Back to nature bolthole

white building on island surrounded by water and tress sunny blue day

Editor Claire was invited to Monkey Island Estate, a sanctuary set on a private island on the River Thames offering laid-back luxury.

A careful renovation has preserved features while adding in contemporary comforts in both the white-bricked Pavilion and Temple buildings that make up this Berkshire-based YTL Hotels property.

It's accessed via a footbridge (after checking in at the Boat House on the mainland) and is home to luxury accommodation in a choice of 40 stylish bedrooms and The Wedgewood Suite commanding primeposition in the original Temple building withwrap-around views. As the hotel's grandest offering for newlyweds, this spacious Grade I listed suite boasts character features including the original Wedgewood blue ceiling with contrasting white friezes, a custom-designed bed with an upholstered headboard, a separate seating area and a walk-in closet with an exposed bath tub. The Barn Rooms, located off the island adjacent to the private residences, offer a great option for wedding guests equipped with marble en suite bathrooms and walk-in showers.
blue floating spa barge on water
wedding reception room with art deco interior and floor to ceiling windows
historic seating room with painted ceiling and red ornate chairs

The Floating Spa By Spa Village is nestled in a tranquil spot moored on the banks of the river. It's only open to hotel residents and the wellness journey starts the moment you step on board with a choice of indulgent treatments.
A must-try is The Floating Massage by Moss of the Isles performed while lying on an aqua cushion, giving the illusion you're floating on a cloud of warm water.

Weddings take place in a choice of elegant function suites located in the Pavilion. Ceremonies are held in the impressive River Room with its floor-to-ceiling windows revealing far-flung views of the river and idyllic surroundings.

There's direct access to a private patio area with a firepit and couples wanting an outdoor ceremony can enjoy the foliage-clad gazebo with guests seated outside onthe lawn.

The Art Deco-inspired Marlborough Ballroom with a statement botanical chandelier, mirrored panelling and doors leading to the manicured grounds hosts the wedding breakfast and reception, and both this and the River Room can be hired exclusively. There's also the option of securing a marquee for up to 300 guests from the hotel's list of preferred suppliers, and exclusive use of the entire estate can be booked. Bespoke options are also available - bride arriving by boat? Of course! An outdoor gathering under a stretch tent? The talented team can make it happen.

afternoon tea on a table plates with cakes and a pot of tea

At the heart of the hotel is The Monkey Island Brasserie, flanked by an outdoor terrace boasting waterway views, serving breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.

Couples passionate about food will love the relaxed, informal vibe and classic British dishes created using seasonal ingredients from local suppliers and the on-site herb garden (a stroll over to this is well worth it – spot the beehives and resident hens while you're there, too!).

On the dinner menu is a pan-fried fillet of chalk-stream trout served with salsa verdi and a butter aged 250-gram sirloin steak with Béarnaise sauce and hand-cut chips. The avocado toast served with a poached hen's egg is the perfect fuel for the day at breakfast. Those wishing to relax with an after-dinner drink can do so in The Monkey Bar where the Harrow & Hope Brut Reserve and Monkey Shoulder blended malt scotch whiskey are to be tried. For a cheeky late-night tipple, The Whiskey Snug, accessed via a secret staircase, is not to be missed, especially for the romantic view of the footbridge lit up at night.

The Shepherd's Hideaway is nestled in a private spot in the grounds, decorated with contemporary countryside interiors. Memories can be made at this hand-crafted hut, with a celebratory afternoon tea or a gourmet picnic for between two and six guests that can be booked as an add-on to an overnight stay.

Non-residents at the hotel are also welcome, perfect for visitors to the delightful village of Bray-on-Thames, where this island resides, to enjoy.

green shepherd's hut in a field with chairs outside
restaurant of hotel with floor to ceiling windows and bi fold doors
facade of grade 1 listed white hotel on a sunny day

Book it:
Nightly rates at Monkey Island Estate start from £275 per room, per night in a Temple Room.
01628 623 400,

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