Romance Wanderlust: Oakley Court

Romance Wanderlust - a yellowed and burnt edge map with a compass in the corner, with Romance Wanderlust written across itThis month’s Romance Wanderlust goes out to all of you 1980’s teens who went out late at night and threw things at a movie screen. The castle from The Rocky Horror Picture Show is now a luxury hotel. It probably doesn’t have phone though because, as everyone who went to the movie knows, castles don’t have phones.

In case anyone missed it, The Rocky Horror Picture Show (RHPS) is a movie from 1975 starring Tim Curry and Susan Sarandon, among others. By the 1980s it was a beloved cult movie and teens such as myself would go see cheap midnight showings at which some people would dress up and perform the movie in front of the screen and the audience would scream various responses to the lines being spoken or sung (it’s a musical). I feel completely unequipped to judge the movie in any kind of rational way by the (much improved) standards of today but I can tell you that it’s problematic as hell. Still, for many of us at the time, RHPS was a positive, liberating, coming-of-age experience and the thought of staying at the castle (CASTLES STILL DON’T HAVE PHONES) makes me a little woozy.

Most of the cast of the movie from the end of Sweet Transvestite including Tim Curry in excellent thigh highs and a bustier
Most of the cast of the movie.

Oakley Court describes itself as “The Quintessential Country House” which suggests that either all the RHPS props are gone or else England is a stranger place than I thought. It’s a Victorian Era country house in Berkshire on the banks of the Thames. As you can see from all the crenellations, it’s superduper gothic, which is why it was also the set of many Hammer Horror films including The Brides of Dracula.

Note to self – pack gauzy white nightie.

exterior of Oakley Court with crenellations, stone inset windows and lots of gothic flair

When Susan Sarandon was in RHPS, Oakley Court was in such bad shape that she got pneumonia (she spends almost the whole movie in her underwear). I’m pleased to report that the building is all fixed up now so you can wander around in your underwear all you want, hardy harrr harrr. The rooms look spacious and lovely and include lab coats bathrobes. The mansion suites are the ones that are part of the original structure and have views of the river.

Brides of Dracula - ferocious fanged women and cobwebs.
A scene from Brides of Dracula, set at Oakley Court. I’m told that since then the management has cleaned the rooms.

It’s all very wholesome and romantic but I must point out that in addition to these wholesome features there exists an ULTIMATE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW EXPERIENCE. This experience “includes dinner.” We can only hope that it’s not Meatloaf again. Also there’s an annual Time Warp Picnic featuring a screening of the film inside the castle. Interstellar travel not included.

For less R-Rated entertainment try afternoon tea while floating down the Thames as part of the Live and Unwind Festival. Other special events include fun Christmas treats and onsite dining and tea. Dogs and kids are allowed and the hotel seems to work hard at being a fun destination for adults and kids with river activities, extensive grounds, biking, and a floor show.

The library! Very solemn - dark oak and leather and cushy chairs and lots of books of course
Oooh! Library Alert!

As is always the case, this is neither a review nor an endorsement of the location. I haven’t been there – I’m just Googling, pensively, as my cats express their disapproval by stealing my luggage.

If you’ve been to Oakley Court, let us know! Tell us about it, Janet!

This scene from RHPS selected for the views of Oakley Court and the almost unique lack of any imagery that might get me into trouble.

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