CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Surrey Life today CLICK HERE

What it’s like to stay at The Runnymede on Thames Hotel

PUBLISHED: 16:17 16 July 2018 | UPDATED: 16:46 16 July 2018

The Runnymede on Thames sits right on the banks of the river (Photo by Richard Waite)

The Runnymede on Thames sits right on the banks of the river (Photo by Richard Waite)


As the Runnymede Rivers Celebration got under way, Rebecca Younger visited a hotel right at the heart of the action

With the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, 2015 was a big year for Runnymede. Three years on and there’s another reason to visit the area – its waterways. Spring 2018 saw the launch of the first Runnymede Rivers Celebration, a festival programme of events centred on the borough’s watery heritage.

The River Thames flows along the northern boundary of the borough and, sitting proudly on its banks, just before the Bell Weir lock, is The Runnymede on Thames Hotel – a great place to base a visit to the area.

We arrived (on a rather wet Sunday afternoon) to find the lounge bar, in the lobby of the hotel, buzzing with couples, groups of friends and families enjoying the laid-back vibe – an acoustic guitarist providing the soundtrack to their afternoon.

Keen to throw ourselves into life by the river, we had booked one of the hotel’s riverboats, which are available to hire by the hour. Guest services showed us the ropes (excuse the pun) with a quick briefing on how to drive and moor the boat and then we were off.

Unfortunately, my romantic notion of sitting back and basking in the sunshine as my partner read out the lines of Rudyard Kipling’s The Reeds of Runnymede were ever so slightly dampened by the dreary weather but the journey was incredibly relaxing nonetheless. The electric riverboats are roomy (they seat up to six) and have pull down covers if the weather is not on your side or you require shade.

What’s so great about boat life is that it forces you to slow down. There’s an eight-knot per hour speed limit on the river and there really is nothing much to do, bar sit back and take in your surroundings, although there are plenty of places along this stretch of the Thames to moor up and explore if you wish.

Back on dry land and after warming up with a coffee in the lounge bar, we headed to the hotel’s spa. Look out for the display of yellow rubber ducks (the hotel’s emblem is a duck) on your way – the kids (both big and small) will no doubt have fun spotting the different characters and you can purchase the ducks as a memento of your stay. We were suitably impressed to find a golfer (my partner makes a living as a professional), which now sits pride of place on the corner of the bath tub at home.

The spa offers an extensive range of treatments and there’s a gym and studio offering daily classes, two pools (adults and kids) a hot tub, steam room and sauna, as well as plenty of loungers on which to recline. There’s also an outdoor pool (open in the summer months) and tennis courts. To celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta in Runnymede in 1215 the hotel, sponsored the Magna Carta garden at the 2015 Chelsea Flower Show. You can now view the said garden, which sits pride of place in the grounds.

For dinner there are two restaurants to choose from; buffet-style dining at Leftbank, which also serves breakfast and lunch, and The Lock Bar & Kitchen, which aptly overlooks Bell Weir lock and was where we chose to dine.

Built in 1817, the Bell Weir Lock has a fascinating history. It was originally known as Egham Lock but had to be rebuilt 50 years later after the weir collapsed due to the weight of ice. The original lock house was on the riverbank by the lock, exactly where the hotel now sits.

Under the direction of executive chef David Coutts, the menu at The Lock Bar and Kitchen is filled with hearty, home-style dishes with a focus on local ingredients and flavour.

We ordered the wild mushroom risotto with truffle oil and salt cod in clam chowder. Both were creamy and delicious and packed with flavour. For our mains, we chose grilled Surrey farm ribeye steak, served with big chips and salad; and stone bass with octopus, saffron, lemon and parsley. My partner’s steak was generously sized and incredibly tender, while my fish fell apart under my fork exactly as a bass fillet should. The recommended Argentinian Mendoza was an excellent accompaniment. We had planned to skip pudding but the chocolate cup topped with crunchy hazelnuts with churros was too tempting to decline. It was rich and chocolatey and to my delight was served in a proper mug rather than an espresso-cup sized portion.

