If you know the steps to the Time Warp, you’ve probably already seen Oakley Court Hotel, if only in a movie theater during a midnight screening. The historic Windsor, England property served as Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s castle in Richard O’Brien’s 1975 film The Rocky Horror Picture Show and is featured prominently in the cult classic. Fans of the movie will recognize the gargoyles by the front entrance (they're actually plaster props left from the movie), the staircase, lobby, library (Dr. Scott’s office), and Drawing Room where the Transylvanian convention takes place. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the movie, and we checked in to get a peek at where it all began.
Hotel history: Oakley Court was built in 1859 for magistrate Richard Hall Say and his wife, Ellen. The 14-room estate passed through the Say family until the last member died in 1965. Without clear ownership, the Oakley fell into disrepair, but nearby Bray Studios found the dilapidated property to be perfect for their horror films. By the time The Rocky Horror Picture Show began filming at Oakley Court in 1974, parts of the roof had collapsed; Susan Sarandon actually caught pneumonia from from standing in the droughty castle wearing so little clothes. The current owners purchased Oakley Court in 2014 and have turned it into an inviting country retreat with a nod to its cinematic past.
Far from a static movie set, today this 118-room English estate along the Thames is a posh getaway surrounded by 35 acres of walking paths and gardens. A nine-hole golf course, tennis courts, riding stables, croquet lawn, pool, sauna, and exercise room are available to guests, as are bicycle rentals and boat trips in the spring and summer. Inside, the décor is English manor-style with grandfather clocks and wainscoting, but not stuffy or dusty. Guest rooms are fit for the Queen -- in fact, her majesty stayed here in 2009 for the annual Berkshire Swan Upping.
Rooms and dining: Guests enjoy free parking and WiFi. Rooms are modern with regal flair such as wingback chairs, writing desks, and heavy curtains. The common areas in the original Gothic house retain their Victorian and Edwardian décor with ornate fireplace mantels, leather furniture, wood paneling, oak bookshelves, and plenty of nooks to enjoy complimentary books and board games. Guests may take afternoon tea in any of the downstairs rooms, and can enjoy cocktails and/or light fare on the terrace overlooking the back lawn with a view of the willow-lined Thames. The award-winning Dining Room at Oakley Court serves modern European fare using herbs and vegetables gathered from the kitchen garden. The Scullery serves meals in a more relaxed atmosphere suited for families. Don't forget to snap a photo of the neon “The Butler Did It” sign.
Rates and packages: Rooms can be found for $206, and Oakley Court offers several add-on packages catering to couples, families, and even pets. The Family Unit Package includes activity packs for the kids, free use of bicycles, milk and cookies at bedtime, and a doggie bed. Guests receive a free night when two nights are booked. With any booking, a dog bed, toy and treat, and a donation to a local animal shelter can be added for $31.
Getting there: Oakley Court Hotel is 12 miles from Heathrow Airport, and Windsor Cars is an affordable and stylish way to arrive.