cocktail bar and would recommend requesting it, particularly in winter.
Set in 50 acres, a beautiful formal garden along with a Saxon moat are nearest the building. The terrace overlooks these and is the best choice, weather permitting, for afternoon tea.
We opted for the regular afternoon tea (£24.50.) The price compares favourably to hotels in London, though admittedly I don’t have anything to compare it to in Surrey. There is also a gluten free afternoon tea.
With three pages of tea to choose from we selected an Assam, a Rooibos and hand-tied flowering Osmanthus. All were top quality.
To begin, we selected sandwiches from our waitress’s tray. I chose (from left to right) Coronation chicken on caraway bread, Smoked salmon and cream cheese on beetroot bread, Marinated cucumber and crème fraîche on basil bread and Egg mayonnaise and cress on wholegrain bread. All were lovely and, being famished, I had a second helping.
Service was very attentive and decadent. Nothing was too much trouble, more tea, different tea, more milk, more jam, anything was immediately provided.
When I finally decided I’d had my fill of sandwiches we moved on to the main event. Three tiers of tasty treats to feast on.
On bottom we had three fruit breads, a super rich brownie, an almond cake and a carrot cake.
In the middle tier, wrapped up in a napkin, was six warm scones. One raison and one plain each, smothered in jam and clotted cream. They were divine, the star of the day.
We made our way to the very visually appealing top tier – Black Forest, passionfruit, chocolate caramel shortbread, apricot tart, green tea & raspberry macaron and in the middle, strawberries in jelly. Full stomachs did not deter us from polishing off this level. Some were very sweet and would been perfect for someone with a sweet tooth, like Ann.
Once we had eaten everything save the fruit bread, the waiter asked if we would like to take it home with us. Yes. please, my children would love me to bring them home a treat of fruit bread. Maybe.
The lesson is, don’t overstuff yourself, they do doggy bags (not normally something I associate with the UK.)
We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Great Fosters. It was a perfect choice for “foreign” tourists to immerse themselves in English history and enjoy a proper English afternoon tea.
Great Fosters, Stroude Road, Egham, Surrey, TW20 9UR
Large car park