May 21 2013 Latest news:
Monday, November 21, 2011
Mark Nicholls checks in to the historic Christopher Hotel in Eton for a family mini-break of castles, river cruises and Lego.
Ask any adult what they love about Eton and Windsor and they’ll talk about the quaint alleys with bars and restaurants, the river scene and boat trips set against the backdrop of a stunning royal castle.
Put the same question to children and, without hesitation, they’ll reply: “It’s near Legoland!”
All things considered, that goes a long way towards making Eton and Windsor a perfect family location for a mini break.
Add a hotel that caters for children and families into the equation – particularly one that offers great deals on Legoland admission as part of the package – and the attraction starts to become irresistible.
We checked in to The Christopher Hotel, a former coaching inn on Eton High Street, and found it an ideal place to stay, set quietly apart – albeit it only by a short walk – from Windsor across the Thames.
That walk, however, is one of the attractions. Walking along Eton High Street towards the Thames and the magnificent facade of Windsor Castle is quintessential English scene.
From the iconic architecture of Eton College, the walk takes you past pubs and bars, intriguing multi-cultural restaurants, art galleries and antique shops towards the old Windsor town bridge.
Beyond is the magnificence of the castle and the dominating round tower, with the constant activity of the river with swans, geese, rowers and river trip boats in the foreground.
A visit to Windsor is not complete without a tour of the castle with its incredible treasures and states rooms, the moat gardens, the massive Queen Mary’s Dolls House and also the spectacle of the changing of the guard at 11am. Reaching out from there, Windsor has hidden lanes, a covered market and atmospheric alleys surrounding the castle precincts to explore.
After enjoying a tour of the castle, an open-top bus tour of Windsor and spending a summer evening floating along the river aboard one of French Brothers’ vessels from the pedestrianised town bridge up to Windsor racecourse and back – past a few celebrity mansions – we retreated to The Christopher to enjoy a drink in the bar and then dine in the hotel’s restaurant.
The Grill has quite a following locally, a consequence of its popular menus which offer British cuisine, with subtle hints of international flavours.
Julia White, sales manager at The Christopher, said: “We see ourselves as a small boutique hotel with 34 rooms with a mixture of deluxe singles, double rooms, superior double rooms and junior suites and tend to be more for families, although there is some corporate business.
“We accommodate families with Windsor Caste or Legoland package breaks but there are also a lot of other things to do in the Eton and Windsor area with river trips and shops.”
Day two had already been planned by the children – not so much where to go but what rides and attractions to enjoy at Legoland. It is a short drive from Eton but another option is to catch a bus from the castle walls right to the main entrance.
As theme parks go, it has something for children of all ages with roller-coaster rides, the new Atlantic Submarine Voyage, the Lego miniland landscape, adventurous journeys through worlds of pirates, Vikings and dinosaurs – where there’s a good chance you will get a soaking on a water ride along the way, a train, driving and boating schools, a pirate stunt show and numerous other rides and activities – far more to take in than possible in one day visit.
Fortunately, Legoland packages through The Christopher Hotel come with two-day passes.
The Christopher Hotel is at 110 High Street, Eton, Berkshire, SL4 6AN. A Legoland package, which includes one night’s accommodation and a two-day family pass for two adults and two children in a junior suite starts from £322. Room-only prices start from £154, based on double occupancy. For more information telephone 01753 852359 or visit www.thechristopher.co.uk
Legoland – www.legoland.co.uk
Windsor visitor information – www.windsor.gov.uk
Windsor Castle – www.royalcollection.org.uk