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Just west of London, many visitors will visit Berkshire without realising it when they step off the train at Windsor. But there's even more to the county than Windsor Castle, Eton, Ascot and Bray - of three Michelin starred The Fat Duck fame. There is also a good selection of accommodation here and our pick of the best places to stay in Berkshire ranges from character filled pubs with rooms, to country house hotels to sophisticated top notch luxury retreats.
All our Berkshire collections:
- Berkshire's Most Romantic Hotels
- The Best Pubs with Rooms in Berkshire
- Hotels with hot tubs in Berkshire
- Best places to stay in Reading
- Best places to stay for the Henley Regatta
- Best hotels for a Quick Country Escape
Berkshire is where you'll find the Prime Minister's country pile, but it's also popular with the royal family - Windsor is apparently the Queen's favourite castle - and celebrities. It is close to London, but feels properly countryfied, so it's a great escape.
Reading is one of the largest centres, known for gaoling Oscar Wilde and in more recent years for the music festival. It might not be the most obvious travel destination, but it's surrounded by some of Berkshire's most green and picturesquely rolling countryside, with plenty of thatched roofs thrown in for historic colour.
Windsor and Eton are more obvious highlights. The castle's changing of the guard is definitely worth getting up early for. And it's also worth hanging round Eton 'til you've seen a few formally tail-coated school boys and marvelled at the old traditions. On either side of a bridge spanning the Thames, Windsor is where you'll find the shopping and the Great Park, and Eton is where you'll find antique shops and art galleries.
Maidenhead, and nearby Cookham, are worth a look. The former for the famous railway bridge designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and the latter because it has an excellent gallery and restaurants - and it's one of the best places to stay in Berkshire if you're looking for a picturesque English village.
If you're interested in Egyptology (or a fan of Downton Abbey) you'll definitely want to visit Newbury. This is where you can find the seat of Lord Canarvon of Tutankharmun fame. It's called Highclere Castle and, while still being the family's home, is open for tours, as well as having an excellent museum.
Of course Newbury is also where you'll need to be for the races - or Ascot.
The best places to stay in Berkshire make ideal weekend boltholes, but extend your stay longer and really get to know this fascinating county.
Berkshire's Rural Villages
- The Elephant at Pangbourne is a chic hotel with 22 individually designed rooms featuring handcrafted Indian furniture. Food is good too and mostly locally sourced.
- On the Berkshire/ Oxfordshire borders, the Miller of Mansfield is a village inn turned boutique hotel. With the beautiful, rural Thames Valley as a backdrop, this hotel is an ideal weekend escape for couples. The Miller is also less than 15mins drive from Henley on Thames, Reading and Oxford, so good for sightseeing.
- The Olde Bell Inn in Hurley is one of the oldest inns in England - hence the extra 'e'. Cosy and unpretentious this inn also has excellent gastropub fayre.
Country House Hotels
- Coworth Park offers the quintessential English countyside experience, with superb equestrian facilities, beautiful grounds, excellent restaurant and bars and an eco-luxury spa.
- Cliveden House is a wonderful neoclassical pile with original Old Masters on the walls and priceless antiques. There's a boating lake, tennis courts, croquet lawns, pools and spa, and people to drive you wherever you need to go - or pilot your helicopter.
- The Waterside Inn at Bray is the ultimate foodie escape, with three Michelin stars earned by Michel Roux and son, Alain, views over the Thames and sumptuous rooms and suites. This is a great place to treat yourself.
- A great foodie escape, The Vineyard at Stockcross has a gourmet restaurant and a wine cellar boasting 30,000 choices, including a number produced by the owner. Built as a hunting lodge in the 18th Century, some of the rooms are original hunting lodge chic, while some have been modernised.
Still not sure which to book? Browse through our list of all the best places to stay in Berkshire, or contact one of our friendly Gurus for advice. If you want to widen the net, why don't you take a look at our recommendations in Oxfordshire?
