We’ve lived in Windsor for just over 2 years now, and having fully flung ourselves into Berkshire life, we didn’t think we had much more to learn about the city we now call home, but we were wrong. The Windsor Duck Tours gave us insider info hard to find elsewhere. Covering Windsor and Eton, we lapped up fun fact about the famous landmarks in this stunning Royal Borough as well as trivia on former and present famous dwellers from Her Majesty the Queen to Dragon’s Den Peter Jones who attended Windsor Boys High School.
Windsor Castle was built by William The Conqueror in the 11th century and is the Queen’s favourite of all her palaces and while we’ve toured the Castle before and my sons have even sung twice in the Chapel there, the views from the water thanks to the Duck Tour were like no other.
The wow factor of the trip is undoubtedly the movie style transition from road to water which made squeal with joy. Our trip was sandwiched between exquisite courses at The Royal Windsor pub situated opposite the Windsor and Eton Riverside train station, a place we’ve walked past many times and had been meaning to go in.
We ate our starters and mains, breaking before dessert (more of that, later) for our jaunt on the River Thames, returning for sweet treats and shots (yes, shots, which blew our minds) and truly, it was one of our most favourite days here to-date.
A surprisingly hot September Saturday (we seem to be experiencing an Indian Summer here), the river was picture-perfect tranquil, the sky deep blue. Families and yapping dogs were splashing around, bobbing along beside the swans (this part of the river is only around 6 ft deep) and the day felt equal parts nostalgic to me, and equal parts, surreal.
The trip transported me right back to my carefree childhood days spent outdoors rustling up adventures in the teeny town of Ilkley by the River Wharfe; it also made me feel as if I was part of the old school ‘This is Your Life’ programme (remember that?) as the Tour Guide mentioned all the spots we frequent every day here. ‘Over there is Bachelor’s Acre where children like to run through the waterfalls’ noted the tour guide. Yes, my children, every day!
We revelled in being pretend tourists in Windsor for the day (you admittedly feel a little stupidly smug at knowing about the city first-hand than the person on the bus next to you) and seeing the place through the eyes of a visitor, doubled my appreciation for Windsor and Eton where my youngest goes to school. We often say that living here feels like being on holiday but anywhere, however pretty because the norm everyday. Yesterday reminded me quite how special Windsor, is and how lucky we are to live here.
I strongly recommend a trip on the bus turned boat, and food at the Royal Windsor gastro pub for tourists and locals, alike. It was a Pinterest-perfect gastro haven. Just look at the pics. Swoon.
And the kids even got off my phone when they spotted the colouring-in on the back of the Kids’ Menu!
So what did we eat?
Me: the Royal Windsor Rhubarb & Blackberry Gin to kick off proceedings (served with Franklin and Son’s Sicilian lemon tonic and garnished with lemonthyme, blackberry and candied rhubarb in quite frankly my FAVOURITE COCKTAIL OF ALL TIME (brewed in their own distillery in London no less). It was more a work of art than a drink but tasted as good as it looked. Fruity and floral, it was summer in a glass. I’d return to the place on that drink alone.
Main: A mammoth vegetarian platter for me as I’m veggie, bursting with crispy hallumi fries, creamy Buffalo Mozzarella, artichoke hearts, marinated Kalamata olives and a seasonal salad. (Peter greedily shared this with me along with his main course and polished the crusty bread I didn’t eat). Next up, it was a tangy limoncello cheesecake (I don’t eat gluten so the kids gobbled the biscuit base and proclaimed it ‘yummy’. The caramel tequila shot that wonderful host, Kez, brought us to finish the feast with, was created in the pub’s distillery and tasted heavenly. Dangerously so. I could have had 3 in a row without blinking! I’ll def be back for a girl’s night out there!
Peter: the Royal Windsor Clementine & Rosemary Gin served with Franklin and Son’s Indian tonic and garnished with rosemary and flamed clementine zest which tasted pleasingly festive with juniper berries and sharp, citrus notes. Starter: refreshing avocado and crayfish salad (his words here by the way, as I don’t eat meat or fish) followed by a creamy pan-seared Hake with sugar snap peas for Mains and a gooey chocolate brownie with salted caramel ice cream (homemade, as with everything there) with a shot of Nutella Cognac on the side, to end.
Kids: Crudites of carrots and cucumber sticks with cream cheese they got stuck into (Mama helped them out with the cream cheese they couldn’t finish which is a good thing as proves portions are not small there). Bolognese for Oliver and Napoli pasta for vegetarian Alexander which were both duly inhaled in minutes. Big (little) thumbs up. Then it was homemade vanilla and chocolate ice cream-I also sampled for the review’s sake (yeah, right) 😉 which was thick and creamy but thankfully not overly sweet.
The decor is a dream there. I actually want to move in. Soft pink velvet couches at the front, gilded mirrors behind the bar with monochrome tiling in the bathroom, not forgetting a beer garden to enjoy aforementioned cocktails or craft beers in under red umbrellas and potted flowers. There boys loved the vintage style bike boasting flowers by our table when we moved outside for desserts.
This place is a jewel in Windsor’s regal crown. We can’t wait to go back.
You can watch the little film I made of the day, too!
Thank you for the invite guys.
The pub and Duck Tours are offering regular family packages kicking off with a special Halloween Tour on October 31st.
These experiences were in return for the honest review you see here.
Excitingly, you can win a lunch and tour package including the Royal Set Lunch, Kids menu and round of drinks along with the Duck Tour for 2 adults and 2 children.
Ends 23rd of Oct 2019.
No cash alternative
No transport or accommodation to Windsor and return covered.