Brimming with elegance from the boudoirs to the breakfast table, The Relais Henley offers a sophisticated meets sumptuous weekend stay in the very heart of Henley-On-Thames. From its kingsize beds to a brand new bicycle experience, editor Sophie Ritchie shares more about this haven of nautical-led luxury…
Specialising in suaveness without the snobbery, The Relais Henley is a 16th-century coaching inn turned modern waterside stay. Steeped in regal history and brimming with elegance from the boudoirs to the breakfast table, this beautiful 40-room boutique hotel is ideal for a weekend getaway by Henley’s adagio-paced river, especially for those with a penchant for classic British luxury.
Nautical inspiration is woven throughout te rooms here, with interiors carefully designed to encapsulate the essence of Henley’s rowing and boating traditions. Find navy blue shades cleverly intertwined into everything from the carpet and cushions to the mugs’ rims and hand-picked furniture – even the room keys come with a white and blue rope-like key chain.
All aboard – especially when it comes to the illy coffee machines and huge, Kingsize beds that provide a night of comfort for even the most restless of sleepers (and sailors). Step into the marble-clad bathrooms for a dose of modernity and make sure to set aside time for testing out the ALGOTHERM toiletries, a Brittany-based brand inspired by the ocean and Algotherapy.
Heritage Room categories range from the 285 sq. ft. Heritage King to the Heritage Four Poster rooms, which are slightly smaller (a ‘mere’ 230 sq. ft.) but make up for space with the lavish addition of four-poster beds and carved wood armoires. You know what they say after all – good things come in Four Poster packages.
For those seeking something both archaic and elegant, splash out on a Royal Regatta room – located on the front corner of the hotel with double aspect views over the River Thames and Henley. These grand abodes feature gorgeous pieces of antique furniture from the hotel’s past, as well as a carved wood armoire to complement the architectural features of high ceiling beams.
For travelers seeking truly crème de la crème views, book one of the Riverside Rooms – found on the first and second floors with interiors that draw inspiration from the realms of vintage yachts. Peer out of the windows and don’t be surprised if you spot the real deal sailing past – the flowing Thames waters constantly teem with an array of boats meandering by, even out of Regatta season.
As well as the hotel’s Heritage and Riverside rooms, guests can also book several cozy Courtyard Rooms – which, being located at garden level, are perfect for guests looking for a wheelchair-friendly room that doesn’t require compromising on either style or comfort.
What to Do
1 Cruise around Henley via classic bicycle
Grab life by the gears – The Relais Henley has recently launched a brand new cycling experience, with four blue branded bicycles ready to hire for a day of exploring. Complete with adorable baskets, explore the nearby paths and see where your legs take you. With several routes to follow, we recommend heading across Henley Bridge and following the route along the water until you reach the fairytale-like Temple Island, which provides the perfect picnic backdrop for a spot of lunch by the river. Prices from £5.00pp per hour, find out more via therelaisretreats.com
2 Pore over prose for The Henley Literary Festival
One for the literary lovers! Mark for your diary for The Henley Literary Festival, the UK’s biggest book festival taking place this October. Hosted in Phyllis Court, the book-filled fest will be returning with an impressive lineup of events and authors, including the incredible Floella Benjamin, Anton Du Beke and Paterson Joseph, to name just a handful of talented attendees. Saturday 1st – Sunday 9th October 2022, find out more via henleyliteraryfestival.co.uk
With a name inspired by a mid-19th-century merchant sailing vessel, main meals are served in The Clipper Restaurant, a charming venue offering elegant all-day dining from dawn to dusk, with a wide range of menus designed by Mosimann’s of London, one of the world’s most prestigious private dining clubs.
Both the food and friendly staff have an easy-going feel despite the swish surroundings – dishes range from the likes of delicious Citrus Cured Salmon and Grilled Asparagus for starters with Seafood Linguini, Baked Aubergine and Ratatouille Lasagne and mouth-watering Spiced Bean Burger for mains, aiming to cater for every appetite. On warmer days, take to the pergola and raise a fork in the beautiful courtyard, where the covered pergola provides a quaint and charming backdrop at any time of day.
As well as several petite bars that beckon for a nightcap, The Relais Henley’s culinary options also include The Deli – a delightful charming counter where foodies can find gourmet grab-and-go sandwiches, fresh pastries, hefty slabs of cake, speciality coffee and chilled soft drinks. Picnic by the water, anyone?
The Wordrobe Verdict
Specialising in suaveness without the snobbery, The Relais Henley brims with elegance from the boudoirs to the breakfast table. The chatty staff will have you feeling at ease in no time, whilst the beautifully classic surroundings will leave you ready to drop an anchor until seconds to check-out.
Make it happen
Where: Hart St, Henley-on-Thames RG9 2AR
How: Find out more and make a booking via therelaisretreats.com
Words by Sophie Ritchie, editor