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Monkey Island Estate, Bray: Hotel Review

How does getting hitched on your own private island sound? We headed to Monkey Island Estate in Bray, Berkshire to explore what makes this luxury wedding venue amid the River Thames the perfect spot to say 'I do'

Outside river view of Monkey Island Estate wedding venue

Outside river view of Monkey Island Estate wedding venue

When you think of getting married on a private island your mind probably thinks of hopping on a plane and having to travel for miles to reach your destination. Well, that's not the case if you choose to wed at Money Island Estate in Berkshire, where you get all the perks of having seven acres of beautiful landscape and lush river views to yourself, located just a short distance from London. 

Originally commissioned as a fishing retreat by the third Duke of Marlborough in 1723, Monkey Island Estate is steeped in 800 years of history and has been the haunt of monarchs, artists and writers.

Now, having been renovated and restored into a truly tranquil wedding venue, we couldn't wait to head to the countryside and find out what all the fuss is about...


Situated just a 10 minutes drive from Windsor and an hours drive from central London, Monkey Island Estate is a hidden retreat nestled on a picturesque island in the historic village of Bray. As it is an island, how you choose to arrive really is up to you! Boat or helicopter, anyone?

If opting to drive, the reception and car park are located on the mainland, so once you've checked in you will cross a bridge over to the island to enter your very own oasis. The hotel's smiling team are more than happy to help you with your bags, and even carry them across the bridge in a sweet pull-along wicker basket. 

Surrounded by the River Thames, you'll instantly feel relaxed and at home, watching boats pass by and listening to the gentle burble of the water against the bank. 

Style & Vibe

The overall atmosphere of Monkey Island Estate is one of charming romance which is why it makes an ideal countryside chic wedding venue or mini-moon escape. Not only have you got absolute privacy if you choose to hire the whole venue out, the interiors and landscaped gardens are immaculate and stylish adding to the overall vibe.

Perfectly combining the original architecture with modern amenities, the Grade II listed, white bricked Temple and Pavilion date back to 1723 and are attached to the hotel's bedrooms. We recommend asking for a room with a river view and balcony - there's no better way to start the day than enjoying a morning cuppa overlooking the water. 

There's also six private residencies with indoor and outdoor pools, which are the perfect place for friends and family to stay or for newlyweds to spend their first night together in. 

The wedding event spaces are timeless and glamourous, including the elegant River Room for your ceremony and the mirror walled Marlborough Ballroom for your reception.

Food & Drink

Attached to the Pavilion is the hotel's river-side restaurant and bar area. Sleek and stylish, enjoy modern British cuisine with views of the River Thames.  
Being located by the water, the seafood is naturally a brilliant choice and the salmon is even smoked in house so we highly recommend the Egg's Royale for breakfast. If you're after canapes for your wedding guests, Chef Alex is serving up modern takes on well-loved classics - the watermelon and cheese ball is a delicious option.  

Thinking of heading out for dinner? The village of Bray is also well known for its restaurants, boasting seven Michelin Star venues including Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck and the world renowned Roux family’s Waterside Inn.

What to Do

If the sun is shining, take a walk around the estate to enjoy the breathtaking views and peaceful setting. There's several seating areas dotted around the place, or if you head to the far end of the estate you'll find a glorious greenhouse and vegetable patch. Contrary to its name, Monkey Island Estate isn't home to any monkeys, (it's actually named after monks who used to reside there), but you will find some chickens and resident rooster Trevor if you fancy making friends.
Taking a cruise down the river in the Kingfisher boat is a must, especially accompanied with fizz and canapes. Newlyweds can even escape for a few romantic moments alone on the river boat before their reception which we think is a lovely idea. 
A further must-try activity at Monkey Island Estate is their Floating Spa. Yep, you read that right, their spa is housed aboard a specially built barge moored along the banks. As if we couldn't get any more relaxed, the 5 Gem Massage is a blissful experience, finished off with a calming warm drink and sweet treat in the boat's cabin and Elixir bar. 

What to Instagram

If you hadn't guessed by now, the quicker answer would be what not to Instagram. We couldn't help snapping a few shots of the river views but another shining glory at Monkey Island Estate is their Shepherd's Huts. One is a fully equipped bar, perfect for serving Aperol Spritz from if you're having an outside reception, and the other is a Shepherd's Hideaway. Gather around the firepit and toast marshmallows next to your very own hut.

We were also in awe after looking up while enjoying a tipple in the hotel's Monkey Room. The ceiling was restored by English Heritage and is painted with beautiful scenes of monkeys that definitely deserve a spot on your Instagram feed. 

Best For…

Monkey Island Estate captures the charm of a river-side setting, while providing gold standard service and dining. Couples looking for a home away from home for their wedding or mini-moon will no doubt find it here and it's a brilliant option for both intimate and larger celebrations. 
If a little slice of heaven in the English countryside is what you're after, we say look no further...

Essential Info

Nightly rates at Monkey Island Estate start from £275, per room, per night in a Temple Room. To book, contact YTL UK Reservations Centre at or call +44 (0) 207 657 8200