The Thames Valley's riverside towns come into their own in the summer, as the locals hang out the bunting for regatta season. The Henley Regatta reaches its climax today.
One of the best places from which to enjoy messing about on the river is The Compleat Angler. Named after Izaak Walton's 17th-century book about another watery pursuit, fishing, this charming hotel, with its country-house feel, is set on Marlow's riverbank and also conveniently positioned for guests to enjoy the pretty town itself.
The numerous independently run shops and boutiques that dot the high street offer a refreshingly different shopping experience from the national chain-store norm, and you can pick up some local, organic produce at the weekly farmers' market held every Sunday at the Dean Street car park.
All 64 spacious rooms have been recently redecorated and upgraded to include air conditioning and complimentary broadband. My elegant "feature" room came complete with a seating area, flat-screen TV and a balcony overlooking the weir. It was all I could do to drag myself off the extremely comfortable king-sized bed for a spot of Molton Brown pampering in the large bathroom with its twin vanity units, separate shower and underfloor heating.
The food and drink
The intimate fine-dining Aubergine restaurant, with its stained glass, exposed brickwork and open fireplace, is the sister of the acclaimed Chelsea original. The £55 three-course à la carte menu is full of classical French dishes, such as fillet of brill poached to perfection in cider and a rich and delicious clementine soufflé with chocolate sauce. The more casual menu at Bowaters restaurant (available in-room, too) includes grilled Scottish sirloin with Stilton potato. It's also where you can enjoy the cracking full English breakfast, complete with river views. If you really want to push the boat out, book a table at one of Marlow's highly rated restaurants such as The Vanilla Pod or the Michelin-starred Hand and Flowers just across the suspension bridge.
Take a river trip on one of the hotel's two motor launches, or fish the Thames with the expert guidance of angler Roger Wyndham-Barnes who moors his boat at the hotel. Walk along the Thames Path or enjoy the panoramic views on the six-mile Woods and Water Walk from nearby Bourne End.
Children are welcome and connecting rooms are available. Dogs stay for £10 a night; baskets provided. Six ground-floor rooms have been modified for guests with disabilities. Hearing loops are available on request and fire safety instructions are in Braille.
From £190 for B&B in a double room.
Macdonald Compleat Angler, Marlow, Buckinghamshire SL7 1RG (0870 400 8100; compleatangler-hotel.co.uk).
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