Windsor For The Bank Holiday {Any Suggestions?}

Author: Lolly Gautier-Ollerenshaw

Much like this post I wrote back in September last year about an anniversary trip to London, I’m shamelessly using today’s slot to ask for your recommendations as to where to go over the Bank Holiday weekend coming up at the end of this month.I really hope you don’t mind…

Your help was invaluable last time round and both Ste and I covered off pretty much all your suggestions shared in the comments at the bottom of the post and had a whale of a time to boot. Thank you so much for taking a moment to make your suggestions. So I’m looking for your help again except this time it’s a new location – Windsor – and we’ll have a two and a half year old in tow which obviously brings some restrictions in a way that a solo adult trip wouldn’t. No nights of drunken boozing for us….(sob!).

We’ve been organised enough to book both our accommodation which is situated in Egham, Surrey and we have a plan for the first day travelling which is to stop off at Bicester Village, tire out Hector and have a spot of lunch at The Farmshop before travelling down to our hotel in the afternoon. The hotel itself is pretty self-contained in that it has expanses of gardens including kitchen gardens, formal walks and even secret hideaways and there’s an outside pool to keep Hector and Ste entertained whilst I sneak in some chapters from my new book. Neither of them know this yet but it’s SO going to happen…

But apart from that we’re a bit stumped for what to do whilst we’re there on the Saturday and Sunday. We want to make the most of the local area and I’ve always dreamed of visiting nearby Windsor Castle despite the fact that we’re not overly keen on anything touristy or gimmicky but wondered whether this would be appropriate for Hector? Have any of you been? Would you recommend booking in advance? And do you know of any really lovely places to grab a bite to eat and drink whilst we’re there?

We’ve also had lots of recommendations to visit nearby Legoland – however are we completely INSANE to even consider venturing there on a bank holiday weekend. Is it going to be more a case of winding, hot, sticky queuing and fending off wasps than laughs aplenty?

We’re completely open to suggestions. All of us love being outside, exploring new places and embracing exciting experiences. Given Hector’s age-related attention span we’re more likely to nip into spaces and then out again having whetted our appetite for something new without hanging round for too long. Ideally we’d like to find a compromise for keeping Hector entertained but adding a little style into the mix for this mama too whether that be through a stylish afternoon cocktail or a rather beautiful garden/house.

So what would you recommend? This is where I bow to your wisdom and ask for your help on the matter. What are your top eating/drinking/visiting tips for the Surrey area? Admittedly it’s a large county so preferably within a 30 minute radius of Egham would be ideal? Anywhere you might recommend for brunch on the Sunday? Please share your thoughts in the comments box below.


Header Image by Christine Wehrmeier

Author: Lolly
Lolly is a self-professed frustrated florist and styling maven with an endless passion for all things pretty.
Follow Lolly on instagram @graceandgable
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25 thoughts on “Windsor For The Bank Holiday {Any Suggestions?}

  1. Lolly you’ll be in your element in this area with all the beautiful gardens to visit. Windsor Great Park is huge with so much to explore, we particularly love Virginia Water or Saville Gardens or the Long Walk from the Castle. The Castle is absolutely gorgeous but the queues are immense so I’d definitely recommend booking. I’ve not taken my children yet but would love to so would be keen to hear how Hector enjoys it if you do go. Castles are one of my favourite things! Our daughter is a similar age to Hector and loves Legoland, although it can get very busy over a bank holiday especially if it’s sunny. Cliveden in Taplow is a beautiful National Trust property with loads for children. Windsor itself has so many lovely little shops and restaurants/ cafes/ bars and the river so you can while away a few hours just wandering around. Alexander gardens is by the river and normally has something going on for families on summer weekends. Having just finished a slab of fudge from the Windsor Fudge Kitchen I can recommend a trip there if you have a sweet tooth… the salted caramel flavour is delicious!

    1. Hmmm the queues were the one thing that Ste and I were worrying about – neither Hector nor Ste has any patience for them so I’m thinking perhaps it might be worth giving the Castle a miss and visiting when Heccy is a bit older. I promise to keep you updated though Anna, and thank you also for all the wonderful tips on the gardens! We are contemplating getting up and out first thing for Legoland and then coming away about lunchtime in the hopes of missing the queues there so it’s been great to hear that there’s lots going on even for Hector’s age. Thanks for the recommendations xxx

  2. I think you would all like the following, and you can easily reach them all in 30 mins from Egham.
    Petersham Nurseries – you simply must try the cake once you’ve wondered round the plants and curiosities.
    RHS Wisley Gardens – GREAT for Heccy, and you will get a floral fix.
    Virginia Water Lake – not far from Egham at all.
    The Medicine Garden – a bit further out but super lovely.

