On May 19, two people will marry each other while the whole world watches. In case your invitation to Prince Harry of Wales and Meghan Markle’s big day in Windsor has gotten lost, here’s what to do if you’d be keen to plan your own nuptials-free trip to Berkshire (which is just an hour and a half’s drive from London):
If it weren’t for its namesake college, Eton would most likely be lost among Berkshire’s flurry of wonderfully pretty but overall anonymous British villages. But being home to “the most famous public school in the world” — having educated people such as explorer Sir Humphrey Gilbert, economist John Maynard Keynes, many U.K. Prime Ministers as well as the two current Princes — gives Eton the air of Windsor’s distinguished little sister. Immediately to the north of River Thames, it’s a charming little community with only one high street — but what a high street it is, lined with first-rate restaurant Côte Brasserie, art galleries and antique shops piled high with curiosities and rarities. Make sure you also explore Eton Walkway, a three-kilometre circular walk connecting 18 points of interest, starting at Windsor Bridge and celebrating Eton’s rich heritage throughout. windsor.gov.uk/eton
Sir Christopher Wren Hotel & Spa
Sir Christopher Wren’s cluster of structures are scattered around the Thames’ riverbank, overlooking Eton’s spires on the other side of the water. As far as Windsor hotel locations go, it doesn’t get any better than this: right outside the front door awaits Windsor Bridge, which leads to Eton, and it only takes a few minutes to stroll to pedestrian Peascod Street and Windsor Castle. There are good reasons to spend time within the hotel, too, including the outdoor hot tub, spa, and well-preserved drawing rooms and salons. Hotel restaurant The Brasserie is decent, but I recommend walking over to The Boatman. It’s one of Windsor’s oldest pubs, and serves an Eton Mess (the traditional English dessert consisting of strawberries, broken meringue and whipped double cream) so mighty it’s become legendary. sirchristopherwren.co.uk
Lovers of the great outdoors, this one is for you! These days, ginormous Windsor Great Park (2,020 hectares / 5,000 acres) is open to the public, but for hundreds and hundreds of years it was Windsor Castle’s private hunting grounds — and that royal connection is still strong, with each twisting pathway promising a journey through England’s history. You’ll also feel some of that visiting magnificent Coworth Park on the Great Park’s outskirts. This hotel, with its own expansive land, offers guests a veritable smorgasbord of activities: tennis, golf, boating, hiking, running, polo, and riding, in wilderness-like surroundings. It’s hard to believe London is only an hour away! Coworth Park is also home to Berkshire’s fanciest spa with treatments that feel unquestionably British (think: an English Rose Body Wrap). dorchestercollection.com
If walls could talk, Cliveden House would spill the beans on 350 years of opulence.