Castle Hotel Windsor

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Discover the history of the Castle Hotel Windsor – MGallery by Sofitel, which has been a beloved local landmark since 1582.

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Castle Hotel Windsor – MGallery by Sofitel, a member of Historic Hotels Worldwide since 2018, dates back to 1528.


The Castle Hotel Windsor – MGallery by Sofitel started out as a simple tavern cloistered within the winding roads of Windsor. Founded in 1582, the inn serviced the tradesmen and laborers who toiled within the local market. The tavern underwent a significant change to its identity several decades later, however, when its innkeeper, George Pennington, renamed it to “The Mermaid Inn.” Due to the homemade ciders and beers that he brewed on-site, Pennington quickly rose in prominence as its steward. His beverages became so popular that Pennington had to manufacture his own currency to cater to the demand. Pennington distributed his own tokens that depicted a mermaid on their surface. Each one of these special tokens was worth a single drink at the inn! Over time, the inn developed a considerable reputation throughout the area. When Richard Martin assumed the role of innkeeper during the 1700s, The Mermaid Inn received a glorious distinction from the Crown. Martin had become the building’s new innkeeper while also functioning as the locale’s postmaster and a hackney man to the King. Under Martin’s watch, the inn obtained a Royal Warrant to provide horses and carriages for the Royal Household. This was to be the first of eight Royal Warrants that the British Royal Family would bestow upon the business. To commemorate that special moment, Martin rechristened the building as “The Castle Inn.”

As the area blossomed into a vibrant urban center during the 19th century, so too did The Castle Inn. By the start of the 1800s, The Castle Inn had grown to become one of the region’s grandest hotels. Many illustrious luminaries were soon frequenting the building regularly. The Castle Inn was particularly considered to be among the best places to dine in all of Berkshire, with such prominent individuals like the Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, coming to feast on the inn’s fare. AccorHotels has presided over this magnificent hotel since 2015 as part of its esteemed MGallery collection. Known today as the Castle Hotel Windsor, Sofitel has ushered in a new era of prosperity for the business. Under Sofitel’s stewardship, the building’s rich heritage has been preserved for future generations to enjoy. And even though the building continues to be one of the Windsor’s best hotels, it is also among the city’s most historic landmarks, too. Very little of its interior has changed over the 500 years that the hotel has been active, with its walls serving as a terrific time capsule for the city’s storied past. Now also a member of Historic Hotels Worldwide, AccorHotels invites any traveler passing through Windsor to stop by the stunning Castle Hotel Windsor. This fantastic historic hotel is truly unrivaled in its institutional heritage and luxurious, world-class service.

  • About the Location +

    The Castle Hotel Windsor resides within the shadow of Castle Windsor, one of the United Kingdom’s greatest historical landmarks. Currently recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this magnificent ancient fortress has been continuously inhabited by the English (and British) Royal Family for close to a millennia. William the Conqueror first constructed the citadel just four years after his conquest of England in 1066, selecting a hill atop an old Anglo-Saxon hunting ground near the Thames. Taking some 16 years in total to complete, the structure was meant to protect against a land invasion down the western approaches into London. While the current castle is a sprawling complex measuring nearly 600,000 square feet in length, William originally developed a simple motte and bailey upon the site. But over the course of the next several centuries, his many descendants would expand the complex considerably. His great-grandson, King Henry II, subsequently converted the entire structure into stone and developed a series of royal apartments that transformed the castle into a royal palace. One of the most recognizable features of Windsor Castle made its debut at the time, as well—the iconic Round Tower, which replaced the original wooden keep.

    Windsor Castle’s defenses were ultimately put to the test when a group of landowning nobles incited a rebellion to overthrow King John I during a conflict remembered as the “First Barons War.” The disgruntled aristocrats had specifically instigated their revolt over outrage from the king’s refusal to abide by the Magna Carta. Amid the brief, yet destructive civil war that followed, a few rebel barons led their respective armies to Windsor Castle and besieged it for two months. Amazingly, the castle managed to resist the efforts of the invaders, becoming one of just two royal fortresses throughout all of southeast England to remain under King John’s control. When his son, Henry III, inherited Windsor Castle, he subsequently directed a massive building project to ensure that the complex maintained its imposing character. The new king specifically reinforced the walls by another 24 feet and installed catapults everywhere within each ward. Henry III also instructed the creation of numerous tunnels and sally-ports from which the castle’s garrison could launch surprise attacks directed at any hostile force.

