Berkshire, United Kingdom

The Pheasant Inn

Price per night from$131.14

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (GBP95.83), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Top of their game

Setting

Bucolic Berkshire downs

Boutique Berkshire bolthole the Pheasant Inn is the kind of country pub with rooms where we’d happily wait out the winter. Under the guidance of Jack Greenall (whose family has been pulling pints and putting people up since the 1750s) and with a ground-up makeover from designers Flora Soames and Octavia Dickinson, this 450-year-old former drovers’ rest has recently seen more cosmopolitan sorts flocking here for cookery that shows off the best of the North Wessex Downs’ farm finds and rooms with polished yet characterful Brit charm. But, it’s struck the Goldilocks principle in that locals settle by the fire for pints in equal numbers; it’s easily reached from London yet surrounded by greenery; and for a room the prices are just right.

Smith Extra

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A cocktail each for two

Facilities

Photos The Pheasant Inn facilities

Need to know

Rooms

11.

Check–Out

11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.

Prices

Double rooms from £118.13, including tax at 5 per cent.

More details

Rates usually include the à la carte breakfast, with a full English and veggie version, eggs any way, avo on toast. Pastries, muesli, juices, Birchall teas and Mozzo Coffee brews.

Also

The hotel’s restaurant is wheelchair-accessible, but not the rooms.

At the hotel

Garden, snug, sheltered courtyard, selection of books to borrow, free WiFi. In rooms: flatscreen smart TV, Roberts DAB radio which connects with MP3 players, Birchall teas and coffee from Mozzo Coffee, still and sparkling water from Blenheim Palace, fluffy bathrobes and Bamford toiletries.

Our favourite rooms

Each room is different, so favourites will change according to whether you’re particularly drawn to mustard and navy hues, geometric patterns or taxidermied birds. However, the Premium Double Rooms are our choice for the bit of extra space they offer, especially handy for families.

Packing tips

A copy of the Racing Post if you fancy a flutter. And bring sturdy boots for hiking the downs.

Also

Go all Famous Five, having a ‘jolly hockey sticks’ time on a picnic in the countryside (must be ordered 24 hours in advance).

Pet‐friendly

Dogs can stay in rooms 2, 3 and 4, all of which have access to the garden, for £10 a stay. See more pet-friendly hotels in Berkshire.

Children

All ages are very welcome. There’s a kids’ menu (the milkshakes will go down a treat), changing facilities and highchairs to borrow in the restaurant, and extra beds (for under-12s) can be added to some rooms for £20 a stay.

Best for

All ages are welcome, juniors will probably get the most enjoyment from bombing around the garden and countryside.

Recommended rooms

A baby cot or fold-out bed (for under-12s) can be added to all rooms for £20 a night; however, the Even Bigger Comfy Luxe Rooms or Lookout Room 5 will be the comfiest. There are twin rooms for tweens and teens.

Activities

There are some board games and puzzles at the pub, but it’s likely you’ll want to get some fresh air as a family on gentle trails through the downs. If you have a car, and it really will come in handy, you can visit Legoland Windsor, Go Ape and Windsor Castle or arrange for kayaking sessions and play paintball.

Meals

While simple, the kids’ menu has the same high-quality produce the adults’ menu does, albeit in simpler more bite-size form, with Kelmscott sausages and mash, battered fish, mac and cheese and mini roasts, plus ice-cream for desserts and a milkshake menu.There are baby-changing facilities onsite and highchairs to borrow too.

No need to pack

There’s not a great deal of baby kit onsite, so be prepared if you have a very little one; otherwise bring any favoured toys and distractions.

Food and Drink

Photos The Pheasant Inn food and drink

Top Table

Gather round the fire in winter or grab a booth for intimate gatherings.

Dress Code

Lord and lady of the manor loosen up.

