Once the haunt of the party animals of their day, it wasn’t unusual to see Noel Coward or Tallulah Bankhead having a drink or three at Macdonald Compleat Angler (though not always at the same time – they fell out shortly after she starred in Private Lives) and though it may have changed its look and owners over the years, it’s always been a place that lures the rich and famous. Dating back to the 17th century, the hotel takes its name from Isaak Walton’s world-famous book on angling which it’s believed, written in the area.
I’m not famous, nor can I boast being in the rich bracket, but I love a nice view, being near the water, and a weekend away in the countryside and that’s exactly what you get at Macdonald Compleat Angler owned by the Macdonald Hotel Group.
The Hotel boasts four red stars from the AA and Hotel of the Year by Tourism South East and it’s perfectly placed for local attractions which include Cliveden, Windsor Castle, Royal Ascot and Henley-on-Thames.
When we arrive, we’re offered a Drambuie-laced hot toddy, a warm welcome indeed and we’re shown to our ‘home’ for the two-night stay. All the rooms take the names of fishing flies, ours was ‘Christmas Tree’, an executive room, and one of 64 rooms, ours faces Marlow Weir.
Our room is in a separate block on the second floor, linked by a series of corridors and is well equipped with a Nespresso machine, mini-bar, safe, ironing board, iron, hairdryer, trouser press and marvellous Molton Brown products and fluffy bathrobes.
The bathroom had both shower and bath and a heated, tiled floor. There was free unlimited WiFi using The Cloud. All rooms have televisions with Freeview.
Once unpacked, we wandered downstairs for a drink in the bar ahead of dinner. The Walton Bar has two rooms and one features a magnificent oak-panelled wall. I had a perfectly mixed Martini from the traditional cocktail list. There was a pianist playing a mixture of Christmas and classic tunes.
The Hotel has two restaurants, The Riverside an a la carte, with 2 AA Rosettes and the newly opened Sindhu by the Michelin-starred chef, Atul Kochhar which is a contemporary Indian restaurant. The Group have invested significantly in the recent refurbishment of the Riverside Restaurant which forms part of a £434,000 investment at the Hotel.
Half of The Riverside is hosting a wedding breakfast.
Macdonald Compleat Angler is licensed for civil ceremonies and can seat up to 120 guests for a sit down dinner or 200 for a reception.
Flickering candlelight and a well-lit river made the setting simply spectacular. There was no a la carte option on the night we visit, but a set menu, probably because of the wedding. Nonetheless the choice on offer covered all tastes.
We were given an amuse bouche of wild cep mushroom soup with an artichoke puree, which was so very good and a great start to the evening.
To begin, I chose the scallops and they were beautiful and served with a plate of pureed pumpkin and toasted pine nuts.
Mr had the Scotch Egg. The sage-infused pork sausage meat was delicious, it wrapped around a perfectly soft egg and the panko breadcrumb-coating ensured there was plenty of crunch.
Our room name got me feeling more than a little festive, so I chose the turkey with roast potatoes, carrots and brussels sprouts and whilst it looked like a mass-produced plate of food, it was all very tasty. Slices of breast and the darker, tastier meat couldn’t be faulted.
We ordered extra vegetables which included minted new potatoes, brussels sprouts and chestnuts and just divine honeyed carrots.
Mr had the venison which carried a £10 supplement, and in his words “worth every penny”.
We were just way too full to even contemplate desserts, we couldn’t even manage coffee. A shame really as we didn’t want to leave.
The Sommelier, Val, helped us choose wine for both starters and main courses and we were delighted with his choice of a Pinot Noir. The wine list features New World and European classics.
After a very restful night’s sleep we wandered down with twenty minutes to spare before breakfast had officially ended at 10am, which for a Saturday morning is a tad early but I guess this is all timed with the 1100 check out. There was the usual cold buffet in operation, along with a varied choice of cooked breakfast options.
In daylight we see the magnificent view from the window in the Riverside and it really is a thing of beauty
and Mr’s Kippers and my Full English was a great start to the day.
Throughout our stay, we spoke on a few occasions to James Webb the Hotel Operations Manager who never seemed to leave. He was always busy helping guests, making sure that the Hotel service glided, even on the weekend. It’s obvious that the staff here want you to have a great stay and become a returning guest and the service was faultless.
Christmas here is a very special experience with a Christmas Eve afternoon tea, followed by Christmas Carols with the Choir of All Saint’s Church. A jazz dinner is served in the Riverside Restaurant and on Christmas Day there’s the offer of Buck’s Fizz Breakfast in your room or in the Riverside Restaurant.
Then there’s New Year’s Eve fireworks on the lawn to welcome in the New Year.
There are lots of cosy spaces within the Hotel, if you can bear to tear yourself away from the view on the doorstep (rainbow included).
Marlow is a short walk away, over the famous Marlow Bridge, and you’ll find plenty of things to do to while away a few hours. The weather was glorious so we sat and watched members of the Marlow Rowing Club take their boats out on the water. Members of the Club include the Olympian Katherine Grainger, and it was a great waste of an hour or two watching the single oar sculls take to the water.
During the Summer months, the Hotel has three boats available for hire which seat up to 6,12 and 50 people. The prices range from around £90 per hour to £285 and travel restricted between the locks. Summer picnic hampers and afternoon tea can be organised on board. The usual afternoon tea happens each day in the Riverside Restaurant and there’s a special festive tea happening during December where you can take your sandwiches with a cheeky glass of mulled wine (£33.50) or champagne (£37.50). There are also Festive lunches and Dinners on offer and it’s worth visiting the Macdonald Compleat Angler website to see what’s going on if you plan to visit.
The views here are totally unrivalled and whilst we visited in December, this would be a stunning Spring and Summer venue.
We will definitely be back to sample the food in Sindhu and it would be rather rude not to stay overnight.
Macdonald Compleat Angler, Marlow Bridge Lane, Marlow, Buckinghamshire SL7 1RG