Exploring England

Tuesday, 28 August 2018


Alixe, the tween and I were off on an all girls adventure during the Bank Holiday. We were loaned a powerful Mini with impressive horsepower to explore England. It was my first trip to Windsor and Eton (Legoland doesn't count!) and I was keen to wander around the two towns especially after the recent Royal Wedding coverage there.

It was an easy 40 minute drive from Clapham Junction to Windsor. We made it in good time and checked into Castle Hotel Windsor which is part of the collection of MGallery by Sofitel luxury boutique hotels. The original building dates back to the mid 1500s and was once called The Mermaid Inn.  Then, in the mid-1700s, a Royal Warrant was bestowed on the dynamic innkeeper Richard Martin,
postmaster of Windsor and hackneyman to His Majesty. So The Mermaid Inn became an official posting inn and entered a new phase in its history, being renamed The Castle Inn. When the royal family decided to make Windsor Castle their principal residence, a Royal's Warrant was given to the then owner as many dignitaries would stay at the hotel. The hotel continued to supply post horses to the royal family well into the 1800s.


I was informed that Castle Hotel Windsor  is famous for their Afternoon Tea. We were lucky to nab a table in a beautiful corner with a view of the main street in Windsor.


Windsor's famous wonky house, now a jewellery store. Well, I call it The Wonky House but after a quick google, I found its actually name is "Crooked House of Windsor" and if you want to make it very proper - Market Cross House. Built in 1687, the building had housed butchers, florists, brewers, printers, architects (the irony....) and fruit sellers.


We decided to have dinner at Marco Pierre White's restaurant located inside Castle Hotel Windsor. The baked camembert with sweet and tarty roasted tomatoes was sublime. I was tempted to order a second plate after Alixe and the tween devoured my dish within minutes.


The tween was dying to have breakfast in bed so....... I complied and granted her wish.


We hung around and waited to see the changing of the guards as they marched past the hotel. Lucky for us, the hotel is located directly opposite Windsor Castle.


We decided to leave the Mini at the hotel and crossed the bridge to Eton which an easy 15 minute stroll away. Eton is a sleepy little town with the famous boarding school at the end of the street and a host of shops lining the main street.


We were back on the road again. Our next destination is Cheltenham which is only half an hour from some of the prettiest Cotswolds villages - Bibury, Bourton-on-the-Water, Burford, Lower Slaughter and Upper Slaughter to name a few.

We checked into one of the most beautiful boutique hotels I've had the privilege to stay - Queens Hotel Cheltenham.  The grand Grade II listed Georgian building was built in 1838 and has hosted a few famous guests, Roger Moore and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.


The striking 175 year old hand-painted wallpaper in the central atrium was designed by A.W Pugin. You can find the same wallpaper in the Houses of Parliament.


Each room comes equipped with its own Nespresso machine (Yes!!) which is a necessity for someone like me who's NOT a morning person.


After a quick breakfast downstairs, we checked out and continued onwards to Bibury. I couldn't resist doing a U turn when I spotted this charming looking traditional inn and pub.


I only found out last year that an illustration of Arlington Row can be seen on British passports. These picturesque cottages were originally built as a monastic wool store before being converted into weavers' cottages in the 17th century.


I swear I jinxed the weather in Bourton-on-the-Water. It pours each time I visit the village.


Alixe suggested that we take a mini break in Burford since we have to drive through the village to get back to London. I'm pleased we did because it's beautiful and definitely less touristy than the other two villages we'd visited earlier in the day.


It was a short but wonderful trip exploring some of the prettiest towns and villages of England. The road trip was definitely more fun with Alixe and the tween who were the best companions anyone could wish for.

This post is sponsored by Castle Hotel Windsor and Queens Hotel Cheltenham. In partnership with Mini BMW. All views are my own.


  1. beautiful photos! seems you had a great time!

  2. Finally, Marlene, I’ve been hoping to read a new post from you for ages. What a fantastic time you had and the photos are wonderful. Please keep the blog going!

    1. Thank you! I haven't had the opportunity to blog much these days but thank you ever so much for your kind words.

  3. So happy to see you post again. And can I just say that I went to Dubrovnik this year on a girls holiday on the back of your post about Dubrovnik, and we had an amazing time. So thank you. XX

    1. Sarah, I'm so pleased you had a great time in Dubrovnik. Did you manage to go during the off peak season? I've heard it can be horrendous during the summer months.

  4. Looks like you had an amazing time. I love my home country.

    Liz -



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