YTL’s Monkey Island Estate graces Bray-on-Thames with a floating spa, good food and endless whisky options
No monkey business
Oh, luxury – a quality of life often evasive, yet remaining nonetheless one that we never fail to crave. Thankfully, YTL Hotels has come to the rescue for our satisfaction-starved souls. Their latest venture brings us along a body of water in England you may have heard of – does the River Thames sound familiar? Well, Monkey Island Estate resides in Bray-on-Thames specifically, but the fact is you can't escape the beautiful flowing depths of the Thames, lapping waves and all, if you stayed in the all-new lodgings YTL has brought to the UK's shores. But then again, why would you want to?
A place filled with grandeur and opulence can only be made more reverent by its background story; especially when it's one as rife with historical significance and cultural diversity as Monkey Island Estate. In this case, age has definitely not wilted the vibrance of its physical body – the island stands strong and proud (and youthful as ever, with the arrival of this new white-bricked countryside hotel) at 800 years old. Just imagine the amount of wisdom this place possesses; we reckon that if it could talk, it would regale epic tales of the monks, kings and queens, and lords and ladies of days past who are said to have passed through (and lived in) its terrains.
YTL was not blind to the locale's acumen when developing its lands. Indeed, a key feature to be experienced on this island is an immersive session at The Floating Spa, whose treatment offerings are inspired by the Augustinian monks who no doubt left traces of their spirituality on the Estate's lands when they were (apparently the first) residents there. Starting with a sensory ritual, each spa treatment will involve drinking an herbal tonic (recipe courtesy, again, of the venerable monks), in an experience charmingly termed the 'Elixir Tasting'. The experience is yet heightened by the spa's location – housed in a barge-turned-three-roomed-resort, the added privilege of being swayed gently by calm waters while drinking an age-old concoction will make you question ever getting back on solid ground. Spa on the water and head in the clouds, we wouldn't blame you if you started to miss the medieval times.
Antiquity is not the only redeeming characteristic of this palatial nook in England – far from it. Bray is no stranger to pioneer gastronomic adventures, being the dwelling place of Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck and Alain Roux's The Waterside Inn (both of which are the proud owners of three Michelin stars). And Monkey Island will be entering its own contestant to the booming food scene of the area – with executive chef William Hemming helming the wheel at the Monkey Island Brasserie, British classics will see a contemporary twist at his expert hand, promising to serve up salmon and steak signatures that feature locally-sourced produce. The Monkey Bar (a name we love for reminding us of great childhood calisthenics) will finish off an evening meal finely with its shelves of tasteful whisky options and an extensive cocktail menu.
One night in a Temple Room at Monkey Island Estate starts at £275/room. For more room types, pricings and information, visit their website.