Hidden nooks, hand-picked wines and hearty meals make the Hare & Hounds Newbury a front-runner for a bucolic British stay, one that – as the name suggests – welcomes pooches with open arms. This 17th-century red-brick pub has modern rooms detailed with aged timber, racing-themed fabrics and some with roll-top copper bath tubs. Take your pick from beds in the stables, paddocks, hunters lodge or coach house, and then reward days of dog walking on the Berkshire Downs by taking your seat at a pint-laden pub table for every season: in the garden, by the bar or next to the crackling fire.
30, including three suites. Rooms are spread across four buildings: the Stables, Paddocks, Hunter’s Lodge, and Coach House.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability and an additional charge of £50. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £99.00, including tax at 20 per cent.
Rates include a hearty breakfast of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, breakfast baps or pancakes. You’ll want to properly peruse the drinks menu, too. The matcha and turmeric lattes, fresh juices and marimba hot chocolates will set you up for the day.
Newbury has had a hare-raising past: it began as a Saxon settlement, witnessed two battles in 1643 and 1644, and housed the American 101st Airborne Division during the Second World War. Nowadays, it’s well known for its one mile, seven furlong racecourse – proud home to the Hennessy Gold Cup – and its location on the idyllic Kennet canal.
At the hotel
Car park, WiFi, restaurant, bar. In rooms: WiFi, desk, bathrobes and slippers, Roberts radio, Nespresso machines, kettle and Joe’s Tea bags, Bramley bath products, pillow spray
Our favourite rooms
There’s little more luxurious than a copper roll-top bath tub: find yours in the Highclere Suite, Downton Suite or Bridle Suite.
Pack your swimmers – Newbury has one of the few remaining lidos in the UK (and it’s heated).
There are a selection of accessible rooms (with interconnecting room options), wheelchair access to the reception, restaurant and bar, and accessible parking.
All ground-floor rooms at the hotel are dog friendly, and you can bring your pooch for an additional £20 a dog, per night. Your furry friend will be treated to a dog bed, dog bowl and dog biscuits See more pet-friendly hotels in Berkshire.
Children are welcome, but note that there’s no kids club or crèche at the hotel.
The Hare & Hounds works to conserve water, reduce energy consumption and use less plastic throughout the hotel. You’ll find lovely bottles of Bramley products lining the bathrooms – hand-made with all-natural ingredients by a West Country apothecarist. The ingredients are 100 per cent biodegradable and cruelty free, and the packaging is recyclable. They’re also working closely with Newbury Catering College to offer apprenticeships and support further education within the hospitality industry.
If the weather allows, head out to the terrace. Bigger groups of six to eight might opt for one of the intimate side rooms just off the main dining room.
Walking boots and wellies are encouraged for post-walk pints in the bar, but spruce up for evening meals in the Barn dining room.
Make to the Barn dining room for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The farm-to-table menus evolve with the seasons, but you can always count on plenty of award-winning cheeses, organic vegetables and locally sourced meats. There are pub classics and hearty sunday roasts, but vegan and gluten free options are readily available too. We love the duck liver parfait, chestnut mushroom and truffle gnocchi, coronation chicken burger and grilled monkfish curry. Sweet tooths will be very satisfied: dessert options include apple and rhubarb crumble, sticky toffee pudding and vegan crème brûlée (repeat: vegan crème brûlée). On Sundays, choose from a trio of roasts, oak-smoked celeriac steak or dry-aged rump cap of beef with bone marrow gravy. Sides are predictably indulgent: add on extra homemade yorkshire puddings, smoked beef fat roasted potatoes and cauliflower cheese.
The classic British pint and crisps is somewhat elevated here: locally brewed craft ales can be ordered alongside pork scratchings dusted with smoked paprika, artisan sausage rolls, smoked ham and mature cheddar croquettes, and freshly baked sourdough with salted butter. And worry not – there’s plenty more to choose from if beer isn’t your thing. Try the chocolate orange martini, gin bramble, winter Pimms, or alcohol-free ginger mule.
Breakfast is served 7–10am; lunch 12 noon–2pm; and dinner 7–9.30pm. The bar closes at 11pm.
The Hare & Hounds is a hop, skip and jump from Newbury, in the tranquil village of Speen, West Berkshire.
Heathrow airport is a 45-minute drive from the hotel, and taxis cost around £75–100, depending on time and availability. Call the hotel in advance to organise.
Newbury train station is just two miles away by car, and the hotel can arrange transfers. The journey from London Paddington takes between 40 minutes and an hour.
There’s a private 24/7 car park at the hotel, the cost of which is included in your stay.
Worth getting out of bed for
Start with a stroll along the banks of the Kennet and Avon canal, or a potter around the historic market town of Newbury. Downton Abbey fans will recognise Highclere Castle. This turreted fortress has been owned by the Carnavon Family since 1679, and was the cinematic home to the Crawley family in season one of Downton. You can take a tour of the rooms, grounds and filming locations. The Lambourn valley way trail starts in Newbury town and follows the course of the River Lambourn for 20 scenic miles, or go slightly further into the North Wessex Downs – an acclaimed area of outstanding natural beauty, with bracing walks over chalk hills and cascading streams. Head to Bucklebury Farm Park to amble among a herd of deer – try to decipher between axis, fallow, sika and red species. You’ll see llamas, goats, pigs, sheep and chickens, too. After all that activity, catch a matinée at the unique, pocket-sized, 18th-century Watermill theatre.
Try celeriac carbonara, fig-leaf poached lobster, cauliflower orzo, and halibut with gnocchi and summer squash at Henry & Joes. The Globe is particularly pup friendly (treats, water bowls and blankets are provided for anything with paws), with a relaxed atmosphere, craft beers and pop-up food residencies. Thick sourdough crusts and generously-loaded bases await at Lusso – an easy-going pizza restaurant with topping choices including blue cheese, speck, wild mushrooms, crispy pancetta, and vegan mozzarella. Feast on hosomaki, sashimi and nigiri at Sushi Maki. The Japanese restaurant serves impeccably prepared plates of gyoza, black dragon rolls and sushi. There’s a separate vegan and veggie menu too – opt for the 22-piece platter if you simply can’t bear to choose.
Pick up a just-right flat white at Coffee #1, alongside a cinnamon bun or vegan croissant. Don’t miss the impressive array of cakes – try the super dark brownie, rhubarb and custard slice or Lotus biscoff cheesecake.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this dog friendly hotel in Berkshire and unpacked their unlikely combination of swimming costumes and wellies, a full account of their pub break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Hare & Hounds in Newbury…
There’s something exceptionally gratifying about a weekend in the British countryside – the brisk walks, afternoon pints and abundance of food – and the Hare & Hounds in Newbury certainly ticks these boxes. It takes just 40 minutes to reach Newbury by train from London Paddington, and yet you’ll feel far further from the big smoke. The spirited coaching inn has a glorious red brick exterior and laidback interior, where open fires, low beams and bold wallpapers take centre stage. Its affinity to the racing community is evident (rooms have equestrianised names), due to its proximity to Newbury racecourse. But there’s far more to Newbury than its horses and hounds: stroll the banks of the Avon canal, cycle the rolling Berkshire Downs, or visit Donnington and Highclere castle. Plus, one of the UK’s few remaining lidos is in Newbury (we’re pleased to report that it’s heated), and the Sunday market on Northbrook street is a melee of art, crafts, flowers, vintage clothes, and street food.