Jenny Valentish, Editor of J Mag and co-editor of Your Mother Would Be Proud, puts on her coat and scarf, and walks Windsor – home to an Olde Sweete Shoppe and several Etonians.
It’s true that Windsor’s on every tourist’s list, but as well as possessing the largest inhabited castle in the world, this Berkshire town has a female friendly slant the untrained eye might not pick up on. Windsor Royal Arcade off Thames Street is in the grand old station concourse and every time I return it’s cluttered with yet more boutiques and craft stalls (and let’s not forget Mr Simm’s Olde Sweet Shoppe).
Where there are boutiques, as the law goes, there are also coffee shops, and there are scores of them dotted around here — but since you’ll want to trundle off over the river on a pub crawl down Eton High Street at some point, weaving around young Etonians in tailcoats, you may as well fortify yourself with caffeine.
Periodically, the 60m-tall Royal Windsor Wheel sets up shop in Alexandria Gardens (it’s hired out around the country, so check www.royalwindsorwheel.com first), offering views as far as Canary Wharf.
If making an appearance at Christmas, it’s often accompanied by a sizeable ice rink and café. The less daring can just glug on glühwein — mulled wine to a German recipe — and admire the view of the river, where double rowing boats and motorboats are hireable by the half hour.
While Peascod Street is the main shopping drag, there’s plenty to unearth in the network of cobbled laneways right next to the castle. On Thames Street, Cath Kidson is overlooked by the Windsor Roast Pork Roll Company, while Church Lane is cluttered with Spanish taverns and checked red and white tablecloths.
Even if you don’t choose to stay in the achingly posh Harte & Garter directly overlooked by the castle’s medieval bastions, it’s an indulgent pitstop for afternoon tea and the spa set up in the stables.
Getting There: Windsor and Eton Station connects to London Waterloo. If driving, park at King Edward VII on Datchet Road and you’re guaranteed a space.
Photo: Courtesy Royal Windsor Wheel