The Boatman, Windsor
It's the perfect spot for sun seekers and royal watchers – Windsor's only riverside pub.
Definitely one to bookmark for the warmer months – we’ve got to see a lot more sun soon, right? My legs are starting to scare. The Boatman is Windsor’s only riverside pub, so the perfect spot for a lazy hazy afternoon watching the watery world go by.
The pub is one of the oldest in the royal town and has been part of the waterfront scene since about 1829. It was originally called The King’s Head but locally it’s known as the The Donkey House, as it used to stable the donkeys which worked by the river. It’s very much a traditional pub with lots of old charm but with a rather fabulous sun terrace and a modern conservatory with a retractable roof. Windsor’s answer to Wimbledon’s Centre Court – and a much coveted spot to eat, drink and party.
It’s all about location location location – it’s on an idyllic stretch of the Thames in royal town of Windsor, just 15 minutes from Maidenhead or Ascot, and 30 minutes from London. It tends to attract an older crowd although is busy with local families and tourists lunching on the weekend, it’s a popular wedding and party venue. As I said, the river location is not to be sniffed at. People will sell their granny for a view like this one.
I wish I could tell you we visited on a balmy summer evening and lounged on the outside terrace, watching the boats meander by… but actually it was dreary, dank and drizzly, so we headed straight to the bar to plonk ourselves by down. It was pretty quiet on our visit, a family group, a few couples lunching and the odd business diner in attendance but I know from experience that on sunny weekends it’s a buzzier spot.
The decor is nautical but nice (fnar), with a maritime vibe suited to a retired sea captain. Chandeliers, painted wood panelling and lots of sea travel knick knacks. Oars above the bar, port hole shaped convex mirrors, nets and ropes. Overdo it and there’s a danger of looking like a theme pub, but I think it actually sits quite well here. Whereas the dining room is traditional, the bar area has a cooler vibe painted in teal and yellow with exposed stone and battered old furniture. I loved it.
SCOFF & QUAFF
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Royal Wedding watchers, big groups, lunch with the girls, informal date nights, casual family lunches and after worky drinks. So pretty much everyone.
Not for: If you want a river view, you have to book ahead. People will arm wrestle for those tables and it could get ugly. Make a reservation or leave with the hump. When it’s busy it’s lively and a little on the noisy side.
££: Reasonable for this touristy town. Starters from £6.95. My prawn dish is £7.95, mains start at £12.95 and go up £32.95 for an 180z T Bone steak. There’s designated kids’ menu, featuring faves burger and chips, chicken goujons and pasta for £6.95 each.
The Boatman, 10 Thames Side, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 1QN Tel: 01753 620010