Top places to live in Oxfordshire Henley-on-Thames
A stunner of a riverside town with excellent restaurants and shops Henley is hard to beat (although you'll be paying for it!). Part of our Top 200 Places to Live series.
One of the loveliest riverside towns in Oxfordshire (and yes, you’ll pay for it), Henley has thrown off its blue rinse reputation in recent years and become a sought after hub for families and urban exiles attracted to its art house cinema, gazillions of home turf festivals (the Regatta of course, but also well established literature and music fests), and its impressive foodie scene.
You’ll never stop eating here. There’s relaxed dining at Bistro at the Boathouse on the river, fine dining at Orwell’s in nearby Shiplake (a lovely 2km walk) and relaxed brunches and family lunches at the stylish Bull on Bell St pub. The local Hotel Du Vin is a good cocktail stop with a lovely enclosed courtyard. A lovely walk down the river to Shiplake will take you to The Baskerville (get the chugger train back to Henley if your kids are too tired to walk back after lunch). The Angel on the Bridge has the loveliest riverside location, and Harrods’ café holds best bragging rights outside Knightsbridge. Fine dining at Crockers in Henley opens in August and will be mighty. Relax the waistband before entry.
Henley has a decent mix of national staples (Waitrose, Whistles, Mint Velvet, Joules, Space NK) and independent brands – Fluidity for designer fashion (local celebs and TV presenters ebb flow through regularly), Brook House for interiors, and Gorvett & Stone for artisan choccies. Coffee lovers will head to Harris + Hoole, Drifters or the teeny tiny Hot Gossip café. Always a good sign to have an indie bookshop and happily The Bell bookshop continues to thrive, as does the arthouse Regal Picturehouse. Brand new Montpelier Interiors is your go-to for gorgeous, quirky homewares and vintage finds. Plenty of good hairdressers – my pick is Elements, an excellent Aveda salon, and there’s no absence of beauty and aesthetic clinics for the well-heeled.
One of my favourite National Trusts ever, the stunning Greys Court (make a date for April, the bluebell wood is incredible) is just outside Henley. The River & Rowing Museum in the town centre is great for kids and has brilliant bijou exhibitions – David Hockney, Monet and Barbara Hepworth have all shown in the unpretentious space. You’re close to Marlow for a
AVERAGE HOUSE PRICE
£717,060. I know, ouch. In 2019, terraced properties sold for an average price of £596,718, detached properties cost an average of £1,035,636, and flats were £527,826. Good local estate agents in the area are Davis Tate, Richard Jackson Property Consultants and Penny & Sinclair.
Plenty of excellent options in this well-heeled area. Check out top girls’ prep school Godstowe (20 mins), well-respected boys day and boarding prep school Moulsford (25 mins), the mixed Catholic day or boarding Oratory Prep, or in the town itself there’s the pastorally strong St Mary’s Prep. For secondary education there’s progressive Quaker school Leighton Park and academic girls’ school The Abbey (both 20 mins).
BEST KEPT SECRET
Russell Brand and Mary Berry are both locals – that kind of sums up Henley right there.
33 miles and 1 hour 14 from Henley to London – not quitedirect, you need to change at Twyford (4 miles away from Henley). Season train ticket is £4000+. Driving to London takes 1 hour 9m. Reading is 20 minutes peak rail travel.
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