    1. Wow! I hadn’t realised that both Petersham and Wisley were both in close proximity to where we’re staying so this is music to my ears this morning. Seems like quite a few people are recommending Virginia Water Lake so I think we need to check it out! Thanks for the tips lovely xxx

  3. Ahhhh…Great Fosters! My husband and I got married there 6 months ago and it’s the most magical place. You could easily while away a day there without stepping outside the gates 🙂 the outdoor pool, the gardens, the cocktail bar, the 2 restaurants…are all so lovely! Ps…Virginia Water is our favourite for walks and definitely worth a visit.

    1. Ahhh Alicia it’s so nice to hear from someone who has stayed there. We have dinner booked in one of the restaurants one of the evenings and I’ve told Ste to bring his trunks for the pool. I can’t wait to explore the gardens…Will check out Virginia Water now; thanks for the tips!

  4. Hi Lolly,
    My friend and I and our two babies (then 14 months and 7 months) went to Windsor for an overnight stop last year on our way between Stratford upon Avon and Brighton. We went to the castle with the two little ones – they were in carriers and fell asleep so we were able to take in the audio tour. The castle is lovely and well worth a visit – they do get a lot of big tour groups but it’s a big place so it’s less manic once you’re inside with lots of space. We bought our tickets the night before then went back in the next day (tickets are valid for a year so you can pop back again) or if you book in advance is probably a good idea. I have a feeling Hector would enjoy the dolls house and seeing the beefeaters. We also saw the changing of the guard which he would love – when the guards saw we had little ones they ushered us into a good spot in the front where we could actually see! I think in the castle there might have been a children’s trail thing they can follow too. Otherwise would recommend the parks for some beautiful walks/ running round for Hector.

    1. Morning Emma – that’s handy to know about the tickets being valid for the year and I confess the changing of the guard is part of the reason why we’re edging towards visiting Windsor; Hector is currently obsessed with soldiers so to see them in real life would fascinate him. I suppose the only thing that is putting me off is the queues and how busy it might be as other readers have commented on. Perhaps it will be something that we make a final decision on as we get closer to the date…Thanks for sharing your experiences though – it’s always really useful to hear from those who have been there and done it so to speak xxx

      1. Lolly if you go right at the end of the day the day before you go and just buy your tickets the queue will be really short – then you just go back the next day and waltz in past the queue – that’s what we did! He will love the guards – when we were there there was a bunch of overseas tourists who kept edging closer and closer with their cameras…when they were almost right in their face the guard suddenly “Queens Guard, step back!!” And they jumped about a mile in the air! We thought it was hilarious and I think a four year old would think it was terribly thrilling!!

        1. That’s actually the kind of thing Ste and find so funny! Will take on board the advice about the tickets too xxx

  5. Hi! Honestly, I think you’ll have a better trip inside the castle when Hector is older and can appreciate and remember it more! Also, when it’s less busy and “cattle like” I would recommend parking in Windsor central, doing ‘the long walk’ (great photo ops!) and catching the action with the changing of the gaurd. You can also pop down to the riverside where it crosses to Eton at the bottom of the highstreet and see the majestic royal swans, from here you can take a short stroll down stream, watch the boats and and grab an ice cream or a cup of tea. French Brothers also do short tourist trips along the Thames I’m sure this might be nice for 45mins too!
    As far as Legoland goes, yes it’s fab, but it’s also very busy so just keep that in mind! I’m sure a season ticket holder can fill you in on the best tips!
    Saville Garden is stunning. (main gardens are paid entry) however it also connects to Virginia water lake which you can easily spend over half a day doing, it’s over an hours walk around with a buggy and has a beautiful waterfall, totem pole and play park and cafe.
    There are heaps to choose from restaurant wise in Windsor so you won’t be stuck for choice! Have fun! (And welcome to my neck of the woods!)

    1. Thanks for the candour Lisa – and for the tips on Windsor generally. I’ll be sure to share all your thoughts with Ste when he comes home later today and work up a plan of attack. Saville Garden has intrigued me – especially since Virginia Water comes part and parcel with it. The boat idea is also genius too so very tempted to follow up your recommendation here. You’re so lucky to live around here….so much to do!

      1. It’s pretty lovely! I often find myself popping to Windsor with the 1 and 2 year old to stroll down the riverbank and watch the hoards of swans. The Great Park (including the long walk) is stunning, my 6 year old loves it! Other points of interest that I find amusing include groups of tourists clicking away and spotting the Etonian school boys in their uniformed finery. (Eton is basically a school and a little quieter and tucked away 1 minute over the bridge from Windsor)

        Great Fosters is fab too! Legoland will be ace for your little lad.

