What to see in Windsor – besides the royal wedding, of course
Like a well-drilled soldier, the town of Windsor is shining its shoes and polishing its buttons ready to go on parade and be inspected by the world’s media on May 19, when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tie the knot in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. Aside from its royal residence, the town is a smart address anyway, brimming with striking period architecture, situated on an idyllic stretch of the River Thames and bordering Windsor Great Park – 4,800 acres of wide-ranging parkland. The town receives 7.8 million tourists annually and thus has its share of lacklustre chain restaurants and shops selling tourist kitsch. However, you don’t have to wander far off the well-beaten path to discover places that are fit for a king.
Tardis-like, the Macdonald Hotel cleverly hides its 120-rooms behind a slender Georgian façade on the High Street, opposite the castle. It has a cool London-in-the-suburbs vibe and in spite of its size feels boutique. The cocktail bar and Scottish Steakhouse, Caleys, have a nice buzz on weekends – try a Scottish craft gin, such as the Hendricks, and a Stornoway black pudding Scotch egg. For castle views ask for a feature double, furnished in purple velvets and chocolate brown silks and see if you can spot iconic Windsor sights in the black and white artwork. Elegant touches include crystal drinking glasses. Room 304 has the best views of the famous Market Cross House, with its distinctive wonk, (severe lean) built in 1718. Spring Packages start from £79 B&B; 23 High St.
It’s just a 10-minute stroll from the castle, down shop-lined Peascod Street, to St. Leonard’s Road – an altogether more relaxed Windsor scene. Here, you’ll find a firm favourite with locals, the award-winning restaurant Al Fassia, which has been serving up top-notch Moroccan cuisine since 1996. Try the pastries filled with chicken and almonds, followed by a speciality tajine - lamb with sweet prunes – washed down with a Moroccan wine recommended by affable head waiter, Hicham. 27 St Leonard’s Rd.
With its monochrome interior and simple wooden tables Misugo is a stylish yet simple Japanese restaurant, with a vast sushi menu and beautifully filled bento boxes, chock-full of low-fat and healthy ingredients – perfect for a travel detox. Tune in to their “minimum fuss” ethos and relax with a glass of Asahi beer, while your food is freshly made to order (watch the sushi chef’s nimble fingers at work) and expect to arrive as each dish is ready. If you fancy a night in they’ll deliver to your hotel through Deliveroo. 83 St. Leonard’s Rd.
The Two Brewers
The Two Brewers, which sits snugly on Park Street by the George IV Castle Gates, is the most atmospheric pub in town. Built in 1709 and established as a public house in 1792, it has a wonderfully shadowy decor of dark wood, open fires and candlelight. It’s split into two bars, with just nine tables, so book ahead. Food is tasty, locally sourced, simple pub grub – fishcakes the size of saucers and juicy steaks – but it’s the beer and conversation (no fear of loud music drowning that out) that make this place so popular. 34 Park St.
No. 5 St. Leonard’s Rd.
For a late-night cocktail head to No. 5 St. Leonards Road, with its extravagant decor – think red leather padded walls and sexy lighting – and extensive drinks menu, all expertly mixed by owners Tracey and Kate. The style may look a little naughty but don’t be fooled as these two ladies are all about girl-power, so gentlemen must behave at all times. 5 St. Leonard’s Rd.