The small town of Eton in England's Berkshire County is best known as home to Eton College, the historic and exclusive boys' school attended by Princes William and Harry. Eton also sits on the north side of the River Thames, facing its larger sister city, Windsor, site of Windsor Castle, where royal family members spend many of their free weekends and regular tours are available. Though Eton has few hotels, visitors have access to other accommodations two miles across the pedestrian bridge in Windsor.
The Christopher Hotel
Located in the center of Eton in a bustle of restaurants, upscale shops and 15th-century Gothic structures, The Christopher Hotel is a former coaching inn that dates to 1711. A short nine miles from London's Heathrow Airport, The Christopher has 34 bedrooms configured in junior suites, family rooms and deluxe singles, which are decorated in keeping with its historic roots and updated to accommodate modern technology and entertainment. The 4-star (awarded by UK's national assessing board) hotel's Bar & Grille serves classic English cuisine often spiced up with an Indian or Moroccan twist. Guests can dine inside or on the garden terrace, which is kept cozy by electric heaters and special lighting. The hotel also offers 24-hour room service. Nearby attractions include UK's Legoland, Windsor Castle and Ascot Racecourse.
The Oakley Court
For those who'd appreciate a hotel with the feel of a country house, The Oakley Court offers 37 acres of landscaped gardens along the Thames and historic accommodations just across the bridge from Eton in Windsor, home to the world's largest and oldest occupied castle. The Oakley boasts wood paneled floors and ornate ornamented ceilings and 118 bedrooms -- all with air conditioning and some with four-poster beds -- in a variety of sizes, styles and views. At the same time, the 4-star hotel has the modern amenities that leisure and business travelers require, as well as spa, pool and fitness center. The hotel restaurant specializes in modern European fare with a French influence and serves formal and informal meals as well as high tea. Special events include Sunday Jazz Brunch and the black-tie Wairu River Gastronomic dinners featuring wines from Wairu, New Zealand. The hotel and restaurant also can accommodate conferences and weddings.
St. Christopher Wren's House Hotel
Another historic hotel is Sir Christopher Wren's House Hotel, found between Eton Bridge and the walls of Windsor Castle. The 4-star/96-room facility -- a hotel since the 1920s -- is believed to have been home to Christopher Wren, one of Britain's most famous architects. Wren was known for his 17th and 18th century designs, most notably on the new dome at St. Paul's Cathedral, the Royal Observatory and nearby Windsor Town Hall. In a prime position to get a good view of the Changing of the Guard at the caste, the hotel features modern amenities, conference facilities, spa, gym and hot tub as well as award-winning restaurant Strok's, named for the hotel's owner Goran Strok and featuring modern English cuisine.
The Harte & Garter Hotel and Spa
Two 14th-century country inns -- The Garter Inn and The White Harte -- came together in the late 19th century to create the Shakespearean-flavored Harte & Garter Hotel and Spa in Windsor. The hotel has 79 bedrooms, some of which have prime views of Windsor Castle. Part of the Akkeron Hotels organization, the 4-star Harte & Garter has modern conference facilities with Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, the full-service Stables Spa and the British-flavored Tower tea room, bar and brasserie. In addition to the 1,000-plus-year-old castle, nearby attractions include Legoland UK, Ascot Racecourse, Thorpe Park and Eton's famed Dorney Lake, which will be the venue for the rowing events during the 2012 Olympics.
- Windsor England Tourist Information Site: Eton College -- Historic Site in Windsor & Maidenhead
- Legoland, Windsor, UK website
- Tour UK website: Eton, Berkshire Tourist Information
- Windsor, England Tourist Information Site: Windsor Castle
- The Christopher Hotel: Contact Information
- The Hart & Garter Hotel Contact Information
- The Oakley Court Contact Information
- Sir Christopher Wren House Hotel: Contact Information
- tower of eton college chapel image by thomas owen from Fotolia.com