~CC Travels A Lot: Henley-on-Thames, England~


What's up guys and gals?! I recently went on a 6 week long trip to England, where my mom and I road tripped it across the country. I'll be featuring some of my favorite places here on the blog (and on my Youtube Chanel soon, so keep your peepers peeled for those vids!), and first up on the list is my new favorite city, Henley-on-Thames. Scroll down to read about the city, it's hotels, food, and all of it's most wonderful bits! (PS: Want to see another side of Henley? Check out my Behind Closed Doors blog!)


(A View of the river Thames from the one lane wide bridge as you enter the town of Henley-on-Thames)

About the City


(A view from the opposite side of the river Thames at sunset, looking at the town of Henley-on-Thames)

Alright, here are some quick hitting facts before we get to the meat and potatoes (literally, lol) of this blog!

Henley-on-Thames

County: Oxfordshire

Population: ~12,000

Distance to the center of London: ~37 miles

Age: 839 years, first mentioned by King Henry II in 1179 (that's 597 years older than the United States, for reference!)

Henley-on-Thames, situated on the border of Oxfordshire, is a cozy, but vibrant, English town with just under 12,000 inhabitants. To any American this may seem like a town that is "too small" to be any fun, (and coming from Los Angeles, a county with roughly 14 million people in it, that was my fear as well), but I can assure you that it's absolutely fantastic! In fact, this town has more hustle and bustle than most of the American cities I've been to. And when people tell you this town is riverside, they're not kidding! The best walking paths are directly along the Thames (pronounced 'tehms' for my Americans reading this!) and you can follow those paths all the way into the ajoining towns.

A Few of My Favorite Things:

  • There is something happening in the town center AT LEAST once a week. While I was there I saw a popup market with people selling fresh produce and clothes, a phenominal french market, and a week long book festival!

  • There are dozens and dozens of independent shops and stores, as well as a few more high street (i.e. 'recognizable') shops, so there's plenty of shopping!

  • The amount of walking and parks and places to explore are seemingly endless and breathtaking. It's a gorgeous place!

  • The fact that there are dozens of restaurants I haven't even tried yet, even though I've been there so many times!! Not to mention the chocolate cafe, which I absolutely HAVE to go to! Long story short, I'm definitely going back!

  • All of the basics are there, a Boots (which is like an American CVS or Walgreens) for all of your "I forgot to pack this" needs, a Starbucks, and a Waitrose (which is a UK grocery store chain) for all of your "I'm on the wrong schedule and I need yummy food to take back to my room" needs!

  • It's GREAT for bloggers. I feel like I'm giving away a trade secret, as not many bloggers photograph here, but boy oh boy is this place photographable!

Hotels

During the 6 week trip, my mom and I went back to Henley a total of 5 times. Because of that, we stayed in quite a few hotels, but I'll only mention the ones in the actual town, and not the ones outside it.


(The Red Lion Hotel in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire)

The Red Lion

Trip Advisor Rating: 3/5

CC Rating: 2/5

Would I Stay Here Again? No, and here's why...

Parking: The Red Lion is a large, red brick building, and the first building on the right as you cross the Thames River into the town. Because the town is so small, it's full of one way streets, so you have to go down the main street, take a right on Bell Street, take another right, and then a right AGAIN to get into the parking lot (tourists take note: in the UK, they call a parking lot a "car park."). This is a slight inconvenience, but as far as parking goes in the UK, it's really not that bad.

The Rooms: The building is SO pretty and pictureque, but the hotel itself sees A LOT of wear and tear, especially during the festival and Regatta season, so the rooms are VERY run down. The building is very old, as are a lot of buildings in England, so I never deduct points for curving walls and sloped floors, but what I do deduct points for are things like the carpet being patched together with duct tape, the world's loudest bathroom fan, and a 6 inch screen TV from 1982. It's actually quite sad that the rooms are in such a disrepair, as the building has the potential to be so lovely! Another American tourist note, this room, and many rooms we stayed in, didn't have air conditioning, just a very loud standing fan, so for those of you who are used to central air conditioning, prepare yourselves for that!

The Food: We didn't get a chance to eat at the restaurants because they have a very limited window of time when they actually serve food. This is common thing for smaller towns, and actually something we struggled with this whole trip!

(MOM NOTE! Mom tells me she'd stay here again just for the view, so if you love the look of this place as much as she does, you can overlook some of the little things and enjoy the big picture!)

Summary: Beautiful, historical building, with old rooms in need of some serious updating. Won't be staying here again.


(One of the gorgeous houses with a picturesque view of the river Thames)

Milsoms Hotel/ Loch Fyne Hotels

Trip Advisor Rating: 3.5/5

CC Rating: 3.9/5

Would I Stay Here Again? Yes! And here's why...

Parking: This is the one downside to this hotel, because it's situated on the main street in the center of town, there's no parking to speak of, so you have to park in a pay-to-park lot across the town square and the street, then carry your bags back to the hotel. The pay-to-park lot can get a bit pricey (still NO WHERE as bad as London) but do remember to add that to your budget if you plan to travel to the UK.

