Home Hotel reviews The Runnymede on Thames hotel and spa: relaxing riverside stay

The Runnymede on Thames hotel and spa: relaxing riverside stay

This waterfront hotel is just a few miles from Windsor, Heathrow, Thorpe Park and Legoland

by Sarah Bridge
Runnymede hotel and spa outdoor swimming pool

A stay at The Runnymede

The Runnymede on Thames hotel and spa is the perfect place for, as the song goes, ‘messing about on the river’, as its riverside location means it couldn’t be easier to enjoy the river Thames. There are boats to hire right outside the hotel, so you can head off downstream to peer at people’s impressive houses and gardens in this rather affluent part of west London, go for a walk along the Thames Path towards nearby Staines, Windsor or Runnymede, or you just stay put and enjoy people-watching from the several outdoor bars and dining spots at the hotel itself.

The Runnymede was recently acquired by Warner Leisure Hotels, meaning that the hotel is now adult-only, and some refurbishment work is planned, but the owners promise that any work will not detract from the beautiful surroundings and ambience of the hotel.

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During my recent stay at The Runnymede hotel I did all three, taking full advantage of this very pleasant four-star riverside hotel.

The Runnymede on Thames hotel and spa riverside location

The Runnymede hotel and spa backs onto the River Thames which makes is perfect for people-watching, hiking the Thames Path or hiring a boat to explore the river further

A stay at The Runnymede on Thames hotel and spa

The hotel itself is located in Egham, Surrey, just off junction 13 of the M25, and it’s a startling change when you come off the motorway and find yourself immediately at the hotel, set in acres of pleasant, green, grounds just next to the vast open meadows of Runnymede itself.

the sign showing the site of the Magna Carta which is just outside the entrance to The Runnymede hotel and spa

The beautiful wildflower meadow at Runnymede is just across the road from the Runnymede hotel

Just a short walk from the hotel through the meadows or along the river is the Magna Carta memorial, site of the signing of the Magna Carta by King John in 1215. This historic document limited the monarch’s powers and gave legal rights to the citizens, the first English constitution and the basis of many other democracies.

In recognition of the Magna Carta’s importance to the American Declaration of Independence, the American Bar Association built the Magna Carta Memorial here in 1957, which can be easily reached by foot from the nearby car park. Later, the John F Kennedy Memorial was placed nearby, on an acre of land given to the USA, in memory of the President’s role in civil rights.

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Guests at Runnymede aren’t short of local attractions either, with Legoland Windsor, Thorpe Park, Ascot and Windsor Castle all just a short distance away, as is Heathrow Airport, just 20 minutes away by car in good traffic.

Arriving at Runnymede hotel

The hotel has two large car parks, upstream and downstream, and you can drop your luggage off at the entrance before parking your car if you wish. There’s also ample space if you are arriving in style by helicopter, as shown by a rather impressive model which was parked outside when we arrived.

The Runnymede hotel and spa entrance with helicopter

There’s plenty of car parking space at The Runnymede hotel and spa – or you could come in style by helicopter

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The entrance to the Runnymede hotel and spa

The entrance at the Runnymede hotel

The large reception desk was staffed by at least three people when we arrived, making for a speedy check-in, and if your room isn’t ready then there’s a large lounge lobby where you will be waited on by the efficient staff. This area was a real social hub when we were there, with groups of people meeting for drinks and light meals or just a place to gather before heading off to various local tourist attractions. It’s designed in a stylish but fun manner, with decorative light fittings and quirky touches such as a range of plastic ducks dressed as all manner of professions, from policeman and judges to fighter pilots.

The central lounge at The Runnymede hotel and spa

The central lounge at The Runnymede hotel and spa is a real social hub of the local area, with people meeting here for breakfast, drinks, afternoon tea or just to admire the view

Bedrooms at Runnymede hotel

There are 180 bedrooms at The Runnymede hotel and spa, ranging from single and twin rooms to doubles, superiors and the largest duplex rooms. We were staying on the first floor in a Deluxe Double Riverside, and it was a a good size, with a King-sized Hypnos bed, fitted wardrobes, writing desk, chairs, free wifi, fridge, tea and coffee-making facilities and best of all, two large windows with views of the Thames. Due to the proximity of the M25 there is a little background traffic noise but once the windows were closed, we couldn’t hear a thing.

Deluxe bedroom at The Runnymede hotel and spa

Our deluxe double riverside bedroom at The Runnymede was well equipped and had great views of the Thames

bathroom at The Runnymede hotel and spa

The bathroom had a bath, separate shower, large sink and mirror, ESPA toiletries and lots of towels

The bathroom was well-equipped with a bath, separate walk-in shower, twin sinks, large mirrors and lots of fluffy towels, slippers and robes. While it isn’t a spa hotel as such, guests are encouraged to change in their rooms and walk down to the spa and swimming pools, giving it a fairly relaxed and comfortable feel.

view from Runnymede hotel

The view from our hotel bedroom – it could hardly be closer to the River Thames

Exploring the local area

As we had arrived too early for our 2pm check in, we left our luggage behind reception and headed off along the river footpath into Staines, just a 10 minute walk away. We hadn’t expected much of Staines, knowing little about it apart from its connection with comic creation Ali G – but we were pleasantly surprised, with lots of independent shops, a retail park, a large choice of restaurants and a bustling Saturday market.

