Why we love Windsor - chic shops, cafe culture and historic character
PUBLISHED: 09:56 03 October 2013 | UPDATED: 09:56 03 October 2013
Laden with history and character, Windsor is also home to chic shops and contemporary café culture that will make you want to stay awhile, says Katy Eachus
Just 30 minutes by train from London, Windsor has a strong identity of its own. Dominated by the spectacular castle, which residents can visit for free, and surrounded by history and pageantry, this quintessentially English town has a vibrant, cosmopolitan feel. The attractions are within easy reach of each other, although, if you’re just there for the day, you could see the sights from a horse and carriage or the open-top bus. The Changing of the Guard takes place at 11am daily April to July and alternate days the rest of the year. The historic area around the castle has ancient buildings, cobbled streets and quaint teashops such as The Crooked House, a rickety, timber-framed building reputed to have a secret passage used by Charles II to secretly meet Nell Gwynne.
A short walk down the hill, the fashionable Windsor Royal Station is the place to shop for designer clothes and exclusive gifts, and has some great bars and restaurants. A few steps away, King Edward Court shopping centre, and pedestrainised Peascod Street offer more great shops and places to eat. The river area below offers boating and leisure activities. Take a short stroll over Windsor Bridge to Eton, with its famous school and more delightful shops and eateries The Windsor Great Park is perfect for walks and picnics, and includes the lovely Savill Gardens and Virginia Water lake.
Windsor Royal Shopping in the former Victorian railway station opposite Windsor Castle, has a good variety of shops, continental style restaurants, cafes and bars, and an arts and crafts market, open seven days a week. Loyal shoppers are rewarded with a members’ only ENVY club card, with exclusive offers and discounts from a selection of stores and restaurants as well as some local attractions and venues.
Oldest department store
The much-loved Daniel department store, which links the pedestrianised Peascod Street with King Edward Court shopping centre, is the oldest and largest department store in Windsor. The family business WJ Daniel & Co was established in Ealing in 1901, and the Windsor shop was bought in 1918. It is still run by the same family. A recent major refurbishment has given it a more contemporary look, added more departments and created a more logical layout. The store has the largest Toy Department south of the West End. It also sells ladies’ and men’s fashion, lingerie, furniture, soft furnishings, stationery, and china and glass, and has several very good cafes and restaurants.
The new look store is up to date and glamorous, but you’ll still feel the history and experience the standards of service you’d expect from a premier department store.
Tel: 01753 801000
Step inside the ancient Woods of Windsor shop on the High Street near the castle, and you will discover a light, bright interior, redolent with lovely fragrances. The shop is filled with fabulous-smelling, beautifully packaged luxury bath and lifestyle products. Its history dates back to 1770 when it was an apothecary known as Woods. In the 1970s the old pharmacy was bought and a treasure trove of old recipe and prescription books discovered. Some of the perfumery and toiletry recipes were recreated and the idea for Woods of Windsor was born. Today, the building is the flagship store and company headquarters for Woods of Windsor and Yardley London, another quintessentially English brand, both owned by Lornamead.
Tel: 01753 753420 www.woodsofwindsor.co.uk
INUTI Designer Jewellery in King Edward Court is offering selected lines at greatly reduced prices this Autumn. Designer pieces by brands such as Baccarat at up to 50% discount. Exciting new lines include My Bon Bons by Nomination - cupcake packaged delights, retailing at around £50, make the perfect gift for bridesmaids, friends and family. Georg Jensen’s pave lined Fusion ring dazzles in 18carat White, Yellow or Rose Gold. Stunning new Carbon fiber rings by Furrer Jacot will appeal to your man’s technical side. And The Missing U Collection captures the emotions in life when children fly the nest, off to University. They really do think of everything!
Tel: 01753 620860
Bond Street style
Fenwick in King Edward Court, which opened in 1980, is a beacon of fashion and good taste, offering contemporary fashion in a royal setting. The store’s two floors create an intimate and rewarding shopping experience. On the ground floor the beauty department, complete with Clarins Red Room, nail bar and brow bar, is complemented by fashion accessories and lifestyle clothing. Up on the first floor is classic womenswear, shoes and a Regis hair salon. Gift cards are available and can be used for products or services. An alterations service is offered for clothes bought in-store.
