Getting out of London for a night has be one of my favourite pastimes; for those days when you need a little break, a time out from real life, but the time constraints and budget won’t quite stretch to a proper mini break in a far flung city. Luckily, there’s a raft of rather delightful spa hotels a mere stone’s throw from the capital that are begging for a post-work sojourn on a Friday evening.
The Runnymede on Thames in Egham is exactly that. Leaving work at 5.30pm on a Friday, we were crossing the hotel’s threshold by 6.45pm, ready for a night of rest and relaxation. Situated on the bank of the river and just a short taxi ride from Egham station, it’s an ideal getaway for a night away from London. With rooms overlooking the river, a spa and fitness room and two restaurants on site, it’s no wonder we found it buzzing with guests upon arrival.
Rooms vary from singles for the solo traveller to doubles overlooking the river, family suites and even dog-friendly rooms for those travelling with a faithful companion. Checking in to ours, I instantly eyed up the ESPA toiletries in the bathroom, ready for my post-prandial soak, along with a bottle of prosecco chilling in the minibar, part of the hotel’s current 'Fizz & Films' package, offering couples a bed and breakfast stay with unlimited films, a bottle of fizz and popcorn from £160 for two. Nevertheless, having leapt on a train straight from work dinner called…
The hotel has two restaurants; The Lock Bar and kitchen is the a la carte offering, boasting a 2018 AA Rosettes award for culinary excellence with a menu of hearty, home-style cooking and a regularly changing menu. The Leftbank restaurant however, our dinner location, may well be the best buffet I’ve ever encountered. Completely spoilt for choice, we absolutely gorged on a smorgasbord of delicious fresh salads and nibbles to start, from lentil, butternut and goats cheese to devilled eggs, before helping ourselves to a selection of fresh fish, calamari and mussels, which the chef cooked up before our eyes in a creamy white wine sauce. With an array of sides to accompany, guests can choose from a plethora of dishes from the theatre kitchen, from sizzling roasts with all the trimming, pasta and sauces cooked to order and stone baked rustic dough with delicious cheesy toppings. The range of food on offer was something else. Puddings must not be overlooked; given we visited on Burns’ Night I very much enjoyed the Cranachan … though the individual strawberry cheesecakes were rather delightful. And the meringues, and for that matter the chocolate brownies… OK, so it was all delicious! The danger with a buffet however is one’s tendency to overeat, so perhaps be mindful when dining that you WILL want it all so probably best to stick with small quantities.
A pre-breakfast swim was just the ticket prior to another gorge at the buffet; fresh fruit with coulis and homemade compotes, a cereal and yoghurt bar, homemade Bircher and granola, a continental spread featuring ham, mortadella and smoked salmon, cheese, pastries and a full English buffet to pick and choose from… needless to say breakfast is another hefty affair, made all the sweeter by the addition of comb honey from their very own resident bees.
With the spa open until 10pm the temptation of a post-dinner session proved too much to resist; after all, is there anything better for the digestion than a jacuzzi? Resplendent with the addition of a steam room, dry and infra saunas and pool, it’s the perfect place to while away an evening. Sauna, swim, steam, repeat is my new mantra in life.
The spa’s treatment many encompasses a whole manner of massages, facials, body wraps and more, with a number of spa day experience packages available. They’ve even earmarked particular treatments for younger guests, a great option to those who might want to treat their teens. Should it strike your fancy the gym and studio classes are also available… though admittedly I didn’t feel the need to break my relaxation with a workout. Come the summer months there’s an outdoor pool available, while guests can also indulge in the riverside hot tub, though the thought of being exposed to all and sundry jogging along the public towpath doesn’t particularly fill me with joy.
Although our January sojourn wasn’t quite the right timing for it, guests can also enjoy messing about on the river in one of the hotel’s boats, with a number of staff licensed to skipper you up and downriver from their private mooring, something it’s certainly worth keeping in mind for the summer months.
The only criticism I had of our stay was the somewhat dubious array off films on offer; for a film package the choice was disappointing, with absolutely zero chick flicks or rom coms (yes I was on a girls’ minibreak…) and more *ahem* adult films than actual entertaining choices we wanted to watch, though given we were so stuffed from supper and drowsy post-bubble bath it wasn’t the end of the world.
For a deliciously relaxing night away less than an hour from London, The Runnymede on Thames is certainly one to add to your little black book.
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