Staring at the sat-nav, I look up just in time to spot a giant yellow duck adorning a bright purple sign. Having familiarized myself before with the hotel site, I frantically signal for Mr Biscuit to turn in, as it is clear we have reached our destination.
The Runnymede-on-Thames is a tremendously well located hotel and spa, on the banks of the river in Egham, Surrey. Upon arrival in the complimentary car-park, we are immediately greeted by style and design, with extensive sculptures in the grounds. This is inherently a theme that we found extended to the inside, much to our delight.
Check-in is flawless. The staff have an easy grace, and friendly demeanor that is sometimes lacking in luxury hotels, and the entrance’s modern décor, alternates between classic and whimsical in a pleasing fashion.
A pyramid of ducks line the decline of a staircase. Business people discuss work over frothy cappuccinos in the lounge, and families are bustling out of the door to go on their adventures. A casual wonder around the venue reveals an almost ‘mini-resort’ like feel. Areas are carefully designed around ease of use. Both the spa and hospitality areas boast their own entrances, so that health-club members, or wedding goers are separated from the check ins and outs.
There are also an impressive three areas in which to dine, not to mention 24hr room service. The lounge area, aforementioned, is adjacent to the arrival desk. It is comfortable and relaxed, offering light bites and hot drinks for both staying guests and visitors.
The Leftbank is their informal yet stylized buffet style restaurant experience. It has great views, great seating, and a warm contemporary feel. High quality food is available as a wide variety of options, all for a respectable price for the area. Large groups can gather around expansive tables, and a quaint mix up of chairs emphasize the eclectic look. In comparison, the Lock Bar and Kitchen, is the formal dining offering, of which we promptly booked into for later that evening, and which we will detail later.
Our room is defined as a deluxe double, and fortunate enough to have a wonderful riverside view. It features a lovely seating area, all amenities you could need, and a modern bathroom complete with Espa toiletries. Our fave!
It was so difficult to know why the hotel is only 4* with its exceptional attention to detail, that we had to ask someone why. Apparently 5* has specific bedroom sizes to adhere to, as whilst to us guests they seem more than adequate, they are just not spacious enough. Thus, it’s almost their unique selling point that they endeavor to be the most luxurious 4* property around.
Wandering down to the spa, it’s easy to see that in summer, the venue’s amenities lends itself to some great outdoor wining, dining, and relaxing. There is even the most original way to travel on a river that we’ve ever seen- the famous hot-tug- a sailing jacuzzi that you can book to float around the calm water of the Thames. The spectacular view, being right on the river brings an element of calm and countryside to what is otherwise, a place very near lots of busy city-like things. Indeed, near the entrance is a vast wall mural of the local area’s attractions. These range from cultural castle delights, to adrenaline packed theme parks, and all the golf and garden walks you can muster in between. For a bit of pre-stay organization, the interactive things-to-do map on the site is most comprehensive.
The spa has a lovely waiting area, lots of Espa products on display, and great wide windowed doors leading to aspects such as the gym, café, and poolside.
Guests sit sipping fruit infused water in their robes, members wander in grabbing newpapers and magazines, and the gentle hum of a nearby Jacuzzi is actually quite soothing. We are given our respective robes and slippers, and use the changing room lockers to conveniently put away our things. Having both being booked in for the Runnymede’s ‘Winter Warmer’ package, we discover that this heavenly option gives you not only access to the spa facilities, a light lunch complete with bubbly, a back, neck, and shoulder massage, but also a 40-min facial! What an absolute treat! In our individual rooms, we discuss options over scents and oil preferences, and sink away into the comfort of being pampered.
The beauty therapists are really friendly and accommodating, with Mr Biscuit opting for a more intense almost sport-style massage, and myself choosing a tension-relieving pressure. Any knots and niggles were expertly treated, and I was already on my way to the land of nod when soon I realized I was being urged to actually turn around for the facial. Extensive in cleansing, and soothing with masks, an array of products promptly leaves you fresh and glowing- even for bearded Mr Biscuit- alongside totally wild where hair has been nourished (and disheveled) with a deliciously scented macadamia oil. Despite my best attempt at totally falling asleep, I wander back to the lobby to meet my equally blissful husband, and we find the café together, still robed, and still perfectly comfortable.