Thames Side Brewery

The Thames Side Brewery was a lovely find, with locally-brewed ales and lots of space in which to relax

After trying out various places to eat and drink, particularly the local Thames Side brewery which did a good choice of real ales and looks like a great place to spend the evening, we headed back to the hotel for an afternoon relaxing in its heated outdoor swimming pool in the sunshine.

Runnymede swimming pools and spa

The heated outdoor pool at The Runnymede on Thames hotel and spa

The heated outdoor pool at The Runnymede hotel and spa

With a large number of loungers and few people actually in the pool itself, this was a lovely holiday-vibe suntrap and perfect for soaking up the early summer rays. Once the pool closed at 6.30pm it was just a matter of minutes before we had relocated to the indoor swimming pool and spa.

The spa at Runnymede hotel

The spa at Runnymede hotel has an indoor pool, jacuzzi, steam room, saunas and plunge pools

This contained a swimming pool, child’s pool, sauna, steam room and again, lots of lovely loungers to relax on, and inside the changing rooms was another sauna and next to it, an ice-cold plunge pool, perfect for an invigorating blast of freshness. We went round the pool/sauna/ice dip circuit several times, enjoying feeling thoroughly pampered, and then relaxed in the spa lounge which provides free tea, coffee and juice.

Dinner at Runnymede hotel

Dinner at Runnymede hotel is a buffet option at its Leftbank restaurant, which has both indoor and outdoor seating and is a bright, open space decorated in a Scandi-style with stripped wooden floors and soft, muted colours. Buffet dining might not be for everyone but it does mean that the hotel can serve large numbers fairly quickly and the Sunday lunch carvery option the following day was certainly very popular.

The Left Bank restaurant at Runnymede hotel

The Left Bank restaurant at Runnymede hotel offers buffet service for breakfast, lunch and dinner

There was a large choice of starters laid out, including potato salad, smoked salmon, mozzarella, charcuterie and cheese and it was certainly plentiful – although I would have preferred the food to have been kept in chilled display cabinets or at least on ice, particularly on a warm summer’s day when they had been out for a while.

There was a range of hot food options for main courses, including rotisserie chicken, pulled pork, haddock, seabags and seafood pie, and you could also ask for pizza or pasta to be freshly cooked for you. It’s not fine dining by any stretch but the buffet option is handy if you have children or a large group – dinner is £35 per adult on Friday and Saturdays and Sunday buffet lunch is £38 per adult.

Desserts – if you still had any room – ranged from tiramisu and fruit salad to cheesecake and while again I would have preferred them to all be kept chilled,  there was a large range of options.

Activities at Runnymede hotel

As well as the swimming pools and spa, there was a good range of activities at Runnymede including archery, tennis, laser clay pigeon shooting, paddle-boarding and fitness classes, including outdoor yoga. We actually bumped into the yoga party heading to a secluded spot for their morning workout  while on the way to play tennis before breakfast on Sunday morning. We’d bought our own racquets and tennis balls but the spa also has some to borrow in case it’s a spur of the moment thing, and we certainly felt rather smug as we went into breakfast having run about for 45 minutes on the tennis court.

There’s also the option of picnicking on the grass by the riverbank and have drink from the Runnymede’s own Airstream trailer

 Boating on the River Thames

This was a real highlight as it’s not often you can leave your hotel and be piloting your own boat just minutes later. Runnymede hotel offers a range of boats to hire from little 6-seater Frolics (£50 a hour hire cost at the weekend) to the larger 12-seater Antaris Sixty6 (£125 per hour) – you can also hire a skipper if you’d prefer. We opted for the Frolic and spent a lovely hour scooting along the river through Egham, watching rowers, bike riders and hikers also enjoying the outdoors and feeling very much like we were made for life on the river.

hiring a boat on the Thames

‘Messing about on the river’ – me loving the water life

One hour felt like just enough time to really get a sense of relaxing on the water and it made for a unique stay at this very pleasant riverside hotel. The Runnymede hotel and spa will be converted into an adults-only Warner Leisure hotel next year so if you want to take your family here this summer will be your last chance. It will be interesting to see how it changes next year but you can rest assured that the river and the surrounding countryside will remain as it has done for the last 800 years or more.

Evening at The Runnymede hotel

Evening at The Runnymede hotel

Hotel information and to book The Runnymede Hotel and Spa

The Runnymede on Thames Hotel and Spa, Windsor Road, Egham, Surrey, TW20 0AG

01784 220600

Rooms start from £154 B&B for a standard double based on two adults sharing, going up to £225 for a riverside deluxe double. Single rooms available from £135.

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