The Castle Hotel Windsor sits majestically on Windsor’s quintessentially English High Street and is a popular choice for visitors to explore the area from. Sabi Phagura spoke to the property’s General Manager Sam Goss to see what’s changed since the onset of the pandemic.
Luxurious Magazine: It’s wonderful to see hotels opening up again and encouraging people to help the economy. Tell us what was it like when you had to close? Did you use lockdown to make any improvements to the hotel?
Sam Goss: While it was a real shame to close the doors, we used the time to give the hotel a soft refurbishment to ensure that guests will continue to be wowed when they visit us in the future. Lockdown provided an opportunity for us to refresh the whole property, inside and out in one go, without affecting our guests.
We also refocused our energy on supporting local charities and businesses, giving away our food and drink supplies to those in need at the time. We are like a family, so we ensured that we supported one another and had regular communication with our furloughed team.
LM: As staycations go, Windsor is an incredibly popular destination for tourists to come to. Have you seen evidence of this since reopening?
Sam Goss: Windsor is a destination known the world over. Windsor Castle is the number one attraction for many visitors, but there is more to see and do, from strolls through Windsor Great Park and The Long Walk, to boating experiences on the River Thames, and the horticultural delights of The Savill Garden in Egham.
Until 2020, Windsor mainly attracted overseas tourists, but we are heartened to see that people living in the UK are exploring this historic town.
LM: COVID-19 precautions have been put in place so things have changed. But some aspects have remained the same, such as antiques that are dotted about, which are markers of the passing of time. Could you please talk us through some of those?
Sam Goss: The hotel has a rich history dating back to 1528 when the property began life as The Mermaid Inn, brewing beer and cider for the residents of Windsor. In 1647, due to a shortage of small coins, the landlord at the time, George Pennington, created his own currency, named the Pennington Penny.
We recreated it in 2019 to pay homage to our history, as well as giving them to guests to purchase drinks at the hotel’s bar or gain loyalty rewards. For anyone interested in seeing the original Pennington Penny, it is available to view in the coin department at the British Museum in London.
LM: Has the menu changed in the Marco Pierre White restaurant due to COVID-19?
Sam Goss: For guests who visit the restaurant at this time, they can indulge in a variety of traditional dishes. From The Governor’s steak and ale pie to fillet of cod, or creamy polenta with Italian cheese, there is something for everyone. We work with local producers, so our menu regularly changes to reflect the seasonal ingredients available.
Our diners will notice that we have spaced out the dining tables to ensure social distancing.
LM: The large buffet is no longer available. What kind of experience is offered at breakfast now?
Sam Goss: We offer our guests the choice of having either a cosy breakfast in bed, or table service in our restaurant with views looking out over Windsor. A variety of homemade and high-quality dishes are still available, from pastries to fresh fruit, yoghurts, cereals, and cooked breakfasts tailored to personal preference. For guests that join us in our dining room, they can sit back, relax and take the time to enjoy breakfast at their leisure.
LM: The rooms are simply great – we were wowed by the huge beds in the suite! Talking about the décor, who designs the rooms and decides on the layout?
Sam Goss: Our rooms are designed with stylish comfort in mind. The décor enhances the history of the hotel to ensure that the property’s story takes centre stage. The design is kept neutral with accents of design flare, as well as modern amenities to suit the needs and desires of guests.
LM: Looking ahead to the ‘new normal’, what else is the hotel doing to ensure a comfortable stay for guests?
Sam Goss: We are Accor ALLSAFE and VisitBritain Good to Go certified and we offer each guest a complimentary facemask and hand sanitiser in their room, plus we ask that when visitors are in a public space, they also wear a face covering and keep to social distancing guidelines.
We are always looking at ways to enhance our guests’ stay and we recently added in-room exercise kits. We also ensure that our hotel still retains its welcoming and relaxing atmosphere, so that individuals can enjoy a luxury getaway with personable touches that make their visit one to remember.
Castle Hotel Windsor – Where and How?
Castle Hotel Windsor is located at 18 High Street, Windsor SL4 1LJ, United Kingdom. For more information and to contact Sam Goss, visit www.castlehotelwindsor.com.
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