If you’re looking for a fun getaway close to London, then you’re sure to enjoy The Runnymede on Thames. This riverside hotel has lots of unique touches like the UK’s only hottug, that we were recently invited to experience. Located near Windsor, it’s handy for sightseeing and very convenient for Heathrow too.
Arriving at the hotel, we were immediately struck by the quirky over-sized deckchairs outside. I felt like Alice in Wonderland.
The unique design continues inside, with stylish lighting and great use of natural materials…There were quite a few people checking in but the reception staff were polite and friendly. There’s a bar within the reception area overlooking the river.
My favourite feature of the lobby has to be this collection of rubber ducks ;-). Guests can purchase any that they like online and there’s certainly a great selection. The duck is actually the hotel’s emblem and really symbolizes the fun of the place.
Our spacious deluxe double bedroom was lovely and light, with all mod cons. There was a flat-screen TV, air-conditioning, an iron and ironing board, a safe, complimentary WiFi and tea and coffee-making facilities. Black-out curtains were a great idea, although the feather pillows and Hypnos bed ensured that we slept soundly. We have one of these at home, they’re so comfy.
There was a spectacular view towards the river and the hotel’s private jetty relaxation area from our bedroom and large balcony.
We also liked the stylish seats and lighting.
The bathroom was well stocked with ESPA toiletries, bath robes and slippers.
I had an appointment booked at the spa, which is accessible from the hotel itself and beautifully designed. They’re continually improving the hotel and were renovating the changing rooms when we visited, so my bronzing treatment took place in a converted hotel bedroom. It was actually pretty convenient as there was a bathroom attached to it. Many of the spa treatment rooms also have an en-suite shower room. My therapist was a charming local lady who started with a complete body exfoliation. This ensures that the tan is even with no patches. The salt scrub left my skin feeling really soft. She then applied the self-tanning cream from top to toe using a mitt. It’s advisable not to expose the body to chlorine for a good few hours afterwards so I skipped the spa’s indoor pool but we did have a workout in the well-equipped gym. We both loved the adjacent decked outdoor area.
There’s also an outdoor swimming pool with a children’s play area and plenty of sun loungers.
I loved the quirkiness of these rubber ducks!
There are several tennis courts and also a children’s play area. Although the hotel is great for kids and also for corporates with a large selection of meeting rooms, the grounds are so spacious that all guests can enjoy peace and quiet here. Oh, and there are giant board games by the river – Connect4 and Jenga!
The Runnymede has its own private mooring and several boats – a luxurious Olympic Class launch which would be perfect for groups and comes with a skipper, plus self-skippered electric family riverboats.
However their most unique boat is the UK’s only hottug. Created by Dutch designer Frank de Bruijn, it floats low in the water, making you truly at one with the Thames. There’s a private changing area with bathrobes and slippers which you leave at the water’s edge before embarking into the hottug.
We’d armed ourselves with some bubbly and luxuriated in the 38°C water heated by a wood-burning stove. You can fit up to six merrymakers inside the hottug and its self-skippered so we were given a briefing on how to operate it. Soon we were heading up the Thames, to the bemusement of passers by and these swans! It’s available for hire from May until mid September and is exclusively for hire by hotel residents on weekends and bank holidays. It’s definitely one of the most fun experiences that I’ve had this year.
AROUND THE HOTEL
Bell Weir Lock is right next to the hotel and it’s interesting to watch the boats passing through.
I could sit here for hours!
There’s also a mural commemorating the signing of the Magna Carta, the famous charter for democracy.
The actual site of Magna Carta is a pleasant walk from the hotel and I’ll be writing about it in an upcoming post.
There’s an attractive riverside terrace running the length of the hotel, with a separate bar area, and two restaurants. Leftbank is a casual place with an excellent buffet, whilst our dinner choice, The Lock is equally relaxed yet definitely has a sense of occasion.
We started with a glass of wine accompanied by some tasty homemade bread with a fruity olive oil.
My starter was a beautiful dish of seared scallops with pea puree and sea purslane. This seasonal vegetable works a treat with seafood and my scallops were very flavoursome.
Paul’s dish of stuffed calamari with chorizo and red pepper sauce is a must-try. The spicy chorizo balanced the calamari perfectly.
My main course was a delicate supreme of hake with clams in a Provencale sauce.
Paul loved his Hogs Back Ale glazed beef short rib with colourful homemade slaw and spiced potato wedges. I snuck a bite of it and was very impressed too.
For dessert, Paul chose a naughty but nice Rocky Road sundae in keeping with the fun theme of our stay.
I opted for the three layered chocolate mousse and found the honeycomb on the side to be a great idea, you can add as little or as much as you like. The attention to detail throughout our meal was fantastic – just look at the Lock logo on our coffee!
After a great night’s sleep, we headed down to breakfast in Leftbank. There was an excellent selection of buffet food including smoked salmon, cereals, fresh fruit and pastries. I’d just add some tomatoes and salad leaves for those who are on a quasi-health kick like me. My omelette was delicious and Paul also enjoyed his full English breakfast. As you can see, we got a nice tan on the hottug.
If only all hotel stays could be as fun as The Runnymede on Thames, the world would be a better place. They have three sister properties, the classy Athenaeum Hotel and 23 Greengarden House serviced apartments in London, as well as The Grove, a country estate in Hertfordshire – makes me want to visit them all!
The Runnymede-on-Thames, Windsor Road, Egham, Surrey TW20 0AG