Readers and friends alike often for my suggestions when it comes to the best things to do and see in Windsor (our hometown) and Eton so I’ve written what I hope is a comprehensive blog post listing my personal recommendations here, with a focus on the town of Windsor predominantly and indie businesses where shops and restaurants are listed.
Buckle in, it’s not a short post!
If you didn’t already know, Windsor is a majestic market town surrounded by the River Thames (my youngest son’s Head Mistress affectionately refers to the place as an island) and it is of course one of the her Majesty the Queen’s official residencies, and I hear, the most favourite of all of her homes.
I still laugh about the fact a reader kindly sent me a gift a few years ago, addressing it to, ‘Honest Mum, Windsor Castle’ which managed to reach me as the postman knew my name and address thanks to my Royal Mail PO Box. So funny!
…From the minute we moved to Windsor (4 years ago in August 2021), it felt like home: a holiday home in fact, thanks to its picturesque riverside location and sunny climes (well, sunnier climes being a whole 4 degrees warmer than Yorkshire, where we lived previously).
In all honesty, we’ve never once felt bored of this vibrant yet tranquil little town and that’s despite of the global pandemic and several lockdowns we endured over the past 18 months, testament to how very special Windsor is.
So how do you get here?
Windsor is 35 minutes from Paddington (you simply catch a 5 minute train to Slough from Windsor and Eton Central Train Station then hop on to the fast train to Paddington) or you can jump on the direct train to Waterloo from the Windsor and Eton Riverside Train Station which takes less than an hour to reach its destination.
The nearest airport is Heathrow, just 15 minutes away by car.
Thanks to Windsor’s proximity to London, it’s a popular commuter town and is equally ideal for tourists wanting to see the Capital whilst being far enough away from the hustle and bustle of London, to enjoy the beautiful Berkshire countryside.
Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Below are my top picks to help you plan your break in Windsor and Eton spanning hotels, shops, tourist spots, parks and places to eat.
Please note this list is catered predominantly towards families but could equally suit couples and singles depending on taste and preferences.
I really hope you enjoy your time in Berkshire as much as we love living here.
The epitome of modern elegance in the centre of Windsor situated opposite Windsor Castle means this hotel is a popular choice amongst tourists. Boasting excellent food and decadent afternoon teas as well as regal looking yet comfortable rooms, we enjoyed a wonderful Christmas lunch there a few years back we were impressed with, which you can read about here. Friends who have visitied us all enjoyed their stay at the hotel so it comes with our seal of approval.
Sir Christopher Wren Hotel. Located in the most perfect spot overlooking Eton Bridge, connecting Windsor and Eton, has a boutique feel to it with its individually styled rooms, indoor gym and outside jacuzzi and sauna. It was the first hotel my husband Peter, and I stayed in when we visited Windsor 11 years ago and I was pregnant with my first child, Oliver. Happy memories.
The Royal Adelaide Hotel. A more budget-friendly option in town, The Royal Adelaide provides well presented rooms, a decent breakfast and super service with a smile. It’s only a short walk into the town centre with the famous Long Walk nearby.
De Vere Beaumont Estate. Situated in Old Windsor, a short drive from town, this breathtaking, historic hotel is enveloped in acres of lush countryside featuring a pond, playground, nature trail and al fresco dining outside as well as exquisite suites, drawing rooms and a top-notch restaurant and bar, inside. We’ve stayed there several times over the years and you can read my latest review, here.
WHERE TO EAT:
Enzo’s. An authentic, busy Italian restaurant on the main street in Windsor, Peascod Street, Enzo’s offers delicious family favourites with seasonal specials on the board and the tastiest Tiramisu in town! The service is second-to-none with the owners, a trio of brothers and their attentive staff always on hand to ensure you enjoy your meal and feel as happy as Larry there!
Honest Burgers: the place to go for a tasty burger, directly from the restaurant’s own eponymous butchers no less, with vegan and veggie fare on offer and their famous rosemary salted chips, makes for one heck of a joyful lunch or dinner. Located opposite Windsor Castle in an achingly cool two storey building, you will love it. Read my review in full. (Photo above).
