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JUST SEVEN SATNAV MILES FROM LONDON'S WEST END but distant enough to feel like an out-of-town escape, the Michelin-starred Bingham sits beside the River Thames in leafy Richmond.

This chic Georgian townhouse treat is tailor-made for couples after an effortless weekend getaway from the big city, or who reckon that when it comes to London town, west is undeniably best.   

Behind its elegant facade, Bingham has a sleek and bold boutique-y feel – right up to its modish glass chandeliers and down to its trendy leather tub chairs. Tall Georgian windows, intricate coving and other original features are brilliantly offset by the distinctly contemporary decor.

Lounge on a leather sofa in the bar and work your way through the cocktail list (we loved the signature Bingham vodka spritz), or sit on the Thameside terrace  with a glass of fizz enjoying the evening rays. Stress-out London seemed a million miles away here – though it’s just half an hour by tube if you need your urban fix.

Poet’s corner

Bedrooms – many with original fireplaces and tall sash windows – are named after the poets who lived at this Georgian riverside address before Bingham was created. You can read some of their verses while you unpack.

We plumped for Baudelaire, with its big bay window overlooking the river gardens, fabulous travertine stone bathroom complete with a whirlpool bath for two and outsize rainfall shower, and a huge four-poster dressed in crispest cotton. We returned after dinner to find our bed scattered in rose petals and the room aglow with twinkling oil lamps.

Other gorgeous superior river design rooms incude Sappho and Callirrhoe, all decorated with ivory walls, big beds wrapped in white goose-down duvets, and dark wood furniture.  Technics are there too with wi-fi, a digital TV and DVD player, iPod docks and access to the hotel’s music collection. While standard bedrooms are not huge, all are smart and stylish in shades of chocolate and charcoal.

Dine out on Bingham's balcony in summer – its balustrade laced with tiny lights – or in the restaurant, with its gold-on-gold decor, suede banquettes and ornate mirrors. Shay Cooper’s menus major on modern British flavours, and there’s a surprisingly imaginative wine list.

A pre-prandial walk along the paved river walk, where weeping willows trail fronds in the water, is de rigueur. Turning left takes you through Petersham meadows, while right brings you past the pubs and riverside bars of Richmond town. There's also a hammock for indolent lolling in the hotel’s walled garden.

Who wants to join the big Friday motorway exodus from London when you can just roll down to Richmond and have your nearly-in-the-country weekend right here?  No prizes for guessing which one we'd choose.

© Room for Romance

Bingham was reviewed for Room for Romance by Mairiona Cotter

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