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!
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!
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