Cruising down the Thames in Surrey in our private Olympic Class launch with champagne, afternoon tea and a skipper at the helm, watching the weeping willows, birds and life of the river going by. It is an ideal way to spend a sunny afternoon and make the most of, what will hopefully be, an Indian summer. We felt very privileged as we were ushered onto the luxurious Olympic Class launch, which was designed and built to transfer VIPs during the London Olympics.
As we sat back and watched the world go by as the sun warmed us to our bones we sipped at champagne and enjoyed a nautically inspired afternoon tea. Served with perfectly crumbly scones with lashings of cream and strawberry jam, the obligatory salmon, cucumber, egg and ham sandwiches, Captain’s Chocolate Cupcakes, Tropical Treasure Tartlet, Strawberry Life Buoy, and irresistible Batten-down the hatches-Burg cake, I felt like I was in a time gone by or part on an Enid Blyton novel! If you are brave you could also take a cruise in the Runnymede’s HotTug – a woodfired boat-cum-hot-tub, the first of its kind in the UK!
To be honest, the Runnymede does not look like much as you pull up, it could easily be an office building or private hospital but don’t let this put you off, what they have done inside and with the grounds will take you away from the stresses and strains of the daily grind. Set on the banks of the Thames, just downstream from Windsor and close to where the Magna Carta was signed it is an ideal quick escape from London or being so close to Heathrow, perfect to get your holiday started a day early. The duck theme that runs throughout the hotel is quirky and fun while remaining on the right side of kitsch – we were tempted to buy one of their wooden ducks in gum boots as well as their cute duck-bill mugs.
With the good summer weather we have had there was no better place to be but lazing by the outdoor pool, catching some rays. This little oasis has a tropical feel with sun-loungers, umbrellas and even a kiddie pool to keep young ones interested. In fact it is an ideal family hotel with a large dedicated kids playground and tennis courts to keep everyone busy outdoors.
If you are here to unwind and pamper yourself, relax in the The Runnymede spa. Lolling about in the pool, steam room and sauna rejuvenates your mind and the well-equipped large gym and studio that provides a plethora of classes will have your body revitalised in no time. For that added ‘me’ time book a treatment to real spoil yourself.
With the sun still shining and the weather mild we decided that the only place to be was beside the river for our evening meal. The Lock Restaurant and Bar offered tables on the terrace overlooking Bell Weir Lock and was the perfect way to end our water-filled day. The Severn and Wye smoked salmon I had as a starter was subtle and soft and melted in the mouth and while the prawn, crab and papaya that my travelling companion had was delicious, it was a little on the wrong side of kitsch baring a strong resemblance to the 70s prawn cocktail. The grilled Surrey Farm rib-eye steak that I had for main course had the right amount of marbling to ensure that my knife slid through it and was cooked beautifully, while my companion’s whole sea bass was delicate and fresh. For dessert I indulged in the crumble of the day, apple and raspberry while my fellow diner had the extraordinary Pimms jelly with blood orange sorbet, a delicate yet surprising dessert.
There is nothing like waking in the morning and pulling back the curtains to reveal the sparkling water of the Thames, willows dipping their branches daintily into the flow of the stream. We once again sat outside to enjoy the bountiful buffet breakfast at The Leftbank restaurant.
The Runnymede-on-Thames is a fabulous place to restore the soul surrounded by water and is just a stones throw from London and Heathrow airport, the perfect location for a quick getaway.
‘On the river and by the river’ offer at the Runnymede-on-Thames includes an overnight stay for two inclusive of breakfast, a one hour self-drive boat trip, nautical afternoon tea (with champagne) and full use of the award-winning spa. Prices start at £225 per couple inclusive of VAT and service (rates vary depending on room type). It is available subject to availability Monday – Sunday, 24 July – 31 August 2014 and then weekends only from 1 – 28 September 2014.