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The Big Six: Hotels by the Thames

The Runnymede-on-Thames, Egham

Set at the top of a grassy bank, The Runnymede makes best use of its riverside setting with a collection of boats to pootle along the water, bags of bread for duck-feeding, and two restaurants that open onto the riverbank. Many of the rooms overlook the tree-lined river and Bell Weir lock gates; additional watery vistas can be enjoyed in the shiny new spa with its pool and whirlpool bath. And when the weather turns, there's a cosy lounge to hole up in, too.

The Runnymede-on-Thames, Windsor Road, Egham, Surrey,TW20 0AG (01784 220 960; runnymedehotel.com). Doubles start at £205, room only.

Hotel Verta, London

This brand-new hotel is in the far reaches of Battersea, so it's slightly out of the centre – unless you're arriving by helicopter, of course, in which case it couldn't be better situated. Adjoining the London Heliport, Hotel Verta is the first capital city venture for von Essen hotels. Guests who have not landed by chopper can get their fill of river views from the rooftop penthouse suite or the waterside restaurant. Inspired by the golden age of air travel, rooms are suitably glamorous, decked out in lime, cream and chocolate shades.

Hotel Verta, Bridges Wharf, Battersea, London SW11 3BE (020-7801 3500; hotel-verta.co.uk). Doubles start at £206, room only.

Hamiltons Boutique Hotel, Southend-on-Sea

Gaze out of the windows from this elegant townhouse and watch the Thames end its journey in the North Sea. Overlooking the Thames Estuary, this chic hotel is decked out with printed wallpapers and crystal chandeliers.

Hamiltons Boutique Hotel, 6 Royal Terrace, Southend on Sea, Essex (01702 332350; hamiltonsboutiquehotel.co.uk). Doubles start at £60, including breakfast.

Hotel du Vin, Henley-on-Thames

Henley-on-Thames is not only a cornerstone of boating tradition, but was also the founding place of Brakspears beers in 1711. Its brewery closed in 2002 and was converted to a Hotel du Vin hotel several years later. Rooms integrate original features such as heavy wooden beams, stone floors and girders with luxurious comfort; a decadent touch is a suite offering a bathtub on a balcony overlooking the river. The hotel also offers a skippered boat Bateau du Vin, for anything from picnics afloat to a prime vantage point to watch the famous royal regatta, champagne in hand.

Hotel du Vin and Bistro, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire RG9 2BP (01491 848 400; hotelduvin.com), Doubles start at £115, room only.

The Olde Bell Inn, Hurley

Design guru Ilse Crawford has cast her restrained-chic aesthetic about this ancient coaching inn. Rooms are spread between the main inn and a collection of barns and outbuildings. A homely feel prevails with sisal rugs, grey wool blankets and roll-top baths.

The Olde Bell Inn, High Street, Hurley, Berkshire SL6 5LX (01628 825 881; theoldebell.co.uk). Doubles start at £99, room only.

The Bingham, Richmond

This Georgian townhouse hotel looks onto leafy river views. The bedrooms are awash with indigo and aubergine velvets, mirrors and cut glass, while the decadent restaurant was awarded its first Michelin star this year.

The Bingham, 61-63 Petersham Road, Richmond Upon Thames, Surrey, TW10 6UT (020-8940 0902; thebingham.co.uk). Doubles start at £160, room only.