Stay here: The Castle Hotel, Windsor
And so it came to pass that the mudlets were gently but firmly pushed into the loving arms of their doting Auntie while Mr Muddy B and I hopped into the car and floored it. Yes, we had escaped to Windsor for 24 hours… no kids to harrass us, nothing to do but browse in shops (yes, browse!! Remember that?), knock back a few drinky-poos at 4pm just because we could, and read the papers – all of them, at leisure – in bed at The Castle Hotel where we stayed.
I’d totally recommend the hotel as a romantic bolt-hole. It’s literally opposite the castle (the clue is in the name people); has a cool bar with a great cocktail list; plus a brand new buzzy Marco Pierre White restaurant (we didn’t eat there this time because I’d already reviewed it earlier in the year, but it’s a great addition to the hotel) and attractive rooms (smart but still cosy decor, really comfy bed, big flat screen TV and fab shower) and at a fair price too – from £150 for a classic room, including breakfast.
The hotel had a makeover at the end of last year and although it’s quite big (108 rooms) it definitely felt more boutiquey because the restaurant, bar and reception areas are all pretty much at the front of the hotel and the new decor is stylish and low-key. Modern and comfortable, but not overly grand. I was particularly impressed with the staff too – everyone I encountered was warm and friendly, it was all very relaxed, which is what you want when you just want to flop on the sofa with a pot of tea and the Sunday supplements.
Breakfast was included and it was ‘the works’ – cereals, fruit, yogurts, all kinds of breads and pastries, eggs, bacon, sausage… you can have it all (and I did). It was all beautifully presented and darn tasty. I tend to judge a breakfast on the quality of the sausages, and these were fat, meaty and herby. Phew. Passed the taste test, and believe me, my sausage standards are high.
Another winner is the fact you can park at the hotel – it’s £15 overnight, well worth it for ease-ability and you’re unlikely to find overnight parking any cheaper in the centre of town (and certainly not 15 strides from your bed). If you’re coming by train, the hotel is just a few hundred yards from Windsor & Eton station.
And finally, massive brownie points scored as it’s one of the few hotels that offers FREE WI-FI throughout the hotel (bedrooms included) so you can FB all your friends to tell them what a fab time you’re having and oh what a shame they are standing watching their children on a wet and windy rugby pitch somewhere very far removed from Egyptian cotton sheets and piping hot delicious coffee.
You might not immediately think of Windsor for a romantic weekend. It’s obviously a bit touristy (apart from all the I HEART WINDSOR tat, does anyone but a Japanese tourist shop in Barbour anymore?) but if you avoid the obvious, there are plenty of little indie shops and cafés to explore.
It is a beautiful town and it does feel very special with the castle right there whenever you gaze up. You can catch a show at the Theatre Royal, stroll along the Thames path or Windsor Great Park, have a nose around Eton College… sometimes doing the touristy stuff is really fun. When you live so close to something it is easy to take it for granted.
So if you fancy a right royal weekend break in Windsor, I can’t recommend The Castle enough (no, not that Castle) and I have no doubt you’ll end up coming home as happy and relaxed as this little fella who greeted me at breakfast.
Castle Hotel Windsor, 18 High St, windsor SL4 1LJ.