Behold: a Newly Renovated 18th-Century Country Estate on the River Thames

Where Secret Staircases Lead to Whiskey Bars and the Spa Is Afloat

By Sam Eichner ·

For over 800 years, Monkey Island—a bucolic sliver of land on the River Thames, just outside of London—has played host to English monarchs, aristocrats, famous writers and artists.

And starting later this month, it may just play host to you.

Boy, how times have changed...

Behold, in all its countryside splendor, Monkey Island Estate—a restored 18th-century hotel set across seven sprawling acres, complete with a secret staircase that leads to an intimate whiskey bar and a veritable floating spa. It’s set to open on August 22, and they’re taking reservations now.

Though it’s been frequented by notable Englishmen for centuries, the 3rd Duke of Marlborough bought the island in 1723, commissioning the Pavilion and Temple buildings from a master Palladian architect and monkey paintings from the celebrated French artist, Andieu de Clermont. The white-brick exteriors have remained intact, as well as the iconic Wedgewood blue ceilings. Oh, and the monkey paintings. Those are still there, too.

Now, however, with renovated interiors inspired by the original, the buildings are home to 27 rooms and three deluxe suites, plus the Monkey Island Brasserie, which will feature things like salmon, smoked on the grounds in a custom-built hickory smokehouse, and slow-cooked Welsh lamb rump. There’s also the Monkey Bar, with its lovely garden terrace, and the Whiskey Snug: a cozy bar accessible via a “well-kept secret staircase.” We know how much you love those.

Should you get tired of lounging about the estate, you can always check out the nearby Windsor Castle, where the Queen spends many a-weekend, play golf at the Berkshire Golf Club, eat at Heston Blumenthal’s three Michelin-starred restaurant, The Fat Duck, or hit Monkey Island’s very own floating spa. Built inside a traditional wide-beam English canal boat on the River Thames, it’s the first of its kind in Great Britain.

Probably because it’s built inside a traditional wide-beam English canal boat. 

Sam Eichner

Sam Eichner likes literature, reality television and his twin cats equally. He has consistently been told he needs a shave since he started growing facial hair.

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