Set in a verdant spot beside the River Thames, close to refined Richmond, Bingham Riverhouse is privy to classic English views. However, its 15 rooms, styled by design whizz Nicola Harding, have mid-century modern furnishings, cocktail chairs, colourful throws and chic neutral hues – some have a copper bath tub just steps from the bed, too. The boutique stay has a warm welcoming feel throughout, with a parlour, library and drawing room (with a country-kitchen-style bar) where you can make yourself at home, and two dining rooms, one helmed by a MasterChef: The Professionals winner.
11am, but a later check‑out is sometimes possible. Earliest check‑in, 3pm (can be earlier, subject to availability).
Double rooms from £130.50, including tax at 20 per cent.
Guests booking the bed and breakfast rate will get free Continental breakfast (hot à la carte items are available for an extra charge)..
At the hotel
Gardens, parlour, library, drawing room, free WiFi throughout. In rooms, flatscreen TV, iPod dock and DAB radio, minibar, La-Eva bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Extremely spacious and with an incredible Thames view, Sappho is the best choice. Callirrhoe has an antique four‑poster bed. Baudelaire is the biggest room in the hotel and has views of the Thames, hotel gardens and the Embankment beyond. Borgia has a leafy vista. If a river view is vital to you, specify this when booking.
There's no spa onsite, but guests are given access to eco-conscious wellness centre Bhuti, just a five-minute walk away. Here, Mr & Mrs Smith guests get free entry and can partake in yoga classes, work out in the fitness centre, try holistic therapies (the hotel offers a 15 per cent discount for pre-booked treatments) and snack healthily in the vegan tea room. A frequent programme of events is held here too.
Home spa products if you have a room with one of the eye-catching Catchpole & Rye copper bath tub. Riding gear, for equestrian pursuits in Richmond Park. Each room has a few books for you to flick through.
No pets, but guide dogs are welcome. On-site parking is limited, but spaces in the carpark opposite are pre-bookable at a cost of £18 a day.
Four-legged friends can stay in some rooms if requested in advance. Dogs are welcome in the bar during the day, but in the evening the bar and restaurants are off-limits. These restrictions don't apply to guide dogs. See more pet-friendly hotels in London.
Cots are free; roll-away beds are £50 a night. The hotel is well-equipped with baby monitors, cots, highchairs and a nappy-changing room. Superior River Double room Sappho can connect to a Double.
Under-12s stay free, with no cost for extra beds. Over-12s, £50 a night. Babysitting can be arranged. Superior River Double room Sappho can be connected to a smaller double for families.
Babies and up: all enjoy the garden and river views.
Most rooms have space for an extra bed or cot at no extra charge for the under 12s (£50 for older children). The best room is Sappho, with garden views. It interconnects with Iris, a small double.
There's a large garden to run around in. Staff can arrange horse riding, bike hire and boat trips to Hampton Court and Kew Gardens. Colouring pencils and books are available to help keep children occupied in the restaurant.
No need to pack
Bingham is well-equipped with baby monitors, cots, high chairs and a nappy-changing room.
The hotel overlooks the Thames (a large wall at the end of the lawn will keep your little ones from straying on to the towpath), and river traffic is endlessly fascinating. There's a fridge in every room, handy for storing milk.
By the window, with a river view; come summer, romantics will want a table on the covered balcony.
The hotel's main restaurant is Steven Edwards at Bingham Riverhouse, named for the MasterChef: The Professionals winner who oversees the à la carte menu, which champions high-quality British produce. Hearty fare with a hint of nostalgia is served here and on Sunday there's a must-try five-course tasting menu for lunch, served before the dining room closes for the evening.
The genteel drawing room bar is styled to look like a country-house kitchen, with a marble countertop and a piano tinkling away in the background.
Breakfast is served till 10am; lunch till 2.30pm or 5.30pm on Sundays; dinner till 10pm (restaurant closed Sunday evenings); bar open round the clock for guests.
Lunch and dinner can be served in your room; the menu may change frequently, but the quality remains high.
The closest airport is London Heathrow, 20 minutes from the hotel by car.
Richmond station is just up the road – about a 15-minute walk away – the frequent fast train to London Waterloo takes about 20 minutes.
From the M4, you'll need to pick up the A307 to get to the hotel. On-site parking is limited, but spaces in the carpark opposite are pre-bookable at a cost of £18 a day.
Worth getting out of bed for
Hop on a river ferry at St Helena Pier, just by Richmond Bridge, and float gently down the Thames all the way to historic Hampton Court Palace; check the timetable for Turks Launches. If you’re in the mood for a movie of the moment, Richmond Odeon Cinemais on Hill Street. Closer still on Water Lane, the Curzon favours highbrow flicks. Richmond Park is famous for its deer – mostly they'll happily enhance your Instagram shots, but be careful during rutting season (from October to December); admire all this natural beauty on a romantic horse-and-carriage ride, or hire a bike to bomb through its fields. Or stroll through the exotic grounds of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew where you can poke your nose into fantastic greenhouses and pause in private corners of pretty parkland.
