The 4* Macdonald Compleat Angler is a charming old-world hotel in a perfect location by the River Thames at Marlow. The gardens, terrace bar, restaurant and riverside rooms all have spectacular views, in one direction across the weir and over a huge sweeping curve of the river to the countryside beyond and in the other, upstream to the impressive All Saints Church and historic suspension Bridge into town. I visited the Macdonald Compleat Angler for a one-night stay, wanting to get out of the city into the relative countryside and add to my Kochhar repertoire (more of this below), delighted that I could dine in comfortable luxury and, then, full and merry amble up to bed to equally sophisticated comfort. I drove the should-have-been-hour from London – the train would have been a better bet. It really is the ideal spot for a weekend getaway, with the gorgeous high street full of up-market shops and boutiques, the fabulous food and idyllic Buckinghamshire setting.
The hotel is designed to be seen from the bridge or across the water and really attracts the attention. Conversely, the hotel has made the most of its best feature, the unrivalled location and setting right on the water, with several outside areas for sunny lunches, evening cocktails, or all-day sitting to take in the sights and watch the boat action – perhaps even spotting an Olympian training from the next-door esteemed Marlow Rowing Club. The entrance area and reception is light and quite modern, though parts of the property date back 400 years. The corridors to the bedrooms are a little poky and it can be confusing when trying to find your room second time round, after the friendly staff have lead the way on arrival. However, if the staircases are disorientating, squeezed into the interior of the hotel, it is because the space and views have been reserved for the bedrooms, the dining room, bar and lounge. Riverside rooms are the priced at the Executive rate, though you might prefer a land-side room if you’re a light sleeper and want the windows open. I found the rushing water a little like white noise and soothing, but it is incredibly loud. The bathrooms are more up-to-date than the intentionally old-fashioned decor in the bedrooms, with plenty of space and complete with Penhaligon’s toiletries.
You are spoiled for choice when it comes to eating in Marlow. Not only is the Buckinghamshire town home to two Michelin starred restaurants – it really is fast becoming a go-to spot for foodies – one of the hottest restaurants in the area is located inside the hotel itself, in the cosy yet stylish dining room overlooking the weir. Sindhu is two-times Michelin starred chef Atul Kochhar’s latest venture and adds something very special to the riverside hotel. It’s traditional Indian food served in a contemporary manner and is truly excellent. Sindhu is the proud owner of two AA Rosette Awards for culinary excellence, and the cocktails and views deserve similar accolades for completing the experience.
The hotel’s own Riverside Restaurant is newly refurbished and serves traditional British dishes in an idyllic, light dining room. There’s also the more relaxed Walton Bar & Lounge, named after Issak Walton who wrote the famous book on fishing “The Compleat Angler”, for simpler bar food. Breakfast was a lavish, traditional affair, with full English options of red tractor approved bacon and sausages, generous amounts of fresh fruit, good coffee and delicious pastries. On The Lawn is an al-fresco eating area set up during the warmer weather. Perfect for summer events, it is often booked out but it is a stunning location where you can eat & drink, relax and watch the river activity. A highlight of the stay was a pre-Sindhu dinner G&T on the long, sunny bar terrace that skirts the property. I spent the perfect late summer’s evening here and urge you to try it out.
Macdonald Compleat Angler