Tel: 01753 855537 www.fenwick.co.uk
The Windsor branch of Johnsons Shoes, in King Edward’s Court is the flagship store of this highly successful, family-owned company, established in 1952. It stocks a large range of footwear and accessories for the whole family, with brands for men and women including Barker, Converse, Ecco, Gabor, Hispanitas, Peter Kaiser, K&S, Timberland and Ugg. The Children’s department has specially trained staff to fit your children’s shoes. Brands include Clarks, Start-rite, Converse, Geox, Lelli Kelly, Nike, and Skechers.
Tel: 01753 868035 www.jshoes.net
For inspirational bathrooms, visit European Bathrooms in King Edward Court. See the latest trends and get lots of creative ideas for bathrooms of all shapes and sizes. Established in 1995, the company works in partnership with Europe’s most prestigious brands including Villeroy & Boch, Schneider, Burg, Hansgrohe, Keuco, Kohler, Daryl and Bisque. Products are available on a supply-only basis, or a complete project-managed installation. You can arrange for a no-obligation, free home visit to discuss your requirements. The company prides itself on its quality products, many of which come with manufacturer guarantees, and after-sales service.
Tel: 01753 865050 www.europeanbathrooms.com
For finest quality, luxury jewellery visit Robert Gatward in King Edward Court. You’ll find a selection of engagement rings, wedding rings and prestige Swiss watches including Gucci. Virtually all the rings are designed and created by the company, by personally selecting the stones and creating unique designs. Owners Keith and Bridie Gill will help guide you through choosing the perfect piece. In addition, jewellery from Links of London, and Thomas Sabo is available alongside pieces by up-and-coming designers and local goldsmiths. The Windsor store is one of six Robert Gatward branches. The company was established in Oxfordshire in 1979.
Tel: 01753 851669 www.robertgatwardjewellers.co.uk
See a show
A visit to Windsor would not be complete without an outing to the latest production at Theatre Royal Windsor. The beautiful Edwardian building nestles in the shadow of Windsor Castle, the perfect setting for a memorable day. Theatre Royal Windsor has gained a reputation for the quality of its productions. Their repertoire ranges from the classics and traditional pantomime to first productions of new works, many of which subsequently transfer to the West End. Ticket prices range from £11-33. For special Group Rates, call the box office. Look out for Mansfield Park 10-14 September, Viva Verdi (18 September), Puttin’ On The Ritz with the Passadena Roof Orchestra (21 September) and The Wimpy Kid show (21 September).
Tel: 01753 853888 www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk
WHERE TO STAY
With so many fantastic shops, you may want to spend more than one day in Windsor. We’d recommend the four AA red star Macdonald Windsor Hotel in the High Street. From now until 28 November, the contemporary townhouse hotel is offering a one-night B&B Windsor Welcome break including a sharing board for two in Caleys Lounge and a glass of Prosecco from just £119 per night for two sharing a classic double or twin room. Room upgrades and extra nights are available at a supplement. Overlooking the Guildhall and just two minutes’ walk from the Castle, the luxurious hotel is a great base to explore the historic town. Some of its 120 bedrooms and suites overlook the Castle, while Caley’s is the place to meet, mingle, drink and dine informally. As a member of the Macdonald Hotels Scottish Steak Club, Caleys restaurant has been awarded an AA rosette for its outstanding cuisine. To book, telephone quoting Windsor Welcome Break.
Tel: 0844 879 9101
The Oakley Court is a gorgeous country house hotel in the Gothic style, situated on the banks of the River Thames between Maidenhead and Windsor. The 19th century mansion sits in over 35 acres of immaculately landscaped gardens rolling gently down to the Thames. It has 118 rooms and suites, all spacious and modern with beautiful period features and views over the grounds and the Thames. The Oakleaf Restaurant has been given a new lease of life and renamed The Dining Room. The AA rosette-awarded restaurant has a superb offering of European, particularly French cuisine supported by a great wine selection. Ideal for business events, it has a variety of boardrooms and conference rooms. Leisure facilities include tennis courts, a croquet lawn and a nine-hole golf course, while indoors there is a gym and indoor pool.
Tel: 0118 971 4700 www.oakleycourtwindsor.com
WHERE TO EAT
There’s no shortage of places to eat and drink in Windsor. Royal Windsor Station, pictured, has lots of attractive restaurants, coffee shops and wine bars, including Café Rouge and Carluccio’s. The Green Olive in the High Street does fabulous Greek food. For Japanese dishes, visit Yo Sushi in Daniel department store.