Lovers of French food will enjoy Chez Lindsay, a bistro on Richmond’s Hill Rise where Lindsay Wotton’s Breton cuisine takes centre stage: try griddled galettes or cider‑soaked oysters. Along the towpath, with an alfresco terrace, modern Argentine restaurant and bar Gaucho is a carnivore’s dream come true: the big draw is steak, in all its seared, grilled and well‑hung glory (although there are vegetarian and seafood dishes). The acclaimed Petersham Nurseries Caféis a 10‑minute stroll across Petersham Meadows. Book well in advance to sample Damian Clisby's garden‑fresh seasonal menus. Downriver in Kew, The Glasshouseon Station Parade is an acclaimed eatery for a special‑occasion lunch or romantic dinner; Berwyn Davies oversees the fancy French‑influenced flavours in this elegant cream‑coloured restaurant. The Pig's Ears, a six-minute walk from the hotel, serves a menu filled with porky delights for the inclined – pig rilette with beetroot chutney, pig croquettes with picalilli – and hearty meat dishes and moules for those less so. Make a beeline for a table in the sun-dappled glasshouse (or the garden, in warmer weatehr) at The Gate, a cosy spot where you can settle in after a stroll along the Thames and order classic cheeseburgers, fish and chips with mushy peas, aoili-drizzled lobster arancini and moreish plates of cumin-spiced sweet potato fries.
When your other half suggests an exciting weekend jaunt, my inner spoiled brat jumps up and down, thinking: ‘Goody… Will it be a boutique hotel in the Cotswolds – or maybe somewhere super-glam like Cannes?’ When we jump in the car and the SatNav announces ‘seven miles to your destination’, my hopes aren’t at their highest. Then Mr Smith mentions that he has another fantastic surprise. His eyes wander down to an envelope at my feet. Oh no. I’m sure I can make out ‘Twickenham Stadium’ through the address window. A rugby match in southwest London isn’t exactly my dream date. Fantasies involving oversized Gucci shades on La Croisette and cream teas in the genteel hills evaporate, replaced by chanting, beer-swilling blokage…
Richmond has never been my top choice for a weekend escape but, winding our way through leafy lanes, we feel as though we’re visiting a country village without even having to leave London, and we like it. As we pull up at Bingham Riverhouse, I’m back on track towards those hopes of boutique hotel-based shenanigans. This is a stylish hotel. Inside, the style roll call of chic is answered in full: droplet chandeliers, mushroom-hued Farrow & Ball paint, bespoke art deco-inspired furniture – the works.
We’re led up to an attic room on the second floor, which is a little light on vistas, owing to the angle of the windows, so staff very kindly redirect us to the best room in the house, named after the poetess Sappho. (If you know your Greek history, you'll realise this lady hailed from the Isle of Lesbos; if I ever switch from a penchant for Mr Smiths to Mrs Smiths, I'll know where to take them.) With an unadulterated river view over the lawn, through huge floor-to-ceiling French windows, it is along far more romantic lines. Weeping willows, rowers on the water – who needs the South of France after all? We head out for a stroll. A small festival is underway on the grassy knoll in front of the full deck of Slug & Piano-type bars, which gets packed in the summer months. A live band is playing, and lots of happy souls are whiling away their weekend afternoon, drinks in hands, swaying to music.
After stocking up on some bathtime treats from the L’Occitane on the high street (I spied a Jacuzzi just about big enough for two back in our bathroom), we treat ourselves to souvenirs from a delightful chocolatier, William Curley, hidden on a little lane off the main drag. It’s definitely starting to feel like a holiday. We retreat to Bingham Riverhouse for an evening cup of tea on the lawn. In a few seconds our landscape switches from pushchairs and M&S carrier bags to something lot more Swallows and Amazons.
After a pre-dinner freshen-up (if an hour-long soak in the tub with the crossword merits the description), voices outside suggest that a private party is getting underway here at the hotel. Mr Smith takes a look out of the window to investigate, forgetting he’s fresh from the bath, much to the horror/delight (my words/his words) of a group of girls walking past the river, who happen to glance up.
I investigate the party and find I recognise some faces – what fun! (Thank goodness it hadn’t been them admiring the black wrought-iron balconies on this fine Georgian property minutes earlier.) Holidaying in your hometown is even better when you return from dinner next door to the hotel to a shindig with friends. After our delicious meal around the corner at riverside restaurant Canyon and, more noticeably, a fantastic bottle of Montrachet, the temporary dancefloor back at Bingham Riverhouse is unavoidable. After a little bit of Saturday Night Feverishness, Mr Smith decides a more civilised end to our evening might lie in a nightcap and a game of chess in the hotel’s upstairs lounge. But about two moves in, it’s clear I’m as much a threat to Kasparov as Mr Smith is to John Travolta – the only king I care about is the mattress awaiting us in our spacious river-view room.
After a prize-winningly peaceful night’s sleep – it really is like being in the countryside – I take a look out the window to see it’s the kind of overcast day you’re always secretly grateful for, because it gives you an excuse to stay holed up in your big bed with fluffy cushions and widescreen TV. I phone down to reception and ask if they might be able to rustle up eggs Florentine and toast for breakfast, and my high-maintenance needs are greeted with surprising warmth. Pretty soon, a couple of baskets of bread and pastries sufficient to feed a rugby team is with us. Which reminds me… What were those tickets I spied?
Fast forward a few hours and we’ve dozed off again, only to be woken by housekeeping knocking on the door. Oops. We’re still in bed. The good ol’ English embarrassment gene kicks in. ‘Oh no, I hope they don’t think that we’re up to mischief,’ I say, blushing. Mr Smith sighs. ‘We’re in a hotel – they don’t just suspect it; they expect it.’ We finally emerge about lunchtime, and I try to carry off the demeanour of someone who’s well-rested but, at the same time, doesn’t have too much of a spring in her step.
We’ve decided on a Richmond Sunday roast in the restaurant, where we discover that we’re not just getting fed, but that there is also a guitar-strumming Jose Feliciano-alike chanteur to treat us to some live music. Should I ask if he’ll play some Rolling Stones, suggests Mr Smith? Then the penny drops – that’s what the tickets are for! There was I, wishing for an out-of-town escapade, when he’d got a fantastic adventure planned in London. You can’t always get what you want – but in this case, what I got turned out to be better than what I thought I wanted.