As travellers, we constantly seek ‘Blue Spaces’ in the shape of the sea, river and ocean. In the UK, you don’t have to search too hard to find somewhere close to water, providing an opportunity to leave the rattle and hum of modern society. We did just that when we headed to The Runnymede on Thames.
I won’t lie, my first impressions of The Runnymede on Thames in upmarket Egham, Surrey was somewhat muted. From the outside, the hotel is a little plain in the looks department, although efforts have been made to improve this with quirky touches at the entrance like fun giant ornamental fruit and huge deck chairs. To be fair, how something looks depends on personal preference and the whims of planning committees and councils. However, my initial impressions quickly changed once I ventured inside.
The décor in the riverside lounge with its floor-to-ceiling windows is retro and is equipped with comfy velvet armchairs and sofas in bold teal and mustard shades, dangling chandeliers as well as a log burner. And as you would expect, it pays homage to the riverside setting, complete with toy ducks on display.
In contrast, the 180-bedrooms is all about clean lines and neutral shades. My deluxe room was spacious, had a super king-sized bed, modern beech furniture with plenty of storage, a view of the river from the window and a Nespresso coffee machine. But I wanted more than just the views. – I wanted to have fun both on and off the river. An invigorating shower with the complimentary ESPA goodies and swift change into comfortable clothes later, and I was ready to head out and explore.
Taking full advantage of being nestled right on the banks of the River Thames, this four-star family-owned hotel boasts its own private jetty from where guests can enjoy some time on the water. Whether you’re a beginner or experienced skipper, there’s plenty of things to explore along the banks downstream. We were thrilled to be asked to head out on a leisurely boat trip that included a stop at the nearby historic Magna Carta site.
We had a detailed tour with Amanda Bryett from Windsor Tourist Guides, who expertly told the story of King John’s sealing of the Magna Carta in 1215. This was a charter to make peace between the King and a group of barons. It’s seen by many as a vital step in achieving what we know as democracy today. You’ll also find the JFK Memorial and the Jurors bronze freedom artwork.
The Writ in Water is the latest addition to the Magna Carta memorials commissioned by the National Trust in association with the art producers Situations. The memorial contains clause 39 of the Magna Carta, the Royal charter of rights. The words inscribed in the structure state, “No free man will be stripped of his rights or imprisoned without lawful judgement”. It is free to visit and offers what I can only describe as a place of tranquillity and contemplation.
Back at The Runnymede on Thames, and we were treated to a fabulous afternoon tea – not that we were hungry having already quaffed some sandwiches, quiches and olives. Still, any extra sweet treat is hard to resist. So we greedily tucked into a towering stand of homemade cakes and scones, delectable finger sandwiches all washed down with plenty of tea.
The Runnymede on Thames is home to a wonderful award-winning relaxing spa, which comes with an indoor exercise pool, whirlpool, marble eucalyptus steam room, infrared and pine saunas and a chill-out zone. There’s also an outdoor pool (summer only), tennis courts, and a large gym for sporty guests. Following a walk around the historical grounds, a much-needed massage was on the cards, and it was a pleasure to take the weight off my feet and much-needed respite.
Leftbank is the main restaurant at The Runnymede on Thames which offers a lovely evening dining experience with the stunning backdrop of the River Thames as day gives way to the night. The a la carte menu features seasonal comforting, modern British dishes to share with family and friends – just what you need after a day of exploring.
New for 2021 is the River Hideout dining experience will allow guests to sample a mouth-watering array of weekly specials, including a barbecue menu, homemade pizzas and Hawaiian poke bowls.
The river is very much the focus here at Runnymede, from the self-drive hire boats and food for feeding the ducks to the riverside terrace (boasting an Airstream Trailer serving cold refreshments and ice cream) to an outdoor cinema.
When outdoors, some guests at The Runnymede on Thames might notice a little ambient noise from the nearby M25. However, once I was inside my room and thanks to some very effective double glazing, I was able to fully relax, unwind and sleep soundly. Researchers do say being near a body of water aids sleep, and after my night at the hotel in what was a super comfortable bed, I can wholeheartedly agree.
The Runnymede On Thames – Where and How?
Nightly rates at The Runnymede on Thames start from £170 for a Double Room on a room only basis. For more information or to make a reservation, please visit www.runnymedehotel.com.
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