Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Windsor England

My first trip to Windsor was in October 2014 for a visit to Windsor Castle with my brother and at the urging of my friend, Renee Terry. It is now my favorite English excursion outside of London. I now add a night in Windsor to the beginning or end of every London trip.  My goal one day is to  spend three months in the summer there to escape the Texas heat. 
Windsor is an easy 45 minute trip from Heathrow airport, either by train (LHR Terminal 4 to Windsor Eton Central) or bus.  I've done both and while I spent an inordinate amount of time researching it, it's simple and easy either way. 

Stay at least one night in Windsor.  I'm a big believer in using TripAdvisor for advice on all things travel.  For lodging, on our first trip we stayed at MacDonald Windsor hotel, voted #1 and it's beautiful.  Sitting by the fireplace with an adult beverage or coffee is a nice rest spot in between shopping.  I've also stayed at Mercure (also on the High Street but a bit hard to find) too and it's good - I think they've changed the name.

We toured Windsor castle on our first trip and I really enjoyed it.  HRH the Queen was in residence and had some visitors - all very exciting.  I have to laugh because in one of the TA forums, someone asked why on earth would they place the castle below the Heathrow flight path... The line to tour the castle is not that long, be sure you aren't standing with the "tour groups" like someone did (ahem).   

Windsor is a great walking town, all the way down the High Street in both directions (go inside the Windsor Parish church, it's beautiful), and then Peascod, which is a pedestrian street with beaucoup shops. 

Near Parish church - military graveyard

Windsor has about 5 charity shops (thrift stores) and my absolute favorite (and yes, I'm willing to share it with you) is Thames Hospice on Peascod.  I found so many great linens, amazing maps and old books (Elvis and Beatles) and a vintage Monopoly game with £ money - that it warranted getting a second suitcase! 

Daniel Dept store - take a break at their coffee shop with the locals

The Daniel department store and C&H store are excellent (go on the second floor). That is where I found awesome map oilcloth (they call it PVC fabric) that I used to recover an old card table. There are several high end stores right past Peascod at the Windsor Royal Shoppes.  There's a Cath Kidston next to the MacDonald hotel and the gift shop on that corner (at Peascod) has high quality gifts and the best prices.  When you make the turn on Peascod to St. Leonard St, there are several great shops on that street including Vinegar Hill (awesome gift shop).  Go down to the fire house (beautiful!) and step in to see the fish monger.

Vinegar Hill - cute gifts

As far as meals are concerned, my favorite breakfast place is Monty's on St. Leonard.  Great food, great service and very reasonably priced.  Get a latte, you won't regret it.  Perfect place to start out before shopping.  For dinner we've been to Bill's and had a great first meal and an "okay" meal the second time.  The d├ęcor is industrial chic, Joanna Gaines would love it.  And get an Eton Mess for dessert - it's a tradition started at the University.  There is also a Patissiere Valerie, which is usually good. 

And if Windsor isn't your cup of tea, go to Hampton Court.  Fabulous tour of the house and gardens.  Great history lesson.