There’s a distinctly rural feel to Richmond, the picturesque borough perched between south-west London and Surrey. Home to a huge, rambling deer park and a particularly pretty stretch of riverside, the leafy neighbourhood offers a slice of country living, just 30 minutes from the centre of the capital. Encapsulating this feel is Richmond Harbour Hotel & Spa, which sits proudly at the top of Richmond Hill on the fringes of the park. The white, Georgian building once housed the Richmond Gate Hotel, which grew somewhat tired over the years – but Harbour Hotels stepped in to transform it some years ago, opening its first London property in 2018. There were a few hurdles along the way – notably Covid, and a fire – but the hotel is now up and running again, complete with a brand-new spa.
Review: Richmond Harbour Hotel & Spa
A clear highlight here is the décor. From the outside, the building hasn’t changed much since its early years – yet inside is quirky and contemporary. When designing the hotel Anthony Rudolph aimed to capture the boho spirit of the area, creating the feel of visiting your artsy friend’s house. Guests arrive to a bright and airy lobby, complete with a large upside-down tree installation and a colourful wall of Hunter wellies – a pair of which you can borrow for a stroll around the park. This sense of vibrancy continues throughout, with eclectic artworks dotted around the walls, bright upholstery and artfully arranged bookshelves.
There are 90 bedrooms spread across the main building and a new wing, ranging from Cosy Double to Deluxe – some with private balconies. These aren’t overly luxurious, but contain everything you need, with large, comfortable beds to flop into, jazzed up with cylindrical cushions monogrammed with the hotel’s initials. Special touches include White Company toiletries, and complimentary gin and sherry, with many rooms featuring nature-inspired prints from London-based artist Kristjana S Williams.
Relaxation is the order of the day here. The hotel’s new spa features a 20-metre indoor pool, a sauna and a steam room, plus a just-opened garden, complete with a Scandinavian-style outdoor hot tub. For those keen to get a different kind of sweat on, there’s a well-equipped gym alongside a programme of fitness classes, from Pilates to HIIT and martial arts. There are also 13 treatment rooms offering everything from facials to body scrubs. We’d recommend the full body hot-stone massage, which uses the heat of volcanic basalt stones to reach deep into tired muscles – utter bliss. Afterwards, float to the relaxation room where swinging seats will lull you into a peaceful slumber.
The only slight downside of this spa is that it can get very busy, as it’s open for outside membership alongside hotel guests – but if you pick the right day, the space feels lovely and serene.
An amble around the local area should also be part of the agenda. Richmond Park is on your doorstep, and down the hill you’ll find an array of cosy pubs and independent shops. In terms of restaurants, Petersham Nurseries is just a short walk away, and in town the Gladwin brothers have recently opened a new venture called The Fat Badger, which offers farm-to-table fare near the riverside.
You’ll want to spend a lot of time at The Gate, the hotel’s buzzy restaurant and bar. A glass roof creates a bright, airy feel, with botanical-inspired décor and pops of colour – think hanging plants, velvet blue bar stools and fringed lampshades. A Moroccan-inspired elevated lounge, meanwhile, features low-lit cosy corners and sofas to sink into with a tipple. The vibe is low-key and relaxed, with friendly staff getting the perfect balance between helpful and over-attentive.
Simple, seasonal dining is the focus here, with a menu of burgers, grills and plant-based dishes to choose from. Begin with grilled scallops, cured beef carpaccio or some homemade focaccia before getting stuck into the generously portioned mains: there’s kale tagliatelle with goat’s cheese and pesto, and duck leg confit with spiced red cabbage, plus classics like fish and chips, and flat iron steak with fries. For an extra treat, pop some mac ‘n’ cheese on the side – and pair with a cocktail or two: our winners were the Grapefruit Margarita and the Clover Club – gin, lemon juice, egg whites and raspberry cordial.
THE FINAL WORD
If you’re looking for a countryside-style escape without the long journey, Richmond Harbour Hotel is sure to fit the bill. Visit for a wholesome weekend of spa pampering, walks and great food – all for a very reasonable price. The hotel is sure to be particularly dreamy come summer time, when its central courtyard will cry out for long leisurely lunches with a glass of rosé.