Henley-on-Thames is universally (well at least in the circles (me!) that care about these things) known as one of the most beautiful villages in England. Its prime location on the Thames (it’s very aptly named), its annual Regatta, and its residents’ attention to detail for pretty florals tie in together beautifully to justify its title. We headed to Henley one afternoon to investigate these claims.
It was a pleasant English summer afternoon. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and all was well in the town of Henley. Our train chugged in to the single platform station just after noon. The air felt lazy and relaxed. We alighted, bright eyed and smiley faced, a little bit confused about how to get out. As soon as we founf the exit however, we made our way to the river. Priorities.
It was extremely easy to stumble upon a boat rental place, almost as if it were meant to be. Before my dad could object, we rented a 5 person row boat, even though none of us had rowed before. We were in Henley, home of the world famous Regatta. It was the right thing to do. We hobbled in to the row boat, everyone except my dad confident about our rowing abilities. How hard could it be? We had an hour, and the will to explore the Thames.
It was hard. My cousin taught us the basics and we pushed off. The rows were too long, they weren’t anchored to the boat, and the two rowers (Andrew was steady rower #1, and my cousin and I alternated as rower #2) were never in sync. We navigated maybe a 50 foot radius of the Thames, got passed by many a motor boat as my dad looked on enviously, and said hi to the same ducks multiple times. It was actually great fun! The company, the laughter, the common failure to control our boat made this easily the best £25 I spent in England.
After our hour was unfortunately up, we walked around by the river aimlessly and ran into some really pretty doors. I was already falling in love with Henley.
We saw many more pretty pubs, old pubs, cute pubs. The powers that be who decreed Henley one of the prettiest English towns were definitely on the right track.
We then ran into a shop that proclaimed to sell the best coffee in Henley. I noted it down for future reference and thought about it every ten minutes thereafter.
We stumbled upon a cute little alley that promised a secret store at the end. Of course we had to follow, and come across an odd little curio and record shop.
We could only wander aimlessly for so long, before we started to get hungry. The town of Henley offers up several cute restaurants to eat at, and we chose Coppa Club because we were standing across the street from it, and it looked cute. It was the best decision!
Coppa Club was not only cute, but home to delicious food and charming service. My cousin and I also appreciated the bathroom design and took some selfies, which I have not spared you from. The servers enthusiastically took group pictures of us, directed by my dad. I don’t think they’ll forget us very soon.
Remember the best coffee in Henley? Even if you forgot, I hadn’t. I dragged the family back to Berries Cafe. Cappuccinos for my cousin and I, a scone with clotted cream and jam for my mom. The cappuccinos were strong and beautiful. It was my cousin’s first coffee with latte art, and I felt honored to be there for this coming-of-age experience. My mom took one look at our faces when we sipped our cappuccinos and sent my dad off to bring her one as well. Was it the best coffee in Henley? I can’t make a definitive comment because that was the only coffee I drank in Henley. However, I’ve drank a LOT (seriously, a lot!) of cappuccinos in my time, and I can definitely say that this was in my top ten! It was probably the best £15 my dad spent in England, because he could see both his wife and daughter blissfully happy.
We would have continued our aimless wandering but Andrew and I had a plane to catch that evening, so we had to regretfully say bye to Henley.
Till next time Henley-on-Thames. Thank you for a wonderful afternoon, sweet memories of which will always bring a smile to my face.