The Queen really does have excellent taste, Windsor is one of the most charming small towns in the UK. Famous for Windsor Castle, there’s also a picturesque riverside, great shopping and restaurants. Its compact size makes it a good choice for a weekend break, and I’ve rounded up some recommendations for what to see and do with just 24 hours in Windsor, to help you make the most of your time.
The obvious place to start is Windsor Castle, home to royalty for over 1,000 years and one of The Queen’s main residences. I was in town recently with Accor on a magical mystery tour ending at the Castle Hotel Windsor Mgallery, of which more later. The Castle itself is right in the centre, and looms large over the surrounding buildings, being the largest occupied castle in the world.
As you approach, you’ll notice a statue of Queen Victoria, standing guard in suitably regal fashion. It dates from 1887 and celebrates her Golden Jubilee. Inside the castle, the State Apartments are one of the main attractions. They have some fabulous artworks by Canaletto, Rembrandt and Rubens. It’s not possible to take photos inside the castle, however you are allowed to take pictures of the exterior and the gardens. Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House is my favourite attraction though. Designed for Queen Mary by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1921, it’s an elaborate model with running water and flushing toilets!
The Queen is often in residence at Windsor Castle, and one of my favourite stories about her is of the tourists who didn’t recognize her and asked if she had met The Queen, to which she replied that she hadn’t but that the policeman accompanying her had. Inside the castle, there’s a lovely walled garden.
The Chapel of St George is a must-see if you’re visiting from Monday to Saturday, as on Sundays its closed for worship. It’s a spectacular Gothic building that houses the tombs of Henry VIII, Jane Seymour, his third wife and Charles I. It’s also the chapel of the order of the garter, a historic chivalrous order dating from the Middle Ages. I’d allow at least a couple of hours to visit the castle itself and the Chapel of St George. It’s a good idea to purchase your ticket online beforehand, and an audio guide is included in all ticket prices.
Another highlight of any visit to the castle is the Changing of the Guard, although you don’t actually have to enter in order to view it, as the guards pass along the high street every day at around 10.45 am when the New Guard leave their barracks, accompanied by a band. The Old Guard leave the castle at approximately 11 am.
There are some quaint buildings in the town centre, like this one, known as the Crooked House that dates from 1592. It’s next to the Guildhall, designed by Sir Christopher Wren.
As for the shopping centre, it’s in a Victorian Grade II listed railway station and a good place to browse.
There’s a replica steam locomotive named The Queen in the centre of the station.
From the station, it’s a short walk down the hill to the riverside.
You can admire the swans and ducks in all their splendour here.
I sampled the cuisine at the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill which serves up classic British dishes, made from the finest seasonal ingredients. Located inside the Castle Hotel Windsor Mgallery, it’s a stylish space with golden velvet seating and elegant columns.
Their fruit kebabs and Royal Temptation cocktails are a must!
I’ve also tried the cooking at The Duchess of Cambridge pub on a previous visit, it’s a casual pub that specializes in homemade pies.
There are regular trains from Windsor & Eton Central as well as Windsor & Eton Riverside from London Paddington and Waterloo. If driving, take the M4 to exit 6 or the M3 to exit 3 but bear in mind that there is no parking at the castle itself so you’ll need to park elsewhere in the town centre.
You can’t get more central than Castle Hotel Windsor MGallery, on the high street and a minute’s walk from the castle. This beautiful Georgian building has 108 rooms and some lovely artworks of its own.
I was here as part of the #WeLoveAccorHotels campaign run by, you guessed it, the Accor hotel group! They had invited a select group of influencers to visit some of their most iconic properties including the Hotel Pullman London St Pancras. We knew part of the itinerary but we were invited to guess the location of our final hotel, which turned out to be this lovely place. I really liked the eclectic decor and attention to detail.
Many of the guests pose for a photo in Marco Pierre White’s chair in the lobby, simply known as Marco’s chair.
My bedroom was a good size and had some practical touches like a full-sized ironing board, so rare these days. There was also a safe, mini bar and tea and coffee making facilities and the bathroom was stocked with The White Company toiletries. An added bonus was this beautifully presented welcome fruit and macaron platter.
I relaxed on the comfy bed in my bathrobe, whilst admiring the Royal Warrant decorations. The rooms could do with a touch more colour for my taste but I got a great night’s sleep.
As for breakfast the next day, it was a great end to my stay. I tucked into scrambled eggs and smoked salmon whilst valiantly resisting the tempting baked goods on display ;-). Thanks to Accor for introducing me to such a lovely hotel. As a follow up, I’ve been invited to stay in their Sofitel London St James property, I can’t wait to check it out! Have you ever been to Windsor?
Castle Hotel Windsor Mgallery, 18 High Street, SL4 1LJ WINDSOR