Row Barge Inn – Henley on Thames

Departing the Lake District, we headed over to the M6, turning south towards our next destination, Henley-on-Thames, home of the world famous Henley Regatta. Unfortunately the regatta was early July and we were visiting in August. During our 2 days in Henley, we planned to visit Windsor Castle & Runnymede, where the Magna Carta was signed, and take a cruise along the River Thames.

We found an amazing B&B, the Row Barge Inn, which started life as a 16th Century Coaching House, one of many inns that provided a resting place and food for travelers, and stables for the horses. Located on West Street it is a short, couple of minutes walk from the centre of town. It is now a pub serving Brakspear beers, a local Henley Brewery, and they have 4 ensuite rooms above the pub.

Row Barge Inn on West Street

The Inn does not have a parking lot and is surrounded by an abundance of local residences, so we never found any street parking available. Both of the closest parking lots were short term lots of 3 hrs to 8 hrs, so I headed to the train station, where I paid for 3 days. It was an easy 10 min walk back to the B&B.

On arrival, we parked in front of a garage, while I headed into the pub, meeting the landlady. We reserved room # 1, which was a large room, with very comfortable King-size bed & en-suite, located on the 2nd floor, at the rear of the building. To access the room, we had to go through the bar, into the back room, then up a low, narrow and curving set of stairs. While this might sound like a negative, we find it has real character and is one of the reasons we book older B&B’s. They also had an access out back, which led to a path down towards the Town Hall. After getting the luggage up to our room, I headed off to park the car.

Row Barge Inn – Bar & Dining Room

On our first night, the entire pub was booked for a private party. While this didn’t impact our ability to access our room from either the front or rear of the pub, it did mean they were unable to serve any dinners. Therefore, we headed out back and wandered down to the town, enjoying dinner in another local pub.

On our first morning, we headed down for breakfast about 08:00, which is served in the dining room, adjacent to the bar. The landlady’s husband is the cook and his full English breakfasts are excellent – cooked fresh, to order. I noted they serve a Sunday Roast, but the landlady advised they only have 2 sittings – 12:00 and 14:30. Darn, with only 2 days, we planned the River Thames cruise and a walk around town, so wouldn’t be back by 14:30. Well, they agreed to make us Sunday Roasts whenever we returned. Just another example of the excellent customer service.

Enjoying a pint, while waiting for dinner to arrive

We returned at 17:00 and expecting reheated dinners, were pleasantly surprised to be brought 2 freshly made and piping hot plates of roast beef (Judi) and roast lamb (Andy), with all the trimmings. The regulars that we met were very pleasant and we found them very welcoming. During dinner, we chatted extensively with an extended family at the adjacent tables. After dinner, we moved over to the bar area to watch football on the telly, enjoying more conversation with the locals.

Any drinks and lunches/dinners ordered at the bar can be placed on a tab, which you settle on departure.

Garden & patio

We thoroughly enjoyed our 3 nights at the Row Barge Inn, where we were treated almost as family. There are not many pubs where you can walk in the front door, lift up the bar access flap and walk through behind the bar. Again, if you are looking for valet parking, lifts and modern decor and amenities, this is not the place to stay; but, if you are looking for some character, great service and friendly owners, consider giving the Row Barge Inn a ring, if staying in Henley.

 

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