  6. Hi Lolly. We did the exact same thing on Easter weekend with a 4 year old. There is loads in Windsor to do but I’d avoid the castle. Expensive and not good for little ones who want to explore. Maybe when they are older. We did Windsor Great Park which was great for tiring out little legs, and if you’ve got a National Trust pass a good free day out was had at Osterley Park and House. We did the Cadburys egg hunt which was brill. They have a lovely stable cafe too. We did do a day at Legoland. It was busy but not as bad as I expected. We got priority tickets from O2 for £25 which gave us fast passes til 12pm so we went round the ones we wanted to do first and then chilled for the afternoon. It’s not all about the rides. There’s loads of stands and areas to build lego, little shows and parks. Def worth a visit if you’re there and get a good deal on tickets. We only ate one night in Windsor which was at Bills. It’s a chain but has a cool relaxed vibe and great food selections for little ones including drawing and sticker packs. Also it’s on the very pretty train station which was lovely so good if your little boy is a train spotter like mine! Hope the sun shines for you and you have a great time. Ps did I mention the shopping, oh the shopping was fab!!

    1. This is such useful advice Janie so thanks for taking a moment to share your thoughts with me. I think the fast pass idea is perfect for us…are they extra money? Or just given out as they see fit? And the train station sounds wonderful too – Hector is a fan of anything that moves and has an engine so I can see this being right up his street. The shopping though would be perfect for this mama too…

      1. We got them through the O2 priority app and it worked out cheaper than buy one get one free and included the fast pass plus free access to 4d film before the park opened. £75 for all three of us. If one of you has an o2 phone it’s definitely worth a look!

  7. If you do want to go to Legoland it’s currently buy one get one adult ticket free (and Hector will be free I think) on Cadburys chocolate packets – the big ones. You.Are.Welcome.

    Same offer for Alton Towers and Cbeebies Land. Plus Warwick Castle, Chessington and Madam Tussauds.

    1. Ooooh interesting Rebecca…so technically I would need to eat a large bar of chocolate then? All in the name of saving money? 😉

  8. If your going to Bicester village get there early, I live just down the road and always get there for opening time as its packed with tourist shoppers bused in from London after 10am. I can tell you from experience shopping there with a toddler when it’s that busy is a nightmare. There is a play park if it’s dry but it’s very small and not really geared up for under 5’s. Weekends are super busy but even weekdays are packed there. X

    1. Hi Sarah – we’re fairly regular visitors to Bicester (probably going about three times a year) so know all too well the huge queue at that motorway junction and the coach loads of tourists! Really we’re not intending to shop all that much…Ste wants to top up his wardrobe but only with a couple of items and I wouldn’t mind taking a look at Bonpoint for Hector and The White Company for the house but that’s it really. Generally it’s about grabbing a bite to eat and letting Hector stretch his legs. Thanks for the advice though xxx

  9. Hi Lolly,
    My grandma is from that part of the world so I spent a lot of summer holidays in there as a child!
    If the weather is rubbish (I really hope it’s not!) there’s a swimming pool called the Coral Reef that’s really fun for kids – think centre parks but obviously does have the potential to be heaving! Opposite it is a park called the Look Out that’s got lots of fun places to explore! These are both in Bracknell.
    As a child I loved Legoland so so much but I worry that Hector might be a bit young for the rides.
    Windsor is of course amazing, the park is great to watch the planes but it is a 2.5mile walk from the castle to the copper horse (worth seeing!). Shopping is amazing, lots of stand alone beauty, a big space NK…hard to complain! All near nice restaurants!
    Enjoy! Beckie 🙂

    1. Hi! Coral reef has been closed for the past year due to an extensive refurbishment improvement. It’s opening again later this summer. The lookout discovery centre is fab, gorgeous wooden park and indoor kids science and learning centre – suited for 2-10 yrs. Great if it rains and you can’t visit any gardens!

  10. Aah great fosters. I got married there almost 7 years ago. Such a beautiful hotel and we often go back. You’ll love it. Wisley is great for kids. As is the lookout in Bracknell. Almost like a mini science museum. My boys loved it. Saville gardens is lovely too but wisley beats there in my opinion. Have fun!

  11. Oh I love Windsor Lolly! I’d probably say leave the castle for this trip. James and I spent a good three or so hours when we were there last so I think Heccy might get a bit bored.
    I did a week long course in Slough a few years ago and James drove down to take me out one night in Windsor and save me from room service. We went to the Bell and Dragon and midweek it was absolutely packed! Hopefully the food and service would be as good as it was several years ago x

  12. You’re coming to my neck of the woods I went to college in Windsor. Lots of great suggestions already, you are not that far away from Hampton court which is one of my favourite places the gardens are stunning and the house is fascinating. I would definitely recommended a boat trip in Windsor. It also has some great shops especially in the old train station. Henley isn’t that far away too which has the river and rowing museum and you can have a lovely cocktail at hotel du vin by the river.

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