British Travel Journal - - HOTEL REVIEW -

The ho­tel of­fers 41 bed­rooms and its el­e­gant, re­fined de­sign is the call­ing card of New York-based Cham­pal­i­maud De­sign, which also has The Dorch­ester and The Gains­bor­ough to its name.

Most guest rooms are lo­cated in the Tem­ple build­ing where a cou­ple of the larger suites also boast bal­conies and ter­races. The pièce de ré­sis­tance, how­ever, is The Wedge­wood Suite, which oc­cu­pies the orig­i­nal build­ing and boasts mag­nif­i­cent near-360° views of lawns and river­banks. Its spec­tac­u­lar ceil­ing fea­tures Nep­tune, shells and mer­maids in high re­lief Wedge­wood blue plas­ter­work and feels re­gal in ev­ery sense of the word. Guests warmed by quin­tes­sen­tial Bri­tish touches will de­light in the stun­ning bone china tea set, dark pan­elling, his­toric por­trai­ture, and semi-canopied bed. Mod­ern lux­u­ries also abound with cloud­soft linen, a river-view roll-top bath, vast wa­ter­fall shower, and fra­grant Aro­mather­apy As­so­ciate toi­letries.

Mon­archs, aris­to­crats, lit­er­ary icons and a mul­ti­tude of fa­mous names from war poet Siegfried Sas­soon to HG Wells have en­joyed river life at Mon­key Is­land over the past 800 years and the ho­tel proudly cel­e­brates its legacy.

A 1905 pho­to­graph on dis­play shows Ed­ward VII en­joy­ing af­ter­noon tea un­der the is­land's wal­nut trees and on ar­rival mor­eish orange and wal­nut brownie slices await us, giv­ing an­other nod to the ho­tel's rich his­tory. The brown­ies are made by ex­ec­u­tive chef William Hem­ming us­ing a tra­di­tional recipe dat­ing back cen­turies to the time when the is­land was home to orange and wal­nut trees. Ac­com­pa­ny­ing the de­lec­ta­ble good­ies is an em­bossed card with a quote from Frances Count­ess of Hert­ford writ­ing in 1738 of the is­land's hor­ti­cul­ture.

His­tor­i­cal touches such as a th­ese are fre­quent and en­gag­ing, en­sur­ing ev­ery guest's stay is in­ter­twined with the is­land's fas­ci­nat­ing story.

On our side ta­ble, a com­pli­men­tary gin elixir makes the per­fect sun­downer to re­cline with as we rel­ish the Wedge­wood Suite and its views of the gar­dens and flow­ing river. The elixir pays homage to the monks' cen­turies-old tra­di­tion of mak­ing po­tions and reme­dies us­ing botan­i­cals. This monas­ti­cal con­nec­tion con­tin­ues at the ho­tel's brand new Float­ing Spa. Lo­cated on a cus­tom-made river barge moored along­side the ho­tel gar­dens, The Float­ing

Spa has three treat­ment rooms and draws in­spi­ra­tion from the monks' home­made botan­i­cal tinc­tures and cel­e­brates a time when apothe­caries would use barges to ship medic­i­nal herbs up and down the bustling River Thames. A host of five-star fa­cials and mas­sages are on of­fer, and home­made elixirs are stored in a col­lec­tion of won­der­ful bell jars at the spa's ‘Elixir Bar' – the on­river set­ting only serves to in­crease the bliss­fully so­porific vibe.

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