A stunning seven acres of bucolic land shaped like a fish, in the midst of the River Thames, is home to the elegant Monkey Island Estate.

The island, and its hotel, is the latest addition to the Malaysian-owned YTL Hotels portfolio after the group revamped the Grade I-listed pavilions into a relaxing retreat, close to the riverside foodie destination of Bray, near Maidenhead.

The island itself is steeped in a rich historical cocktail of monks and monarchs, artists and aristocrats, with the likes of Queen Victoria, H. G Wells, and First World War poet Siegfried Sassoon among visitors. It is also known as the place where Sir Edward Elgar worked on his first violin concerto.

The only disappointment comes with the realisation that the island’s name has little to do with monkeys; it’s an exotic label that has long been puzzling historians.

Many believe the truth lies with its religious beginnings – the island being inhabited by the monks of Merton Abbey in the 12th century.

The tranquil Berkshire bolthole was christened at this point Monks Eyot – meaning Island in Middle English – leading some historians to speculate this as the root of the ‘Monkey’ in question.

It spent several hundred years as God’s land before being acquired by the Englefield family in 1606. Soon after, it became a dumping ground for rubble from passing barges transporting Oxfordshire stone to the capital for construction after the Great Fire of London – inadvertently providing a solid foundation for the plucky little island..

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Monkey Island eventually fell into the hands of the 3rd Duke of Marlborough, Charles Spencer, in 1723 when he bought it with a vision of creating his very own fishing retreat. It was these plans that paved the way for the two-storey temple and octagonal pavilion that remain at the heart of the island today.

Upon arrival at the Monkey Island Estate, cross the wooden footbridge from the mainland and you are instantly immersed in a feeling of seclusion.

Like something out of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 novel The Secret Garden, the atmosphere of seclusion and discovery almost sends shivers down the spine as you enter the secret world of Monkey Island.

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Gloriously traditional planting and swathes of natural borders bring together an abundance of colourful wildflowers that lead you up to the buildings themselves.

Flowerbeds pattern every pathway, while mature trees border the gentle flowing Thames, evoking romance and relaxation.

The buildings have been expensively redeveloped to create a swish sanctuary, that isn’t a far cry from their quintessential past.

The island’s history is expertly woven into its very core, and for guests who were hoping to spot a primate or two, there is still hope: they can see them laced into the décor of wildly decorated wallpaper, simian statues, and the magnificent 17th century frescos that adorn the ceiling of the Monkey Room.

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Adjoining the historical hideaway is a labyrinth of passages leading to the Monkey Bar, Whisky Snug, ballroom and the restaurant where guests can find a hidden corner to enjoy the seclusion.

The estate does well to live up to the village’s top gastronomic status, with Bray boasting three Michelin-starred restaurants; Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck and The Hind’s Head, and the Roux brother’s Waterside Inn.

Vaulted ceilings, an impressive wine wall, and open kitchen provide an intimate but informal setting within the estate for anything from afternoon tea packages to a delectable dinner offering. The menu includes the ploughman’s platter, complete with Cobble Lane Charcuterie, vintage poacher sausage roll and more; or the Fisherman’s Pie or Cornish catch of the day – each under £20.

For us it was the taste bud-bursting Bream in a white sauce accompanied by shellfish, before continuing the party with the Creedy Carver duck breast and duck leg sausage roll, wild mushrooms, potato dumplings, and red wine jus.

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For dessert, it was a hearty sticky toffee pudding flooded with sauce as a perfectly gooey finale urging diners to sink satisfied into in their cosy surroundings.

An absolute must-have on the Monkey Island menu is the estate-smoked Loch Duart Salmon served with herb infused goats curd, shallots, capers, foraged sea herbs and pickled cucumber. The coral-coloured slithers offering a fresh punch to the pallet, having been smoked to perfection in the island’s own smokehouse.

The smokehouse sits at the far end of the island, where a whimsical wander uncovered a whole other side to the estate.

There is great pleasure in finding hotels that strive to forage and make use of the fruitful land around them, and Monkey Island Estate is no exception.

Its local appreciation comes in the form varied homegrown delights the team are currently developing in their ‘kitchen garden’.

This already includes the chicken coop for island eggs, which as a happy coincidence provide a beautiful detour for a morning stroll round the island.

Then there is the herb garden, the work-in-progress pickling garden, active beehives providing honeycomb for breakfasts and the abundance of historic walnut trees that went on to adorn several cakes and brownies from the afternoon tea.

The team at Monkey island Estate also spoke of plans to produce its own tea – despite its already impressive variety – making it the only place outside of Cornwall in the UK to achieve such an offering if so.

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Every little detail brings you back to that self-reliant, secluded aura of an English country garden that encompasses the estate from the moment you step aboard.

Charming shepherds’ huts sit nestled within the grounds to provide an evening retreat for guests after dinner. Star gazing over a crackling fire pit, a boozy hot chocolate laced with spiced rum and Bailey’s in hand, you’d be forgiven for thinking you weren’t just a stone’s throw from the M4.

And if that isn’t enough to send you into an insanely satisfied stupor, moored along the island’s riverbank is the dragonfly boat.

Whether it be a sunset cruise, or a midday jaunt, the boat provides an alternative way to sit back, relax and take in Bray’s beautiful surroundings

Moored up on the other side of the island is The Floating Spa where ‘wellness experts’ offer treatments inspired by the monks who once inhabited the island.

A weekend stay within this laidback luxury surrounds leaves one feeling rested and revived and is a reflection of its impressive restoration and intriguing history

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Nightly rates at Monkey Island Estate start from £275, per room, per night in a Temple Room – monkeyislandestate.co.uk

Located just one mile from Maidenhead and minutes from the M4, access also available by boat or helicopter with prior arrangements.