Monkey Island Hotel: A Relaxing Retreat on the Thames

ByAndrea Thompson

October 15, 2023

In reconstructing the City of London after the Great Fire in 1666, rubble was dumped from barges onto small islands raising it above flood level and creating a suitable base for building.

These tiny pockets of land are called eyots or aits which basically mean small islands of rivers and there are now around 180 islands along the river Thames.

This 5-star hotel located near Bray is rich in history dating back to the 18th century, when it was commissioned as a fishing retreat by the Duke of Marlborough. Since then, it has been frequented by monarchs, aristocrats, artists, writers and now as an escape from the stress of the city for travellers.

The hotel is made up of two grade I listed heritage White pavilions designed by Robert Morris, which have been beautifully restored and renovated by Champalimaud Design. With 41 guestrooms and suites, some of which include balconies with views of the river, cosy fireplaces, and antique furniture. The rooms are equipped with all the usual amenities, minibar, flat-screen TV, and complimentary Aromatherapy Associates toiletries.

The Wedgewood suite still has the original plasterwork ceiling, depicting shells, mermaids, and dolphins, and above the mantlepiece is a reproduction portrait of the Duke of Marlborough at Monkey Island.

The island is named after the monkeys that were brought to the island by the Duke of Marlborough, and you can find monkey sculptures, paintings, and carvings throughout the hotel and the seven acres of landscaped gardens. The hotel even boasts its own historian and book called “Monkey Island: A History”.

There are no vehicles allowed on the island but there is a car park on the mainland, and you walk over the footbridge which was first constructed in 1956.

Because no building works are allowed on the island, the hotel converted a boat into a floating spa and fitness centre. The restaurant, called Leaf, serves British dishes with a modern twist, using locally sourced ingredients. The hotel also keeps its own chicken and bees. The bar, obviously called “Monkey Bar”, has a cosy and intimate atmosphere, with fireplace, library, and piano.

The hotel is conveniently located near Windsor just over an hour’s train ride from London. It offers free parking and airport transportation, making it easy to get to and from the hotel.