A charming waitress comes to our assistance when we struggle ridiculously with the complementary hot-drink machine. She sets the world of hot-chocolate goodness right, and gives us a seat and a menu. The lunch included in our package is a single course option, amongst several choices and daily specials, and a glass of fizz if you so wish. I opt for the quiche and salad of the day, and Mr Biscuit relishes the thought of a good ol’ chicken sandwich. The room starts to fill up with the hustle and bustle of a busy lunch-hour, and where the order was delayed, we were consistently kept in the loop, and offered a second glass of bubbly, which more than certainly made up for it.
Refreshed and rejuvenated, the poolside is our next area of choice. It boasts a Jacuzzi, sauna, and steam room, alongside a decent sized pool and adequate lounging areas. We spend the next couple of hours entertaining ourselves in this peaceful atmosphere, contemplating the joys of belonging to a spa such as this as a permanent member, and every now and then having a chat with the equally impressed other guests. Quite frankly, we come to the conclusion that it might be worth a x2 hr daily commute, just to simply have the luxury of well maintained, clean, and exceptionally managed leisure facility. Showering in the changing rooms, we were particularly thrilled to find high quality, powerful showers with no lack of hot-water. Something very missing from many establishments.
Checking our reservation for dinner that night at reception, we are told that we are more than welcome to come down early, and enjoy the ambiance of the adjacent bar, something that seems very interesting indeed. We use the few hours break we have to wind down (even more), enjoying the view from our room, having some tea, and getting ready for the evening.
The Lock Bar and Kitchen is a lovely area that lends itself to couples seeking a date night, family celebrations, and special occasions. You can dress up, or go smart casual and everything would feel comfortable. We recline in the elegant armchairs of the bar and peruse the cocktail menu. Nibbles are brought over, and we chat and scan magazines while we sip our frothy, delicious drinks. It is a mere few yards to wander when we are ready for our table, finding ourselves in a great spot looking out towards the window, but cosy too on a padded bench.
It seems to be a good mix of guests and local visitors, which is encouraging, as it clearly is considered to be a ‘place to be’ whether you are staying or not. The menu is a mixture of hearty wholesome meals, with added originality. An almost more stylized, fancy gastro-pub style. Mr Biscuit started his dinner with a starter of Hogsback Tea Rarebit, which was well presented, and clearly made with a fine quality cheese. Whereas I tried the waitresses recommendation of the beef tortellini and smoked garlic cream- delish!! The staff were the perfect mix of attentive yet non-intrusive, and even suggested the best wine to compliment our tastes, asking our preferences and referring to the menu.
Our mains of slow cooked lamb with parsley mash, and Surrey Farm Steak and Chips, were amazing, very tasty, and expertly seasoned. The only downside being Mr Biscuits side order was not what he expected, as the tomatoes and shallots were not grilled or sautéed, but more of a cold side salad- which in itself is absolutely lovely, but just different to what he wished for. None the less, his dessert totally made up for it. His lemon tart was described to be ‘the best dessert he had ever had the opportunity to taste, like ever’, and my almond tart was moist, moreish, and errr, marzipan magic.
If you can even contemplate food after such an epic meal, then breakfast choices might be your next to-do. We knew that we would a) probably wouldn’t fancy something lavish in the morning, and b) almost certainly would like a lie-in. So before we went to sleep, we decided on the convenience of an in-room breakfast and placed our order which is on a sign you simply put on your door. It arrived the next day promptly at the time we chose, and after a quick call to reception to ask for a cheeky extended check-out (top tip here- most hotels are lovely enough to let you have an extra hour if you ask nicely!!), Mr Biscuit and I sipped tea in bed, and enjoyed our toast, all in the comfort of our room, for a simple tray charge.
All in all, The Runnymede-on-Thames, is certainly in our top list of hotels we definitely wish to go back to. It is in a prime location for a variety of day-trips, has the most gorgeous spa, and some ever so tempting packages for very affordable prices. We highly recommend it, so it’s a thumbs up from Mr and Mrs Biscuit, being a veritable chocolate-hob-nob of hotels. Surely there is no greater praise?
Pics courtesy of www.runnymedehotel.com/