A classic destination never fails to delight, especially when new venues offer one surprise after another, says Zara Zhuang
England has it all: regal aura, cultural heritage, scenic landscapes, culinary delights and more. The country may be well toured, but there’s always something popping up that keeps one going back for more, whether it’s exploring fresh surprises in London or venturing through the bucolic idyll of the surrounding Home Counties.
An unlikely location for two of Great Britain and Ireland’s five threeMichelin-starred restaurants – The Fat Duck by Heston Blumenthal and The Waterside Inn by Alain Roux – the village of Bray- on-thames in Berkshire is the epitome of excellence and relaxed refinement. The area hosted an early fishing spot built by local monks in the Middle Ages, and has been a retreat of choice among monarchs, aristocrats and the intelligentsia for centuries.
The fishing haven built by the Duke of Marlborough in the early 18th century on the narrow Monkey Island in the River Thames is set to be opened as part of the Monkey Island Estate, a luxurious hideaway by YTL Hotels. The nearly 3ha property comprises Grade I-listed pavilions, 27 guest rooms and three suites on the island, and six individual residences in the village. With renovations led by New York- based Champalimaud Design, the creative force behind other iconic YTL Hotels properties such as The Gainsborough Bath Spa and The Green Leaf Niseko Village, the decor reflects modern elegance, timeless glamour and a relaxed countryside spirit.
With more than its history to recommend itself, Monkey Island Estate offers floating spas, with treatments conducted on the River Thames itself, and modern British cuisine at The Monkey Island Brasserie, led by Executive Chef William Hemming, formerly Head Chef at Simpson’s in the Strand. The exquisite property also boasts views of the River Thames and is surrounded by manicured gardens.
Set to open in February 2019, Monkey Island Estate is part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection. With locations and properties like this to explore, a visit to England can never disappoint.