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With the Royal Windsor Pub as your hub, take another look at historic Windsor on London’s doorstep.
With its iconic round tower, Windsor Castle is instantly recognisable to those who fly into Heathrow, regularly drive along the M4 motorway or are one of the millions around the world who watched last year’s Royal Weddings. Easily accessible from London (once upon a time you could actually take the District Line to Windsor) and with history, heritage, a good range of retail and riverside walks it offers a great day out. But as Harry and Meghan are about to make Royal Windsor and Eton their family home maybe it’s time to stay longer, stop over and spend time getting to know Windsor.
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Dining in Windsor – The Royal Windsor Pub:
Arriving by train from Waterloo into Windsor and Eton Riverside station, look no further than across the road to the Royal Windsor pub, for a great spot to plan your day over coffee and pastries or, depending on your arrival time, lunch, early evening drinks, or dinner.
Launched under new management for last year’s Royal events, the pub is owned by the Marylebone Leisure Group (MLG) which operates a number of successful pubs, bars and restaurants in London and the South East.
The refurbished bar and restaurant areas are light and inviting, and the restaurant menu offers a wide variety of really good value, well-portioned and presented dishes.
The Small Plates are generous and the salads make for a light but satisfying lunch. The Avocado & Crayfish Salad (£7 or £ 11 as a main course) is fresh and filling, as is the Parma Ham Salad with roasted figs and buffalo mozzarella.
For fans of Japanese barbecue grilling, the Large Grilled Prawns (£ 7.50) slow-cooked on a Robata grill over hot charcoal and served in garlic butter on warm ciabatta bread are delicious.
Other Robata dishes include a 10oz Rib-Eye Steak (£19.50), dry-aged, with crushed new potatoes, buttered kale & crispy shallots and Spatchcock Poussin (£13.00) with herb couscous.
The Large Plate menu includes pub-grub standards like Fish & Chips (£12.50) and an excellent Pie of the Day (£12), along with a range of hearty specials like Pan-fried Calves Liver & Bacon (£15.95) and lighter options including delicate Sea Bass (£17.95) and Linguine Vongole (£13.00)
Vegetarians are well catered for across all sections of the menu. A range of pizza-like Flatbreads with tasty toppings include Homemade Andouille Sausage, with roasted shallots, artichoke hearts & mozzarella (£9.50) to Wild Mushroom with rocket, roasted garlic & shaved Berkswell (£9.00). On weekdays there’s a great value set lunch menu of a starter and main course (£12.95) while Sundays offer a popular range of roasts.
While the cosy bar and restaurant are good for chilly or rainy days, the pub’s rear garden really comes into its own when the sun comes out, offering an outside bar, grill, and lovely views of the famous Castle.
Make the Royal Windsor your base-camp! After a long day sightseeing, as well as good eating, you can join the Wednesday night quiz or enjoy Live Music on Fridays and Saturdays’ DJ nights.
The daily ‘’2-4-1’’ cocktail happy hours are definitely worth sticking around for as the house specialises in spirit infusions created by experts in a dedicated Infusions Lab where the Infusion Chef produces over 50 different unique infused spirits, syrups and liqueurs.
All the cocktails served in the Royal Windsor are made from these unique infusions. Gin fans will appreciate the Rhubarb & Blackberry and Clementine & Rosemary Gins (£10.95 each) which are particularly good and refreshing as a pre-dinner sharpener.
The back of the bar looks like a mad professor’s lab with rows of odd-shaped bottles filled with enticingly colourful liquids. The infusions are also used to flavour shots and the pub offers a Treasure Box of eight shots to try (£20) – perfect for a birthday treat!
If you’ve tried all eight yourself, instead of unsteadily heading across the road and catching the train back to London, you’ll be glad you decided to stay over for a mini-break in Windsor rather than be a day-tripper.
Self-Catering Accommodation in Windsor UK:
Windsor offers a good range of hotel accommodation, but an alternative if you are looking for more flexibility is serviced self-catering and Urban Living’s The Mary apartment is a great choice. It’s located a short walk away in Eton, across the Thames, an attractive location in its own right and famous for its public school.
Urban Living has several well-located properties in Windsor, all tastefully furnished, decorated and equipped. The Mary apartment is set in a pin-smart modern block and has two bedrooms, a generous living/dining and kitchen areas; using the sofa bed it can sleep six.
If you’re bored with your companions, there’s always Alexa to talk to and as Netflix is available on the TV, you can also put your feet up and, inspired by everything royal you’ve seen that day, binge-watch The Crown.
The really comfortable beds and quiet location pretty much guarantee a good night’s sleep. Also, unlike some similar places, the apartment comes with thoughtfully provided basics like milk, bread, butter – and prosecco.
With almost a thousand years of history, Windsor and Eton deserve at least a one night stay.
The Castle dominates the town centre and its story is that of England’s monarchy. If Buckingham Palace is the Queen’s “office” then Windsor is her “home” and there’s a warmth in these rooms, a palpable presence of previous residents, which is absent from Buck House. The State Apartments are truly stunning, the art on display, by Holbein, Brueghel and Van Dyck, to name just a few, is seriously impressive. But don’t miss out on the free guided tour of the precincts to learn the Castle’s back story and of the kings and queens who left their mark.
Outside the castle, Windsor & Eton Central station (besides welcoming travellers from Paddington) is the centre-piece of a lively shopping centre with a wide range of known-brand restaurants and the lovely Victorian ticket office makes an attractive tourist information centre and independent café.
Windsor Great Park:
A short walk from the town centre is the wide-open spaces of Windsor Great Park where you can re-trace Megan and Harry’s wedding procession route down the Long Walk.
A very special and memorable way to round off your trip to Windsor UK might be a helicopter flight from nearby Wycombe Air Park. Urban Living will organise this for you (or if you prefer the country life, they can take you horse riding or clay pigeon shooting too).
For those used to flying in fixed-wing aircraft, a helicopter is a novel and exciting experience. Rising up, just hanging in the air, before heading onwards and upwards is an exhilarating feeling. With flight speeds of max 100 mph, and relatively low height, you can really savour the views over the Thames, on to the Chilterns hills and the small, quaintly English towns and villages, toy-like below, just waiting to be explored.
Thinking of visiting Windsor yourself? Why not pin this post for later
Looking for more places to go on a mini-break from London? We recommend The Bingham Riverhouse in Richmond upon Thames. Or why not travel a bit further west and stay in one the charming hotels we’ve reviewed in Winchester