London life can sometimes get a little hectic, so where better to recharging and unwind than at a country retreat just 40 minutes away from the city?
The Runnymede-on-Thames is a delightful 4 star hotel in leafy Egham, Surrey, perched on the tranquil banks of the River Thames. It’s the sister hotel of The Grove in Hertfordshire and Piccadilly’s The Athenaeum, however The Runnymede has its own down-to-earth identity.
We visited for a weekend of relaxation, fresh air and indulgent dining. After arriving by train from Waterloo to Egham Station, it was a pleasant stroll through the town centre to the hotel. Of course, if you have heavy luggage or arrive in the evening, a taxi ride to the front door will take just 5 minutes.
The hotel overlooks the picturesque river and lush green fields to the back. Not only is the Runnymede area full of breathtaking scenery, it also has historical significance as the home of the Magna Carta, issued by King John in 1215.
The open-plan lobby was a hub of activity when we visited, with guests enjoying afternoon tea in the lounge and lunch in the Leftbank Restaurant, which serves a bountiful 3-course buffet for each meal.
The Runnymede’s duck emblem can be spotted throughout the hotel with a number of colourful birds in the lobby – a fun touch for families.
Our Deluxe Double room on the first floor was very spacious with excellent views of the river. It’s designed in a comfortable, homely style with a soft, warm colour palette and highlights of royal blue.
Room features include an interactive flatscreen TV, executive writing desk, comfy seating area, king-size bed, large wardrobe and free wifi. A thoughtful touch is the complimentary tea and coffee facilities with adorable duck mugs and biscuits, which were replenished at turndown.
We were also kindly welcomed with a handwritten note and a trio of gourmet chocolate bars tied with yellow ribbon.
We found the king-size bed ever so plush and comfortable, with high thread-count linen, plenty of pillows and a feather mattress topper. The quiet location and heavenly bed made for an excellent night’s sleep.
The white and blue tiled bathroom is a good size and features a shower and bath with excellent water pressure, a single sink, comfy waffle bathrobes and a full set of ESPA bergamot, jasmine and cedarwood bathroom products
The spa at The Runnymede is truly impressive and worth setting aside a few hours to enjoy. Guests can indulge in a relaxing ESPA, Guinot or Jessica treatment, or push the boat out with a bespoke spa day.
The highlight of the spa is the large swimming pool with slow and fast lanes, along with the shallow children’s pool and heavenly jacuzzi. It can be personal annoyance when hotels don’t heat their swimming pool to the right degree, but the spa pools were at the perfect temperature for comfortable swimming.
We also loved the spacious sauna and eucalyptus steam room, which were both powerful and well-maintained. There’s even a leather massage chair in the changing rooms to make the relaxation go that little bit further.
The high-tech gym is very well-equipped and in the summer months you can make the most of the good weather at the outdoor swimming pool and tennis courts.
Before heading back to our room, we spent a little time in The Garden Room, an elegant relaxation room with a sun terrace and complimentary tea, coffee and fresh juices.
Beyond the spa and dining, there are plenty of outdoor activities on the doorstep. Fun ways to experience the river are an elegant afternoon tea onboard the hotel’s riverboat, or a decadent HotTug ride (a large wood-fired floating hot tub). You can also walk through the orchard and see the beehives or play giant Jenga or croquet.
In the evening, we dined at the hotel’s main restaurant, The Lock Bar & Kitchen. The restaurant has a cosy, contemporary feel with leather banquettes, open kitchen and glass doors leading out to the terrace.
We began the meal with some fantastic cocktails – I chose a Black & Blue (Bombay Sapphire, fresh blackberries and apple juice) and Steven went for a classic Maitai (Havana Club rum, Captain Morgan dark rum, Amaretto and lime juice). While perusing the menu, we grazed on three different kinds of home-baked bread with high quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
I started with Black pudding croquettes with a poached egg and crispy bacon. The croquettes were rich and punchy and went well with the perfectly-cooked egg and lightly dressed leaves.
Steven’s Chicken and leek terrine was packed full of tender meat and slightly sweet leeks, seasoned with a light grain mustard vinaigrette. It was served simply with a slice of charred sourdough, radishes and cornichons.
I balanced the richness of the starter with a light and tasty Chargrilled chicken with olive oil mash. The chicken breast was succulent and satisfying while the olive oil mash was silky, fragrant and buttery. I loved the addition of steam savoy cabbage, edamame and a rich jus.
Steven’s Smoky beef short rib with Lock slaw and spiced potato wedges was quite a monster. The enormous slow-cooked ribs were flaky and juicy, liberally marinated in a dark, sticky glaze. The accompaniments were also tasty, but it was all about the ribs. I would’ve struggled to finish such an extravagant dish but was pleased to pinch a mouthful, or five.
Of course, we couldn’t resist finishing the evening on a sweet note. My Sticky chocolate slice with warm chocolate sauce almost sent me into chocolate delirium. The cake was deliciously moist and gooey, surrounded by molten liquid chocolate and finished with a dollop of milk chocolate cream for good measure.
Steven went for the Crumble of the day, which was pear and peach, served with a jug of fresh vanilla custard. The fruit was nicely stewed while the crumble was just as it should be – golden, crunchy and moreish.
After such an indulgent meal, it was a real luxury to roll back up to our room and enjoy a blissful Saturday night feeling relaxed and full.
Breakfast at The Runnymede is an indulgent, leisurely affair with a fabulous hot and continental buffet in the The Leftbank Restaurant. The hot selection is excellent and high quality with everything you need for a proper Full English, including fat sausages, home-made hash browns and eggs cooked to order.
There’s also a generous selection of mini pastries, muffins, cured meats, smoked salmon, cheeses, cereal, yoghurt and fresh fruits, smoothies and honeycomb courtesy of the Runnymede bees.
The Runnymede-on-Thames is a fantastic, family-orientated hotel with impressive facilities and plenty to do in the area. The staff were remarkably warm and friendly and the atmosphere was relaxed and unpretentious. It’s the perfect spot for a low-key, rejuvenating weekend break.
Weekend stays at The Runnymede-on-Thames from £169 per room per night based on two sharing a standard double on a B&B basis. For more information and booking, visit: www.runnymedehotel.com
Chérie City was a guest of The Runnymede on Thames
Photos by Chérie City and The Runnymede on Thames