Because my flight home from Sardinia went through London Heathrow and I had an overnight layover, I opted to stay in Windsor, about 30 minutes from the airport, rather than London, which I’d visited plenty of times. My British friend, Martin, had recommended it.
I arrived around 6, and was delighted at how quaint High Street was (in the UK, High Street is usually what we’d call Main Street; the primary street in a town where the shops are). It was Thanksgiving, but just like we do in the US, the town was already decorated for Christmas.
Macdonald Windsor: Right in the Heart of the Town
One of the perks of being a travel writer is that sometimes I’m given a comped hotel room in exchange for a review. It’s not hard to rave about Macdonald Windsor, a boutique hotel right smack in the middle of Windsor. As soon as I stepped into the gorgeously decorated lobby, I was greeted with a pleasant blast of heat, which was nice after the crisp night air (I’m a SoCal girl. I don’t handle winter well).
I giggled when I entered The Opal room. It was huge and luxurious. After staying on a farm in Sardinia (which was amazing), I was ready to be pampered.
But the bathroom did me in. I’d been awkwardly navigating the tiny confines of a European shower (the size of an upright coffin) for a week, and here before me was the most magnificent deep tub. I immediately dumped my bags and started the water. I slid into the steaming bath, munched the apple that was in the fruit basket waiting for me, and sighed with pleasure.
A Twinkling Stroll
I had dinner reservations in an hour, so I reluctantly got out of the bath, bundled up, and headed to the street. Most shops (are they automatically “shoppes” when they’re in such a quaint village?) were closed, but the windows were decorated with white Christmas lights and decorations.
I stopped in my tracks. Across the street was a brick wall with a turret…oh! That’s Windsor Castle! Hello! And on a turret was a moving light display. It instantly put me in the holiday spirit.
I window shopped a bit and planned to do some speed shopping in the morning before my flight.
An Unconventional Thanksgiving
I don’t do traditional Thanksgiving. At all. And I didn’t even realize I was in Windsor for Thanksgiving until I sat down to eat at the very cozy Tapas Revolution. When I walked in, I became disoriented.
“Buenas noches!” the hostess called in a Catalan accent. After being in Italy and speaking Italian for a week, I was confused about where I was and how to respond. I speak Spanish a bit, but not after so much Italian!
If you’ve never had tapas, I encourage you to try them. They are small plates, designed to be shared. Of course, I was on my own, so I ordered far too much food, but…let me just say: this was the best tapas I’ve had outside of Spain. Maybe even including what I ate in Spain.
I got excited when I saw pan con tomate on the menu. It’s such a simple thing: good bread toasted, then rubbed with garlic and then a cut tomato. But I have been unable to replicate it back home. Such is the pain of traveling and eating great food you can only get when you travel. But then I got to the patatas bravas and forgot about the bread. Perfectly crispy nuggets of potato that are soft and steaming inside, these gems are sparingly doused with an amazing aioli sauce. Gawd. I want some right now.
I also had chicken paella (I’m allergic to seafood paella so I was happy to have an option). It was mediocre compared to the other dishes. As I sipped a glass of Pere Ventura Tresor Rosado Cava (Cava is Spain’s version of Champagne, and this was a rose version), I chuckled to myself at how much more I liked this meal over dry turkey and dressing.
I closed the meal out with perfect churros with chocolate dipping sauce. I couldn’t resist!
Sorry, Queen Elizabeth. We’ll Have Tea Next Time
I’d planned to visit Windsor Castle in the morning, but when I calculated when I needed to leave for the airport, I realized I didn’t have time to do it justice. So I ambled down the Long Walk outside the castle gates and took a few eerie photos in the fog before hitting the shops.
There were a surprising number of thrift stores in Windsor. I make collage projects, so I snagged some old magazines with Queen Elizabeth on her wedding day for just a few dollars. I’m sure she was disappointed that we couldn’t have tea together, but Windsor captured my heart, so I’d go back any time.
Macdonald Windsor and Tapas Revolution provided comped accommodations and a meal in exchange for this review, but all opinions are my own.