Just 7km from London Heathrow but a world away from your normal airport hotel is the four-star Runnymede-on-Thames.
As its name suggests, it sits on the bank of the River Thames, just outside Egham in Surrey, and looks out across the water meadows of Runnymede from the front, where King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215 that made everyone, including the king himself, subject to the law for the first time.
Right next to junction 13 of the M25 London Orbital motorway and with a car park accommodating several hundred cars, the hotel is ideal if you have a series of meetings beyond London. A taxi ride to Egham or Staines stations and you’re on a 30-minute train into London Waterloo.
The hotel is used to welcoming the business visitor – it has 21 meeting rooms, accommodating anything up to 250 people, and the lobby lounge is buzzing with one-to-one meetings on weekdays. Wi-Fi is complimentary for unlimited devices but lasts only three hours per session and needs an email address too.
Sprawling over several lush green acres, the hotel has two restaurants, a spa, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and even tennis courts.
Rooms are highly functional, if on the small side, with air conditioning, hairdryer, iron and ironing board and trouser press. Most have safes – if yours does not, you can ask for a security wallet to be stored at reception. There’s one socket by the desk and one by the bed, which could be a struggle for the more gadget-laden traveller. Breakfast is included and starts at 6.30am on weekdays.
A standard double starts at £266 (Dh1,472) per night, £282 with riverside views, and shoots up to £330 for a deluxe riverside.
With one of the river’s lock gates outside, there are watery touches everywhere, from a display of rubber ducks in reception to the boats for hire at the jetty (including a “hot tug”, the UK’s only Jacuzzi in a boat, available from May to September). Next year the hotel will add a hot tub on the jetty itself.
You can even ask the chef for bread or seeds to feed the ducks, geese and swans. And if it really is nice weather for ducks, ask for an umbrella.
Can I use a printer?
Yes, there’s a small business centre, but it’s not cheap. The two PCs are free for 15 minutes, £5 for every 15 minutes thereafter. Printing and photo-copying cost 25p per page for black and white, £1.50 per page for colour.
Is there a minibar in the room?
There is, but the hotel scrapped a full minibar service last year and it only contains complimentary sparkling and still water with more available on request.
What about the gym?
There are five running machines and three of most other gym equipment. Open until 10pm, guests can also attend studio classes although there’s only one early in the morning (usually circuits or core at 7.15am) and one after 7pm, on just three weeknights.
Is there food if I arrive late at night?
There’s a light, night-time room menu from 10pm-7am – a choice of five sandwiches, pie and vegetable lasagne, although sandwiches are a hefty £11 to £13. The Lock Bar and Kitchen downstairs offers a better menu and atmosphere is open until 11pm – although it’s closed Mondays and Saturdays.
Is that where that flooding happened last year?
The Runnymede water meadows are a flood plain and badly flooded in the heavy rains of 2014, but the only area of the hotel affected was a basement spa room – and they turned the damage to their advantage. Next year it will be reopened as a casual meeting space for hire, with a small cinema and pinball machines.
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