    King Edward III further augmented the imposing fortress, investing some £50,000 throughout the whole process. Starting in the 1350s, Edward instructed the Bishop of Windsor, William of Wykeham, to completely reconstruct the entire Upper Ward of Windsor Castle. The clergymen oversaw the creation of new cylindrical parapets around the wards’ primary entrance, as well as the comprehensive renovation of new private residences around the central courtyard known as the “Quadrangle.” Additional components built under the direction of King Edward included the Curfew Tower, St. George’s Chapel, and the Lower Ward’s entire curtain wall. (Located in the Upper Ward, the St. George’s Chapel served for a while as the headquarters for the legendary Order of the Garter. It also functioned as the eventual tomb for 11 different sovereigns.) The whole project proved to be a massive undertaking, even outlasting the life of the king himself. It would not be until seven years into the reign of his grandson, Richard II, that the construction work finally concluded. Nevertheless, King Edward III’s impact upon the castle was felt for generations thereafter, as it remained largely untouched for decades until the time of the Stuart monarchs during the 17th century.

    When Charles II reclaimed the throne following the Interregnum, he installed brilliant baroque-inspired architecture in all the royal apartments. Brilliant textiles and spectacular tapestries became normal sights within Windsor Castle, giving it a stunning regal ambiance. Charles’ changes remained in effect well into the 19th century, too, save for a brief series of Neoclassical renovations undertaken by King George III. But the castle’s Gothic appearance changed significantly under George’s heir, King George IV. Even though George IV ruled for just a decade, both he and his artistic advisor, Sir Charles Long, instituted a series of major changes in Windsor Castle. Among the modifications they oversaw were changes to its masonry, as well as the layouts for several preexisting embattlements, like the Round Tower. But King George IV also supervised the creation of several new facilities on-site, including the present State Apartments, the Grand Corridor, and the gorgeous Waterloo Chamber. The most recent renovations to occur at Windsor Castle transpired fairly recently in 1992, after a devastating fire broke out in a chapel constructed during the Victorian era. Suffering momentous damage, the subsequent work took five years to completely repair. Fortunately, Castle Windsor has reemerged stronger than ever, standing triumphantly once more as a symbol of British culture and heritage.

  • About the Architecture +

    Dating back centuries, the current façade of the Castle Hotel Windsor features some of the finest Georgian-style architecture in all of the United Kingdom. Georgian architecture itself is among the most predominant in the British Isles, defining the features for all kinds of buildings ranging from grand municipal structures to quaint country manors. Its name is a reference to its origins, having first appeared during the reign of King George I in the early 1700s. The form would remain popular in Great Britain for the next several decades, before petering out around the death of his distant relative, George IV. But while the form’s moniker refers to Hanoverian monarchs, they actually had little to do with its spread. Instead, the work of great English architects Inigo Jones, James Gibbs, and Christopher Wren significantly established what would become known as the “Georgian” style. Inspired by the Roman architectural elements of antiquity, professionals like Jones, Gibbs, and Wren began to integrate it into their own blueprints.

    Most of those early architects specifically embraced the great Andrea Palladio’s earlier interpretations of Classical architecture, which first manifested at the height of the Italian Renaissance. As such, the first iteration of Georgian-style architecture was known as “Palladianism,” which encouraged proportion and symmetry based on exact mathematical ratios. Palladianism also embraced Palladio’s strict use of Roman-era stylistic themes. But architects across the United Kingdom began to loosen their observance of Palladio’s treatises as the 18th century progressed. Those artisans began to look more directly at the ancient buildings they sought to emulate, giving rise to the more ubiquitous Classic Revival (or “Neoclassical”) architectural style. Their new structures featured additional motifs from ancient Grecian societies, as well as a few from the likes of medieval Europe. Nevertheless, the style remained immensely popular, even spreading across the Atlantic to greatly influence the British Empire’s American and Canadian colonies. In fact, the Americans formed their own unique spinoff of Georgian architecture in the wake of the American Revolutionary War, which they called “Federal” or “Adams” style.

  • Famous Historic Guests +

    Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington and victor of the Battle of Waterloo (1815).

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