Written by larapiegeler
Two Days of Messing about on the River...
Images of the world famous Royal Regatta, which takes place at Henley-on-Thames every summer, may be the first that spring to mind at the mention of this quaint, tidy, picturesque town. However, though this unique, spirited event dates back to the early Victorian era, Henley’s royal connections stretch back much further – to the 12th century, in fact – and evidence of the area’s illustrious history is delightfully displayed in the traditional market, Tudor houses and pretty countryside surrounding a singularly straight section of river.
On arrival, check into the Hotel du Vin; it’s one of their best, set in an old Georgian brewery, with a courtyard restaurant that has a sparkling but intimate feel on Summer nights, and warmly-styled rooms in neutral colours, each with an indulgent rain shower big enough to have a party under.
Spend a day browsing antique shops and boutiques and have a picnic lunch by the water (- you’re sure to find something to add to it at the deli on Duke Street). The hotel even has its own ‘bateau du vin’, which you can book in advance and climb aboard to discover pre-packed hampers full of Pimms and finger food. Heaven on a warm evening…
For those with a smaller budget, a very civilised boat trip along the regatta reach in the morning will take you past the Leander Rowing Club (founded in 1818, with a perhaps unexpected pink hippopotamus as a mascot), the houses of various celebrities and of course views of the Chiltern Hills, and if you fancy venturing a little further up river, it’s possible to go as far as Marlow, which has its own Saturday market, pretty buildings and great boutique shopping, as Henley does. Don’t miss the Hare and Hounds on the Henley Road for lunch – modern, hearty English food (fresh, seasonal and local) in a ‘white tablecloth’ setting.
Departed from: London By Train
Duration: 1.5 days
Network Away Break from London to Henley on First Great Western: £21.40
Two nights’ B&B and dinner at Hotel du Vin: £270
Return boat trip to Marlow: £10
Picnic lunch: £15
Lunch at the Hare & Hounds: £30
TOTAL: £346.40 (All costs are given per person, based on two sharing.)