Living in an over-populated and fast-paced city such as London, I often find myself longing for a tranquil retreat to the peaceful and picture-perfect English countryside. In search of some peace and quiet in Buckinghamshire, I recently found myself staying at Macdonald’s Compleat Angler, a hotel in the charming town of Marlow.
Marlow is quintessential chocolate box town. Only an hour from London and 30 minutes from Heathrow, this is one of the most desired postcodes in the UK and its easy to see why just by walking through their plush High Street. River views, quality restaurants and Waitrose also help.
With a history stretching back as far as 400 years, the hotel’s name is a nod to Izaak Walton’s 17th century book on fishing. As the name suggests, the Compleat Angler is located on the banks of the River Thames, and many of the rooms offer stunning views over the river and into historic Marlow.
Checking into the Windsor Suite I was immediately impressed by the space. The generous living area opened out onto a balcony, offering breath-taking views over the water towards All Saints Church on the opposite bank. The room’s (recently refurbished) interior was warming and calming, with elegant fixtures including velvet curtains and dark wood furnishings complimenting the gold, silver and light grey tones throughout. The suite also boasts three televisions, including a screen above the bath for ultimate relaxation after a long day exploring Marlow.
Small touches have not gone unnoticed, from the comforting king-size bed’s soft white sheets and cosy cushions, to the Penhaligon toiletries which add a touch of opulence. The suite’s elegance is reflected throughout the hotel, which has become an integral part of Marlow life. The space is often used for weddings and on my weekend the bar and dining rooms were packed with locals. A short stroll from Marlow’s picturesque high street, it comes as no surprise that the Compleat Angler is now part of the community.
The area has become quite the foodie destination of late, with Tom Kerridge’s ever-popular pair of eateries – The Coach and The Hand and Flowers – continuing to draw the crowds. The town’s culinary reputation was boosted by the opening of The Ivy Marlow Garden on the high street in 2017. The Compleat Angler boasts two restaurants of its own, in the form of Sindhu, which showcases Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochar’s take on traditional Indian cuisine, and The Riverside Restaurant which offers seasonal British fare.
If you opt for The Riverside Restaurant, expect a well thought out menu of contemporary British dishes using sustainably sourced produce. Choose to start with a cocktail at the hotel’s Walton bar, or dive straight into the a la carte menu with tempting options a plenty. On my visit, enticing starters included a delicious ham hock terrine, with pickled carrots, cauliflower and micro cress. For mains, British pork with crispy artichoke, crispy kale, smoked hash and charred onion caught my attention. Tender and juicy, the pork was cooked with care and attention, and the artichoke and kale added a great level of texture to the plate. Don’t skip pudding – their take on the classic sticky toffee pudding was heavenly.
The Riverside Restaurant is a perfect option for family celebrations and romantic dinners with its breathtaking views over the river. In summer season, the outdoor terrace also makes for perfect al fresco dining and I’m told you can often see the Olympic rowing team training.
The Compleat Angler offers true hospitality in its best and simplest form. The staff and overall experience was faultless and will provide you a luxurious stay. Location is key here, and this hotel has the ultimately spot boasting waterside views – be sure to ask for a hotel facing the River Thames. This quintessentially English retreat to Marlow will give you that calming oasis we all long for.
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