Check-in: The hotel rooms are above the Loch Fyne Seafood Restaurant, so when you go to check in, you do it at the bar in the front of the restaurant, not in the "hotel check in" area where you'd expect. Answering this question before you even ask it - thankfully, no, the rooms do NOT smell like seafood!

The Rooms: We had a room on the top floor, and though there were no elevators (American tourist note: Elevators are called "lifts" in the UK), the hike up the several flights of stairs was worth it, because the room was LOVELY! It was freshly painted, had modern, chic decor, and though it still had the characteristic sloping floor and curved walls of an old building, it was charming, this time, rather than alarming. There was virtually no street noise, even with the Henely book fair happening right outside our window in the town center below. It was definitely relaxing and I didn't want to leave!

The Food: We didn't eat at the restaurant in this hotel, but this time it was because mom has a seafood allergy! However the reviews of this place are great and everyone recommends it!

Summary: Town center hotel with pricey parking and goreous rooms, above a highly rated seafood restaurant. DEFINITELY staying here again!

Food


(The charcuterie platter from Cafe Rouge, Henley-on-Thames)

People always talk smack about the food in England, but if you know where to go and what to order, then you can actually get some pretty decent meals!

Cafe Rouge

Trip Advisor Rating: 4/5

CC Rating: 4/5

Food Style: French

Would I Eat Here Again? Yes, and here's why!

This French cafe quickly became a favorite of mine, and we visited it several times throughout our stay. It's decor is funky and quirky, but still warm and welcoming. The food is simple, clean, and delicious and the prices are very fair! I had everything from the charcuterie platter to the escargot and I can definitely recommend it all!


(Across the road from the Angel on the Bridge is this building covered in wisteria and other flowers)

The Angel On The Bridge

Trip Advisor Rating: 3.5/5

CC Rating: 4/5

Food Style: Pub

Would I Eat Here Again? Yes, and here's why!

Since I described The Red Lion hotel as "the first one on the right" as you enter the town, I'll describe The Angel on The Bridge as "the first one on the left." This multi-story white pub with riverside seating displays the architectural style that defines Henley and the towns around it. It serves really hearty pub food with what I would describe as "man sized" portions (i.e. too big for me) but the food was great! Good, classic pub food at a good, classic pub! My only complaint was that the steak and ale pie (my favorite) was sold out before I got there. Oh well, guess that means I have to go back! Haha!


(The door to The Bull on Bell Street)

The Bull on Bell Street

Trip Advisor Rating: 4/5

CC Rating: 4/5

Food Style: Modern English

Would I Eat Here Again? YES! and Here's why...

Mom's just reminded me of this fantastic, beautifully decorated place on Bell Street where we had a classic Sunday roast. The food here is REALLY top notch and it was so hard to pick what to eat, as everything everyone was ordering looked great. It's door (pictured above) was featured in my "Behind Closed Doors" blog. Honestly I wish we would have discovered this place sooner!

The Catherine Wheel Restaurant

Trip Advisor Rating: 3.5/5

CC Rating: 3/5

Food Style: It's food, and it's edible!

Would I Eat Here Again? Meh...

I should call this section "An American's Introduction to Wetherspoons." Wetherspoons was a UK chain opened in the mid 1970s, and they all have roughly the same menu, which consists of some burgers, some classics (fish 'n chips, a passable steak and ale pie, etc.), but nothing groundbreaking. You walk in, find a free table, decide what you want to order, go up to the bar and order your food and tell them your table number (it's on a little brass plaque imbedded into your table), and sit back down. For the tourists out there, the restaurants don't necissarily advertise as a Wetherspoons, so a great way to tell if you're walking into a mom and pop place or a chain is to look for the numbers on the tables - every one of them has them. It's a bit like the English version of a Denny's, some are alright, some are terrible, but it's technically food, and it'll do in a pinch.

The Argyll Pub & Kitchen

Trip Advisor Rating: 4/5

CC Rating: 2/5

Food Style: Pub

Would I Eat Here Again? No, and here's why...

The Argyll Pub and Kitchen is famous for being the set for two episodes of the aclaimed british murder mystery series Midsomer Murders (one of mom's favorite shows) so of course we had to eat there! We went once and it was completely booked, so we went back a second time for lunch. Unfortunately the food failed to impress. I had a VERY chewy steak and ale pie and mom had some...chicken thing, which we ended up pushing around our plates. I filled up with some dessert which was quite good, but with all of the other restaurants in Henley that we didn't get to try, I don't think we'll be running back here any time soon. (American tourists take note: every dessert in England is called a "pudding," and if you want american pudding, you have to ask for custard!)


(The River Boat "Doris" on the river Thames at sunset)

Overall, the town of Henley-on-Thames is BEAUTIFUL and I would highly recommend visiting it. Go for long walks, visit the shops, breathe in the fresh air! This is one of my favorite towns, and I will 100% be coming back here again and again!

Thanks for reading! There will be more posts like this in the future as I travel around the world in 2018!

~CC~

#food #foodreview #review #travelreview #travelblogger #travelblog #uk #england #henleyonthames #henleyonthames #riverside #vacationdestination #travelgoals #tripadvisor #whattoeat #whattoeatinengland #englishfood #hotelhell #ccmasonrlly #wheretostay #countryside #englishtown #englishpub