Hotel of the Week: Runnymede Hotel & Spa


Where is it? Conveniently situated for Heathrow Airport and motorway links - or slap bang next to the M25 and under the flight path. Address: Windsor Road, Egham, Surrey TW20 0AG (tel: 01784 436171; fax: 01784 436340; net: www.runnymedehotel.com).

Where is it? Conveniently situated for Heathrow Airport and motorway links - or slap bang next to the M25 and under the flight path. Address: Windsor Road, Egham, Surrey TW20 0AG (tel: 01784 436171; fax: 01784 436340; net: www.runnymedehotel.com).

What's it like? It looks like the modern languages department of a university: an inoffensive 1970s brick building set in 12 acres of unremarkable lawns and car parks. Plus point: it's set on the banks of the Thames - sit on the terrace and watch the boats pass by, albeit to the hum of the aforementioned motorway.

Ambience? None to speak of. This might be a private hotel but it feels like a chain. The decor is the standard mish-mash of patterns with a few rowing club references thrown in. The lounge is light and spacious and not an unpleasant place to enjoy afternoon tea, but it never stops feeling like a hotel lobby.

Service? Friendly but unintrusive and efficient. And there is a long list of services, from sewing kits to helipads.

Rooms? Clean, functional but nothing to write home about, although my bed was exceptionally comfortable. Avoid the ghastly smelling complimentary toiletries in the bathroom.

Food? At lunchtime, we popped in to Charlie Bell's bar - a pub-restaurant - but turned on our heels when we saw the uninspiring menu of chicken wings and the like, and heard Sky Sports blaring away. Instead we opted for the relative tranquillity of the terrace outside the Conservatory Lounge, and tasty smoked salmon sandwiches. For dinner, we tried the hotel restaurant, Left Bank. We should have smelled a rat when the waitress explained that Saturday night was dinner-dance night. Sounded like tacky fun to us. But once inside, it became apparent that this wasn't to be a dance but a disco. Sure enough, as they cleared away our main courses and brought on the desserts down went the lights and on came Stars on 45. Needless to say, the place cleared.

Clientele? Wedding guests and more wedding guests at weekends, it seems. Also, families out for lunch by the river.

Things to do? The best reason for staying here. There is plenty to do. For the family: Legoland, Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures. For the sporting: Ascot, Sandown Park, Sunningdale, Wentworth. For the outdoor bound: Virginia Water and Savill Gardens. For history lovers: Windsor Castle, Eton and Hampton Court Palace. If you are feeling lazy, just spend the day in the hotel spa, which has a swimming pool, sauna, steam room and all the beauty treatments you could wish for. Or take a stroll along the riverbank - in the direction away from the motorway, of course.

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