Globetrotting girl-about-town and Hg2 guest-blogger Ana Silva heads home to Henley-on-Thames, and finds there’s a little piece of a hedonism awaiting away from the city.
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Everyone knows Henley-on-Thames from the annual Royal Regatta; even those who didn’t know now do, thanks to a spot on The Social Network. I can’t tell you how many non-British friends watched it and called me straight away, saying, “Now I know where you live!”. I know I enjoy my travels (possibly a little too much), but Henley is home to me – and boy, do I love it! It’s the perfect place for a hedonistic weekend away from the city, be that London or anywhere in the world. And did I mention it’s only 20 minutes from Heathrow?
Check-in in style at Hotel du Vin, Henley’s coolest hotel, whose bar is also one of the busiest and open ’til 12am. The Champagne bar rivals many London establishments, but here you have the added bonus of being in a small community, surrounded by the best-looking people in town. Hungry? The Bistro at HdV is also a good choice, but if you like a little spice, then Spice Merchant, a modern Indian restaurant right on the river, is your next best bet. Other alternatives include the Green Olive, which serves up gorgeous Greek fare, and Villa Marina, which offers a menu of inspiring Italian plates. There are many bars to choose from for an after-dinner drink, but on a Friday I recommend The Angel on the Bridge or, as previously suggested, Hotel du Vin.
After a nice lie-in, it is time to wake up and smell the coffee… or bucks fizz! Brunch is popular around town and Maison Blanc is just the place for that, coupled with a few homemade macaroons. Take a stroll around town (which isn’t particularly large) and explore the local shops – plenty of quaint boutiques, jewellers and surely something for the boys, too! A little walk by the river will help you work up an appetite. Hungry? You’ll need to be if you can get a table at The Crooked Billet, a few miles away in Stoke Row. Possibly the cosiest country restaurant, with the most incredible food. Nearby Hambleden is so pretty, it cannot be missed! Is it time for dinner? One of my favourites is certainly Orwells, a few miles outside Henley, in Binfield Heath. If available, book a table at The Room, where you are in for a treat. Fancy a drink and a bit of music? On Saturday, Koko’s is the place to go ’till 3am!
Depending on how you are feeling, maybe breakfast in bed at HdV is as much as you feel like doing… but after check-out, brave the river and head east, where you can have a look at the Rowing Museum – the building in itself is worth a visit. Then maybe it’s time to head home… after a nice Sunday lunch at The Little Angel, on the other side of the river.
For a small town, there is plenty to see and do… and eat. Enough, at least, to convince me to move from the city to the countryside. But I’ll always be a city girl at heart, and I’m happy that London is less than an hour away.