Best Hotels in Berkshire
Queens Arms 8 rooms from $122Berkshire
Situated in the beautiful Lambourn Valley, this hotel encapsulates the charm of a bygone era. The restaurant serves a classic English menu accompanied by a great wine list. The bedrooms are akin to traditional Inn rooms but with luxury, contemporary touches such as power showers and sumptuous beds.Sights nearby - The Queen’s Arms is 25 minutes’ drive from the pretty Wiltshire market town of MarlboroughFishing - Enjoy chalk stream fishing in the Rivers Kennet and LambournViews - Many of the rooms have views of the paddocks.Full of characterRecommended by - Sawdays
The Olde Bell Inn 48 rooms from $153Hurley, Berkshire
Hearty, old traditional inn. Unpretentious gastro-pub restaurant. Tennis courts and nearby walks on the Thames. Crisp bedrooms with lots of natural light.Secluded setting - For escaping.Quirky - An experience!Recommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, Tablet, Sawdays
The Crab and Boar 14 rooms from $158Newbury, Berkshire
The Crab and Boar is an historic rural pub with rooms providing contemporary countryside accommodation with comfortable, cosy interiors and a relaxing restaurant for perfect weekend getaways. Some rooms have a private hot tub and terrace. Plenty of country pursuits and outdoor activities nearby.Private Hot Tub - Several of the bedrooms have their own patios and outdoor hot tubsGreat walks - Fantastic country walks on The Crab and Boar's doorstepFishing - Near to some of the country’s premier chalkstreamsSights nearby - Highclere Castle - The Real 'Downton Abbey'Recommended by - Sawdays
The Dundas Arms 8 rooms from $159Kintbury,, Berkshire
The Dundas Arms is a grade II listed Georgian inn on the banks of the Kennet, in picturesque Kintbury. Eight rooms are decorated in classic country house style, with feature wallpapers & luxurious bathrooms - river rooms with private terraces. Formal & pub style dining ensure something for all.Local markets - The nearby market town of Newbury has plenty of shops selling local produce.Fishing - Fly fishing on the River Kennet is popular in the summer months.Great walks - Traverse the Ridgeway National Trail.Romantic - Good for couples.
The Forbury 23 rooms from $214Reading, Berkshire
Large stylish townhouse hotel in the centre of Reading. Modern interiors, bright colours, all the mod-cons. Suites and apartments. Restaurant and hip bar.Romantic - Good for couples.Four poster beds - For romantics.Recommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, Michelin Travel
The Vineyard at Stockcross 49 rooms from $238Newbury, Berkshire
5* country escape close to Newbury in Berkshire, just an hour from London. A 30,000 strong wine cellar in a luxury hotel with award winning spa for the ultimate pampering. Spacious rooms and suites offer elegant comfort. The perfect country getaway for romance, girlie breaks or simply a great meal.Foodies - Head chef Daniel Galmiche specialises in classic french/Mediterranean cuisine with a modern twist.Spa - Award wining spa with a wide range of therapies and treatments on offer.Sights nearby - 10 minutes from Highclere CastleGreat walks - On the South DownsRecommended by - Johansens, Relais & Chateaux, Michelin Travel
The Waterside Inn 11 rooms from $269Bray, Berkshire
Ultimate foodie venue with three Michelin stars, on the banks of the river Thames. Run by top chefs Michel Roux and his son Alain. Sumptuous suites and bedrooms.Restaurant - The Waterside Inn holds three Michelin stars.Recommended by - Good Hotel Guide, Relais & Chateaux
Coworth Park 70 rooms from $288Ascot, Berkshire
Quintessentially English countryside experience. Superb equestrian facilities and polo fields, restaurants and bars, eco-luxury spa. A beautifully decorated hotel in the height of luxury.Swimming Pool - Indoor PoolFour poster beds - For romantics.Spa5* Luxury - Very high service standards.Recommended by - Tablet, Johansens, Kiwi Collection, Michelin Travel
Cliveden House 44 rooms from $573Taplow, Berkshire
Grand country house hotel close to London, expensive but luxurious, with historySwimming Pool - Indoor and Outdoor PoolsCountry House - Grand neoclassical pileAntiquesRestaurant - Recommended.Recommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, Frommers, Kiwi Collection, Michelin Travel