The Monkey Island Hotel reopens and entertainment guide
Alot can happen in two or three years... President Trump, the Brexit vote, a Royal wedding and more Royal babies. But when it comes to local news, one of the biggest surprises occurred towards the end of 2015 when rumours began to circulate that the exclusive Monkey Island Hotel at Bray was closing.
The reviews were no longer good, and then a couple had their planned wedding there suddenly cancelled. The writing was on the famous and historic walls and shortly after that Monkey Island shut its doors. But people who feared it might go the same way as Skindles, a couple of miles away beside the Thames (and you can read a ‘phoenix from the flames’ account of that one later on page 80) should now get the bunting out.
The property eventually passed to the prestigious YTL Hotels and as we went to press the finishing touches to an incredible refurbishment were being made. They like to get things right at YTL –
everything must be perfect – so first there was an announcement of a ‘late spring’ opening, and then July. Now they’re nearly there and Monkey Island Estate, set across seven acres with 38 bedrooms and three deluxe suites, all designed by the award-winning New York based Champalimaud Design, is set to reopen.
Champalimaud orchestrated distinctive interior design projects for YTL’s first British property, The Gainsborough
Bath Spa, as well as Green Leaf Niseko Village and the most recently launched Ritz Carlton, Koh Samui. The furnishings of Monkey Island will juxtapose timeless glamour and traditional features with a modern, relaxed countryside style, creating a unique blend of past and present.
There’s no official date, but they’ve already had a ‘practice run’, hosting a summer reception for Graham Barker, the county’s High Sheriff, in the manicured gardens of the newly refurbished private island on the banks of the Thames.
Lee Kelly, previously food and beverage director at The Savoy in London, is the new general manager and says: “Bray is such a beautiful part of the world, and famed for its culinary offerings – I can’t wait to explore what we can add to this as a five-star hotel and how we can make our own mark.
“I have been surprised to learn how so many people I have met know of Monkey Island, and people are so excited to hear that it is finally being brought back to its former glory.”
As for the new executive chef, Will Hemmings, he worked most recently as Head Chef of the iconic Simpson’s in the Strand. He is excited to work alongside British farmers and local producers to incorporate their produce in his dishes.
Menu highlights may well include salmon, smoked on the estate grounds , slow-cooked Welsh lamb rump and for those with a sweet tooth, his renowned Monkey Shoulder Cranachan. Of the appointment, Chef Hemming says: “Bray is already famed for its impressive array of gourmet offerings, but we plan to offer sophisticated yet informal dining, an experience that Bray currently doesn’t have.”
Now just keep an eye on monkeyislandestate.co.uk to be among the first to book.
ABOVE:The Monkey Island Hotel sits on a tiny island on the Thames
BELOW: Artist’s impression of the restaurant at The Monkey Island Hotel