The Royal Windsor: a traditional British gastro pub and restaurant stocking its own brewed beers and gin with an enchanting beer garden with views of the Castle, this is another local of ours we visit often. Read my latest review here.
Giggling Squid: Exquisite Thai food with an extensive and well-priced menu in stylish surroundings is perfect for an evening meal (it’s not one to rush).
Cinnamon Cafe: the place to visit for the best coffee and homemade cakes in town, and their jacket potatoes with masses of toppings always hit the spot too.
Meimo! A charming Morroccan restaurant in the heart of Windsor offering fragrant and tasty tagine dishes with veggie and vegan options and small plates too, is a must-visit for all of the family.
The place to go for breakfast, brunch or lunch, I’m obsessed with their hot goat’s cheese Chevre Salad and the kids adore their big breakfasts, pancakes, omelettes and gigantic jacket potatoes.
Don Beni. A small Berkshire chain, this Italian trattoria on High Street, Eton High provides classic Italian dishes in an authentic setting, bursting with Italian memorabilia.
Gilbey’s Restaurant & Bar. Discover impecciable fine food and service at this British/European restaurant, also on High Street, Eton, not far from the historic Eton College. Great for a lazy Sunday lunch.
Golden Curry. A favourite with locals and tourists, thanks to its sumptous food, its windows boast photos of famous fans who have visited this Indian restaurant and once you eat there, you’ll see its no surprise to see why.
Cote Brasserie. Outstanding, modern French cuisine in achingly beautiful surroundings with outdoor seating by the river if you choose to sit outside, is one of our Eton favourites. (Photo above).
Nimia. Pick up a tasty slice of cake and a hot drink in this quaint and stylish coffee shop adorned with pretty silk flowers in its window, making it unmissable on the High Street. It’s currently take-away only so why not grab a treat and take a walk around Eton, or in my case, enjoy breakfast-on-the-go from there, on the school-run!
Take a tour of Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. You can book online for visits all year round. The castle often hosts themed exhibitions to mark special occassions such as Royal Weddings so do look out for those, too. A visit provides a fascinating day out for all, and you can make a day of it if the sun’s shining with a stroll in the countryside which envelops it.
The River Thames (boat tours. rowing boats, paddling boats and The Duck Tour).
Take a boat ride of your choice down the River Thames (big or small) or hop onto the Duck Tour which is a bus that converts into a boat for a trip like no other. Go check out my review for more details.
A stroll on the famous Long Walk as mentioned above is imperative when you visit Windsor. You will no doubt recognise it from Harry and Meghan’s Post-wedding carriage procession: a tree-lined 3 mile avenue starting at the George IV Gateway at Windsor Castle and ending up at the splendid Copper Horse. Why not have a picnic on the grass or kick a ball about under the shade of the trees. Please note that scooters are bikes are not allowed there.
Over on the other side of the river in Eton, you can lounge on the banks of the River Thames in an area called The Brocas.
A perfect sunbathing spot with easy access to feed the friendly and always hungry (!) swans and ducks without the disruption of boat stops, this is an incredibly popular destination with locals, and the clear path adjacent to it, means you can walk around the river with ease and beyond from there.
The Jelly Lounge Family Club and Soft Play. Visit this super soft play in the town centre (which is suitable for children aged 0- 12) and enjoy a spot of lunch (their superfood salads are my favourite as well as their fruit smoothies and Oreo freakshakes) and what’s more, there’s lots of space for parents to work or relax in their lounge area whilst the kids can safely enjoy the play areas. The Jelly Lounge often hosts special events too from baby stalls to gaming bonanzas. Just brilliant.
LEGOLAND. Famous for its awe-inspiring and often lifesize LEGO sculptures and fun rides, this well known adventure park is a big draw for the town.
My advice is to pay for a QBOT pass to jump the queues if you’re visiting on a weekend or during the busy holiday periods otherwise be prepared for long waiting times that will eat into your day. The food isn’t the best there either so try fill up before you go or bring snacks!
The Savill Garden is an enclosed part of the Windsor Great Park, created in the 30s by Sir Eric Savill and now managed by the Crown Estate.
