Hotel Review: MacDonald Compleat Angler, Marlow in Buckinghamshire
With Marlow bridge to one side, the weir to the other, a church opposite and the Thames peacefully trickling past, the 4 star Macdonald Compleat Angler doesn’t need to do much else to attract, but it certainly does!
Try not one, but two, award-winning restaurants on site, numerous event rooms just ready and waiting to host the function of your life, a classic bar, pop up Champagne and oyster bar and 64 rooms and suites to retire to after all the excitement.
The 400 year old hotel is as best placed as you can get and the flat gardens and pretty trees make for a nice welcome. It is all extremely picturesque, as is Marlow itself – I don’t think you could ask for a better location.
We spent a couple of hours in the stylish Walton bar upon arrival waiting for our room to be cleaned. We were kindly offered a complimentary drink so we gratefully accepted and relaxed into our stay with a gin and tonic for me and a beer for Nick – a mere taster of the wide range of drinks on offer. There are 20 cocktails, an equal number of gins and even more whiskeys, among other drinks to sip upon.
The bar menu had some appetising dishes on there with starters (£6), mains (£14/15), salads at £10 and desserts at £5 to include haggis bon bons with highland whiskey mayo or chicken and leek pie with chantenay carrots and peas.
The classically styled oak-panelled room is seeping with centuries of history. It has welcomed guests such as T.S Eliot and F. Scott Fitzgerald and is named after Issak Walton, who wrote the famous book, ‘The Compleat Angler.’ It proved to be a very relaxed place with a nice atmosphere with low lighting, low, comfy tub chairs and dark brown leather seating.
You can certainly see that it is set up for events. There are 5 dedicated event spaces to host boardroom style meetings for 14 to a drinks reception for 180 and plenty of benefits such as a Smartboard, LCD projector, a licence for civil ceremonies and that award-winning food to sample.
My only gripe during my stay was that we were waiting 2 hours after check in time to allow for the room to be cleaned due to late check outs – not too bad if you don’t have a one night stay – but when we asked if we could have a late check out the next morning, a one hour delay, I was told no as there were wedding guests arriving. I have to say though that the food we enjoyed at resident restaurant, Sindhu and our lovely room made up for it.
With a 3 AA rosette and a 2 AA awarded restaurant along with the stylish Walton bar and lounge, you really are spoilt for choice.
The aptly named Riverside Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner and is quintessentially British with creative offerings such as beef tartar with dehydrated yolk, parmesan and ale tapioca cracker; lamb Wellington with sweetbread and smoked mash; or pineapple tarte tatin with honeycomb ice cream. The elegant room is awash with windows and also has an outdoor terrace so that you can make the most of the riverside view. Dark painted beams match the tables and chairs, while light walls and pale browns or flashes of deep red help to keep the room sophisticated. A la carte starters are around £10, mains range from £22 to £28 and desserts will cost you £7, £13 for cheeses.
Breakfast was served here and I opted for buttermilk pancakes with crisp cured bacon and maple syrup, while Nick went for boiled eggs with soldiers. There were plenty of juices, fruits, Danishes, cheeses, cold meats and cereals on the continental buffet, and hot items included porridge with a selection of toppings, the full Macdonald meat or vegetarian breakfast, Eggs Benedict, Royale or Florentine, grilled kippers or smoked haddock. Honestly we were still quite full from the delights at Sindhu the night before but we did our best at breakfast!
Speaking of which we enjoyed a faultless dinner at Sindhu – Atul Kochhar’s 2 AA Rosette holding Indian restaurant during our stay. Nick and I are big Indian food lovers and a week doesn’t pass where we don’t sample the flavoursome cuisine. We tucked into the tasting menu and loved the variety of meats, flavours and texture on each dish. You can read my full thoughts here.
The room was spacious and styled in a classic, yet simple, fashion. The walls were an off-white, while deep reds in the bedspread and desk chair and minty greens on the curtains and armchairs added colour – it sounds like it wouldn’t match but it did. The furniture (bedside tables, desk, small table and TV cabinet, which contains the mini bar) were all dark wood and Nick was pleased that there was a mirror next to a socket, for hairstyling purposes! Upon arrival to the room we were welcomed with a bottle of Prosecco on ice and some chocolates. The large window and patio doors led to a balcony, which had a couple of seats, and the view of the flat gardens and weir beyond got a ‘wow’ from us both.
You can tell the bathroom has not long been refurbished. Covered in off-white tiles the spacious room held a separate shower, bath and, my favourite – 2 sinks! – and it had a shelf running the length of the room underneath the plentiful mirrors – perfect for storing our bathroom belongings. Underfloor heating added to the luxury, while other features of our room included air conditioning, high speed internet, robes, slippers, tea making items, a safe and an espresso machine. The bed was really big and comfortable, I sunk in and slept very well that night.
GETTING THERE – TRAIN
I was always more of a road trip sort of person – tunes on loud, excited for the long journey ahead but in recent years I’ve discovered that, though the journey is part of the whole trip, it can be improved upon and this is where the train comes in. Train travel trumps car easily, no more waiting just that bit longer for a loo break or being so hungry that you stop off at the one fast food place you don’t like because you simply can’t wait any longer or forking out a day’s wages on a cheese sandwich. No more desperately needing to stretch your leg, back, knee, anything! Step in Great Western Railway first class where you can recline your wide soft leather chair and pull the curtain across for a snooze, wake up to a coffee without having to move from your seat and grab that toilet break whenever you need it (OK, you will have to move for that one).
Living in the West Country and enjoying many a trip to London or surrounding areas, Great Western Railway has always been the service to use. On a trip to Marlow I made use of the facilities and thoroughly enjoyed the calm of the first class carriage. The train left and arrived on time (in fact I think it arrived early) and the journey went without a hitch. The views are great along the south coast and there’s a good selection of food and snacks in the buffet car. I had a bacon baguette along with some complimentary hot drinks and snacks throughout. On our change at Reading we just missed out on the recently launched and upgraded Electrostar trains, which feature free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, improved toilets, at seat power sockets and more capacity and space. It’s part of an upgrade that will eventually see 45 replace most of the existing diesel trains currently operating in the Thames Valley.
IN A NUTSHELL
The Georgian town of Marlow is good for: the Thames path walk, clothes and home shops, restaurant and cafes to suit all (with plenty of Italian eateries, I noticed), boat trips and so much more. I don’t think you could pick a more suitable place from which to enjoy the relaxed and pretty place that Marlow is. The hotel encompasses great food in a sublime setting, and what better way to travel there than first class. Book me another ticket!
Address: Marlow Bridge, Bisham, Marlow SL7 1RG
Phone: 0344 879 9128