The moment you walk under the archway that is the entrance to the Compleat Angler hotel you feel a special magic in the air. Pause for awhile to take in the scene before you. The name of the hotel is taken from a book about fishing by Izaak Walton (1593 - 1683). To your right is the sweep of the iron suspension bridge. It was designed by William Tierney Clark in 1832. It was a prototype for the chain bridge that was built across the River Danube to link Buda and Pest.
There is a plaque on the bridge telling you it is bridged with Budapest. there is another plaque telling you that Marlow is twinned with Marly-le-Roi not far from Paris. As your gaze travels across the well-kept lawn dotted with pretty tables and chairs and benches inviting you to sit and ponder your eyes meet the majestic All Saint's church. It is a Gothic structure and work was started on it in 1832, just like the bridge, so it must have been a busy time then with a lot of banging and shouting.
All is peace now with just the happy sounds of people on boats and the distant swoosh of the weir.
At the entrance to the hotel olive trees and bright red geraniums lend a Mediterranean feel to your holiday destination.
The Compleat Angler is part of the MacDonald group but on entering the hotel Gavin the manager and his team make you feel at home. It is like a family hotel and you are an important part of it.
The girls at the reception led by Daliah are full of natural charm and every request is greeted with a smile. The two concierge David and Chris are a constant reassuring presence, courteous and friendly and again all requests are treated with kindness. I have just named few of the people from the staff, the ones I've met.
After you have checked into your room and admired the view, quenched your thirst with a glass of complementary water or made a cup of tea you might want to explore the hotel.
The main lounge is quiet and discreet with cosy corners inviting you to sit quietly or play cards or read. Some evenings there is a pianist giving an air of romance and further enjoyment to your stay.
There is another lounge off the main reception area where you can invite friends to join you for coffee and enjoy the view of the garden, maybe see guests arriving for a wedding and admire the dresses of the ladies.
On the side of the hotel by the river is a terrace running alongside to the weir where you can have tea or an aperitif watching the sunset over the bridge. The noise of the weir will lull you into a state of relaxation. The variety of river craft that glides by is a treat. From small canoes, to family cruisers, canal boats, dinghies, the steamer going to Windsor or Henley, sea cadets, rowers, smart speed boats all with one thing in common, a love of messing about on the river, as the song goes.
There are two dining rooms at the Compleat Angler. One is a well reputed Indian restaurant and the other is in the main dining room by the river. In the evening Christian runs his restaurant with efficiency but at the same time carrying on the family atmosphere created by Gavin. There is a lovely large round table, perfect for families. There is enough room for the children to have their colouring books and cards to keep them busy while the grown ups sit back and enjoy the delicious meal, the sunset over the bridge and the perfect reflection of the church in the water, that has been turned to gold by its illumination and the evening sky. The Italian chef will cater happily for the children, serving up their favourite dishes. Coffee can be served in the lounge area listening to the soothing tunes of the piano.
In the morning, lying in bed, the sparkling ripples across the ceiling caused by the sunlight on the river might have you daydreaming about Ratty and Mole and the glorious river Thames. In the restaurant breakfast is served by Mara and Leon and their team. Again all requests are met with smiles. At the weekends and on busy occasions Gavin will supervise a cooked breakfast buffet. Devan and Limon make great lattes and cappuccinos and it is difficult to leave. Marlow and its surrounding area await however and there is so much beauty to enjoy.
One last sip of cappuccino and a wave at the people on the boats going by and a reverie about the magnificent and magical River Thames.
Thank you Gavin and all the team, you made our stay at the Compleat Angler very special.