Set on the banks of the River Thames a mere stone’s throw from Windsor and easily accessible from Central London, lies the understated and yet exquisitely-polished Runnymede Hotel.
The lesser-known sibling to The Grove, owned by brothers Daniel and Stuart Levy under the guise of their business the Ralph Trustees, the contemporary four-star hotel bears an obvious resemblance to its Watford counterpart.
But in case you think it might lack refinement and grandeur, it more than makes up for it in its warmth, friendliness and unrivalled location.
Tempted by a new spa package, I set off with my sister in tow for 24 hours of some much-needed rest and relaxation.
The Bee Friendly Spa Package is a steal, starting from just £299 for two people, which includes dinner in AA Rosette holder the Lock restaurant, bed and breakfast, a one-hour honey-based treatment and use of all spa facilities.
The treatment utilises the powerful immune-boosting, anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties of honey – harvested from the hotel’s very own garden hives – to provide a nourishing, rejuvenating and beneficial experience.
Best described as a spa buffet, the hour is spent sampling various therapies, including a foot scrub, back massage and facial, all harnessing the natural powers of honey.
I was not easily won over, but without doubt my skin felt noticeably smoother, my shoulders positively achy (definitely a good thing) and my mind a notch calmer.
Away from the treatment rooms, the spa area provided the perfect place to while away the hours, a dip and an unwind.
Boasting a large indoor pool complete with sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi, the spa also plays host to a well-stocked modern gym, three beautiful tennis courts and a second, stunning, outdoor pool that – when the sun came out – could have rivalled any luxury accommodation abroad.
Our room was clean, bright and well-appointed with a sprawling bathroom complete with my favourite ESPA products. Chocolate-covered honeycomb alongside two cute pots of pure honey were welcome additions.
The unequivocal selling point was the view, where the Thames was visible in all its stunning glory.
As per our package, we dined in the hotel’s a la carte restaurant, The Lock – where guests are invited to try the hotel’s superb buffet breakfast – and were lucky enough to eat in full view of the kitchen.
Spacious and airy, the restaurant oozes a relaxed and vibe, while the presentation and quality of the food was far more sophisticated than its surrounding let on.
We both opted for fish main courses – hake for myself and sea bream for my sister – and both tasted just as wonderful as they looked. The cheesecake is highly recommended to seal the deal for those with a sweet tooth.
With summer in full flow, we decided to work off some of our indulgence by exploring the grounds and surrounding area.
Our favourite discoveries were the hot tub perched on the banks of the river, the two oversized deck chairs and the array of children’s garden toys and play frames – suffice to say that as a mum you never stop considering the offspring wherever your travels take you.
With that in mind, just a ten-minute stroll from the hotel is the sprawling Runnymede Pleasure Grounds, which offers modern play equipment, a paddling pool, café and children’s amusements.
Slightly further afield are Thorpe Park and Legoland while other attractions in the area include the renowned Ascot Racecourse, historic Windsor Castle and one of my personal favourites, Windsor Great Park.
It has more than 4,800 acres to explore and a royal history spanning 1,000 years, with historical monuments, ancient forests and stunning horticultural displays as well as rare wildlife to discover.
Where to stay
Caron was a guest of the Runnymede Hotel and tried out the Bee Friendly Package (£299), which includes full use of all spa facilities, dinner for two in the Lock Bar & Kitchen, overnight accommodation sharing a twin or double room, breakfast for two and one luxury honey-based treatment lasting one hour. A second honey treatment can be booked in addition to the one included in the package, priced at £65. For more details, visit runnymedehotel.com