This idyllic island retreat not far from London is rich in history and luxury
Where is it? The Monkey Island Estate is over a bridge on a little, green private island in the River Thames, near Bray, Berkshire. Two Grade I-listed pavilions form the hotel, originally commissioned as a fishing retreat in 1723 by the third Duke of Marlborough.
So what’s the pull? There’s the history: the Duke escaped to his fishing idyll for 20 years before dying in 1758, leading to one of the rumoured reasons for the island’s name. Apparently George III was banished here when he went mad, alone but for his pet monkey. Now there’s a floating spa and a lounge adorned with 17th-century frescoes. At one end of the grounds is a chicken coop, smokehouse, herb garden and row of beehives, all of which contribute to breakfasts. At the other are the Shepherd’s Huts, where guests can gather around a fire-pit at night to stargaze.