The gardens are split into two areas: one which requires an entrance fee (the designed gardens area) and another which is free (you must pay for parking on site when visiting either, though). There you will find fairytale-style woodland, sparkling streams, expansive playgrounds and an ornamental lake that is more Lake Garda than Englefield Green. Dreamy.
Formely home of the Astor family, you will find heavenly rose and water gardens there as well as a manicured maze to wander around in and the famous Cliveden House Hotel is of course on-site.
With cafes, restaurants, outdoor areas for al fresco dining and picnic spots on the river banks with an option of a boat ride too, this is our go-to place in Berkshire and we’ve lost count of how many times we’ve visited both the National Trust park area and the hotel.
If you fancy a decadent break, dinner, afternoon tea or spa day at the Cliveden House Hotel (all of which I’ve tried and reviewed, do check out their website).
You can read about our private dining Christmas experience there, here.
Black Park (Wexham) another one that is approximately a 15 minute drive from Windsor features 500 acres of wood and heathland as well as a Go Ape adventure play area with playgrounds too.
Alexandra Gardens is perfect for kicking a ball around, playing tennis in its nearby courts or trying your hand at mini golf on its peripheries. A fairground also features all year long with ice skating available during the winter months.
A central playground with a small football field and benches to rest on as well as a cafe/ ice cream shop, this is our most frequented park in Windsor. It also hosts The Windsor Lady statue of Her Majesty The Queen with her beloved Corgis, sculpted by local artist Lydia Karpinska and was installed in the park as part of the Diamond Jubilee Year celebrations. Children delight in sitting by it and it’s a favourite with tourists who want to snap a pic there for their social media feeds.
A much-loved park for locals like us, this enchanting playground includes a vast wooden playboat as well as slides and swings and all the bells and whistles expected of a playground, all within a huge sandy area bringing the beach (kind of) to Windsor.
It also boasts grand football fields, table tennis tables and tennis courts but do bring your own bats, rackets and balls. There’s also an on-site cafe and lots of shops and take aways on Dedworth Road beside it with plenty of space to picnic there.
With the most incredible view of Windsor Castle at its far end and a dedicated path for cyclists (something hard to find in Windsor and the surrounding areas) the kids love to take their bikes there and ride up and down the long mostly car-free care-free path there. There is also somewhat of a sunken playground at the bottom of the hill and ample adjacent parking which helps takes the stress out of a day out with kids. A must-visit if you’re a sporty family.
A department store of dreams, Daniel of Windsor (Royal warrant and all) has everything you could want or need from home furnishings to designer clothes and toys galore. Their top floor is a haven for children young and old and there are several cafes and restaurants as well as a YO! Sushi within it too.
With a furniture store, and sister gift and clothes shop of the same name opposite, this small brand houses thoughtful, beautifully made and long-lasting pieces. My pink garden bench and variety of tassled and embroided sofa cushions come from there, and the gift shop is the first place I visit for cards and presents (their candle collection is unbeatable). Do make a trip and take several shopping bags with you!
You simply cannot come to Windsor without trying its finest fudge. With vegan options and a fudge kitchen (unsurprisingly) at the back of the store, this place is an utter delight (they also offer free samples so you can try before you buy).
An antiquarian bookshop with hundreds of antiquarian and secondhand books as well as 100+ year old prints, this is part museum, part shop on the famous High Street in Eton. Don’t leave the area without a visit.
Established in 73, also on High Street, Eton, in an eighteenth century townhouse, go seek antique treasures and contemporary pieces to take home with you from this Aladdin’s cave. The shop can also provide upholsterers, furniture restorers and curtain makers if you require their services.
Tastes Delicatessen. An independent fine foods deli stocking local favourites (the Eton honey is superb) as well as dips, salads and pastries fromt their counters, it’s perfect for a quick bite to eat, and or to pick up culinary gifts for loved ones. Fab!
So there we have it, just a few recommendations for you, as there is so much to do, see and consume in the area.
Do let me know if you visit Berkshire, won’t you!
Have fun x
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