At breakfast, served in Leftbank the following morning, there was similar attention to detail with pretty much every cold and hot breakfast food you could think of, including honey from the hotel’s own bee colony.

New to the hotel this year is the Riverside Dome Dining Experience, which enables two people to dine in a private pod right next to the river and is ideal for those extra special occasions.

The Runnymede-on-Thames works hard to offer something for everyone and manages to tick a lot of boxes. On arrival, you might think that it doesn’t look much more than a business hotel but scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find a warm and welcoming venue that is at the very heart of this riverside community. 

Need to know

• Dinner, bed and breakfast packages at The Runnymede on Thames start from £220 per couple and include use of the spa facilities.

• Electric river boats can be hired at a rate of £45 per hour Monday to Thursday and £50 per hour at weekends

• The Runnymede on Thames Hotel and Spa, Windsor Road, Egham TW20 0AG; 01784 220600;

• For more information about Runnymede Rivers Celebration and events taking place, visit

More from Surrey Life

Yesterday, 10:53

From Santa’s Grottos, to Victorian Christmas markets and late-night shopping, we’ve covered what’s on in Surrey this season

Read more
Yesterday, 10:47

Whether you're looking for fine dining, pub grub or exotic dishes, eating out in Surrey has something for everyone. Here's our guide to the best local restaurants and pubs

Read more
Yesterday, 10:41

Having bloomed in Brighton’s restaurant scene over the past decade, The Chilli Pickle opened its second site in Guildford this summer

Read more
Mon, 14:32

Historic Royal Palaces and IMG have announced that Kylie Minogue is the first headliner confirmed for Hampton Court Palace Festival 2019. These will be her only London shows of summer 2019. Here’s how you can get tickets

Read more
Mon, 12:56

Enjoy this linear rail to ramble section of the Thames Down Link route taking the short train-ride from Box Hill & Westhumble to Ashtead before walking back

Read more
Mon, 12:13

Great things to do in Surrey this weekend (16, 17 and 18 November): art exhibitions, walks, concerts, theatre, places to visit and other events and ideas.

Read more
Friday, November 9, 2018

We round up 10 of the most beautiful photos of Surrey shared on Instagram this week…

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

It’s that time of year when our beautiful countryside is alight with the colours of autumn. Here, we pick out some of her favourite spots to enjoy the seasonal splendour – as well as some perfect places for a post-walk refresher

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Found on the stretch of the River Thames between Weybridge and East Molesey, Sunbury-on-Thames is blessed with a village feel where it meets the water. From antique hunts to the joys of river life, here are a few of our favourite reasons to visit

Read more
Monday, November 5, 2018

Verity & Violet are Loui and Jess – a singing duo from Surrey who specialise in blending vintage classics with modern favourites. The two have achieved success in the capital, but are now hoping to attract an audience closer to home

Read more
Friday, November 2, 2018

With the Christmas celebrations seemingly starting earlier every year, it all feels a little too ‘soon’ sometimes, but what if you want to look your best for Christmas & New year celebrations and are considering having cosmetic non-surgical procedures? The Bella Vou Pantiles Clinic offers surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures and treatments from a purpose-built private clinic in the heart of Royal Tunbridge Wells

Read more
Thursday, November 1, 2018

Living in England’s most densely wooded county, it’s always a pleasure to witness Surrey donning its autumn finery. Here’s some of the best places to do just that - plus a few pub pit stops to enjoy on route!

Read more
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

We are regularly reminded of the high cost of housing with statistics revealing that only one in three millennials will be able to afford their own home during their lifetime and that most will remain in the category known as Generation Rent

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Year 5 pupils at Reigate St Mary’s School (RSM) who designed and carried out a community project as part of a UK wide Make a Difference Challenge, have won the London area competition for their stunning scrapbook record of their project

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search