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Esher: where to eat, shop and visit

PUBLISHED: 14:42 29 May 2012 | UPDATED: 21:25 20 February 2013

Esher: where to eat, shop and visit

Esher: where to eat, shop and visit

A favourite hunting spot for Henry VIII and, later, a regular haunt of Queen Victoria when she visited Claremont Landscape Garden, Esher has long been popular with the rich and famous. Today, the town is known for its cosmopolitan vibe

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine May 2012

A favourite hunting spot for Henry VIII and, later, a regular haunt of Queen Victoria when she visited Claremont Landscape Garden, Esher has long been popular with the rich and famous. Today, the town is known for its cosmopolitan vibe, and come the weekend theres a host of great boutiques, bars and restaurants to be enjoyed

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At the racecourse
Just a short trot from the town centre is one of the UKs best known racecourses, Sandown Park. Founded in 1875, it was also the Queen Mothers favourite course. As well as horse racing, there are a few even livelier ways to spend the day there too. Everyone from F1 superstars to Freddie Flintoff via hopefuls on The Apprentice have tried their hands at Daytona motorsport karting at Sandown Park, and then theres skiing and snowboarding as well.

Shopping in Esher
For a bit of retail therapy, you cant go wrong in Esher. Just to give you a taster, high-end boutique Bernard of Esher is famed for its exclusive designer wear and originally started 30 years ago; OKeefe stocks a wide range of stylish labels; Club is owned by the wife of current England football captain, Scott Parker; Lily & Bow opened in March and has its own coffee shop; and Something Extra specialises in gorgeous gowns for curvy girls.

Caf culture
These days, Esher is the kind of town where you can lounge in the sun and imagine yourself lost in a Spanish plaza, with bars and restaurants such as The Albert Arms, the Rock Salt Roof Garden, The Bear, Layla and the Good Earth. Its a real place for high fliers to relax over a bite to eat and their favourite tipple, while completing their latest deal or swapping trends. And then there is Carluccios and The Chocolate Teapot, which top off the caf culture vibe perfectly.

Founded by George Henry, after he moved to West End village in 1871, Garsons Farm is now said to be the biggest pick-your-own in the UK, so grab yourself a basket and delve among the rows of plants for the freshest meal. Further supplemented by a farm shop, garden centre and restaurant, its the perfect place to relax.

A tranquil oasis
Created in the early 18th century for Claremont House (which is now a school), Claremont Landscape Garden is one of the earliest surviving examples of its kind, with many famous horticultural names, including Sir John Vanbrugh and Capability Brown, going on to lavish their love upon the place. While there, take the chance to visit one of the National Trusts more unusual properties. Built in 1938, The Homewood reflects the style and ethos of the Modern Movement (booking required).

Hit the lanes
A short drive from the centre of Esher takes you to the affluent villages of Claygate and Thames Ditton, or the towns of Cobham and Weybridge. The Elmbridge area is famous as a haven for celebrities and you never quite know who youll bump into as you peruse the pubs and shops. Its tempting to go house spotting too, although be warned, property envy may soon set in!

My Esher Weekend

Need to know:

Where to eat: The Good Earth (01372 462489), a Chinese restaurant that has been around for over 25 years, and Layla (01372 462333), a Lebanese restaurant, are both hugely popular.
Where to drink: The Rocksalt Roof Garden (01372 777777) a Champagne and oyster bar with a VIP roof garden or the more classic, The Albert Arms (01372 465290).
Something to take home: Some fresh produce from Garsons Farm.
Somewhere to stay: The Bear (01372 469786) is a traditional coaching inn located in the centre.
Top tip: The Tudor St Georges Church, which was attended by Queen Victoria when she visited the area, is a periodic venue for music and the arts, as well as occasional evening services. The church is open Saturday mornings during the summer and a key can be obtained from the High Street branch of the estate agent Savills during the week.

Getting there:

Off the A3 from junction 10 of the M25. Esher station is on the far side of Sandown Park from the town.

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