EGHAM, England — It’s a splurge to stay at Great Fosters, an Elizabethan manor with Tudor roots, but anyone is welcome to enjoy the hotel’s magical and masterful 50-acre formal gardens and parklands. The 16th-century Windsor Forest estate probably was built as a hunting lodge for Henry VIII and also used by his daughter Elizabeth I. The gardens were designed by architect W. H. Romaine-Walker and partner Gilbert Jenkins in 1918 and restored and enhanced by landscape architect Kim Wilkie beginning in 1990.
Begin in the Arts and Crafts-style knot garden, bordered by a sixth-century Saxon moat on three sides, accented with meticulously manicured topiary, and centered on a Drake sundial, allegedly donated by Sir Francis himself. Cross the wisteria-adorned Japanese bridge and descend into the deliciously scented sunken rose garden, encircled by a rose and clematis pergola. Then mosey around the surrounding lawns and woodlands, the secret gardens, serpentine yew hedges, ponds, and a grassy amphitheater at the end of an avenue of lime trees. Keep an eye out for the heritage pigs and the beehives.
Pair your visit with afternoon tea or a glass of champagne, savored on the terrace overlooking the gardens or perhaps in the Anne Boleyn Room, under its crest-embossed ceiling. Reservations are essential for lunch, tea, dinner, or lodging.
GREAT FOSTERS Stroude Road, Egham, Surrey, England. 011-44-1784-433822, www.greatfosters.co.uk