Hotel restaurant

Area of Natural Beauty, the North Wessex Downs happens to have a strong community of farmers, bakers, cheese-makers, vintners, brewers and cideries (say, Harvey and Brockless for goat cheeses, Marlborough Mushrooms and Walter Rose and Son butchers). As luck would have it, the Pheasant Inn is smack bang in the centre. Head chef Andy Watts has clearly endeared himself, as the restaurant’s menu plucks top seasonal produce from close by: Wiltshire steaks with confit garlic, lamb rack with a rosemary and red-wine sauce, home-cured duck ‘ham’ with celeriac. Sea-to-plate eats hail from Cornwall’s Flying Fish Seafood, and vegetarians and vegans have an impressive amount of choice, with their own menu starring wine-glazed mushroom parfait, linguini with Mediterranean vegetables and a stacked bean burger (there are gluten-free options too). It’s hearty stuff, but summon up the gastronomic fortitude for dessert, because fig and marsala trifle, Ferrero Rocher mousse with cherry compote, and lemon and mascarpone sorbetto with pickled hedgerow berries are West Country stomach-liners with an Italianate edge. On Sundays, go for the sharers: whole Cotswolds chicken with sausage and apricot stuffing, or chateaubriand with all the trimmings. Understandably, this is a popular spot, so it’s advised to book in advance. And, the hotel’s build-your-own hampers come packed with lashings of homemade lemonade, pork pies, apricot and sage sausage rolls, Westcombe cheddar and piccalilli sandwiches, cherry bakewells and more Continental picks, such as charcuterie boards, sardinillas and Spanish mussels. There’s a lengthy list to choose from, including meat-eater and veggie barbecue packs, and each basket holds 12 items.

Hotel bar

The hotel’s main bar draws in the locals, especially on race days and bank holiday weekends when there’s live music. A fire-warmed space trimmed in aged wood and red-wine and racing-green leather, with flowers, prints and book-stacked shelves, it feels very homey. But it’s not the only place to enjoy their list of 70 wines (from noted suppliers Berry Bros & Rudd and Bibendum), 50 gins, 10 vodkas, 30 whiskies and nine beers – of which the hotel’s own Pheasant Ale is a refreshing pick. The espresso martinis hit the right spot too. Find your happy place in the snug or take your tipple to the garden.

Last orders

Breakfast is served in the bar from 7.30am to 10.30am. Lunch in the restaurant and bar runs from 12 noon to 3pm, Monday to Saturday and till 4pm on Sunday. Dinner is from 5.30pm to 8.45pm, and the bar is open from 11am to 10pm.

Location

Photos The Pheasant Inn location
Address
The Pheasant Inn
Ermin St, Shefford Woodlands
Hungerford
RG17 7AA
United Kingdom

The Pheasant Inn sits in Berkshire’s Valley of the Racehorse, so called for the thoroughbreds that train in its patchwork of fields. Charming market town Hungerford is a 10-minute drive away.

Planes

From international hub Heathrow you’re just an hour’s drive away; the hotel can arrange transfers for £90 each way. Alternatively, Southampton has arrivals from main cities in Europe and is just an hour’s drive away.

Trains

The closest rail station is Hungerford, a 10-minute drive from the inn (or the hotel will pick you up for £15 each way). Great Western Rail trains arrive direct from London Paddington in an hour, or from Bristol Temple Meads in 90 minutes.

Automobiles

Driving in from London is a doddle for minibreakers, a journey that clocks in at just two hours. Follow the M4 then exit at junction 14, from which the hotel is a minute’s drive; there’s free parking onsite.

Other

If you’re lucky enough to have access to a chopper, by all means drop in on the hotel’s grounds, by prior arrangement.

Worth getting out of bed for

They haven’t designated the North Wessex Downs an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty for nothing: with their rolling chalk hills, thick woodland and picturesque pastures, and lasting literary clout as the backdrop for Thomas Hardy tomes, they’ll enchant you out of the cosiness of your room for brisk walks. And, the countryside is peppered with quaint villages and historic market towns. First, investigate Lambourn, long known for its equine excellence, has so many horse-training grounds in its orbit that the surrounding area is known as the Valley of the Racehorse. Then, go on the hunt for a treasured souvenir in gloriously Georgian Hungerford’s antique stores and markets – with more than 100 dealers, the Hungerford Arcade (26–27 High Street, Hungerford RG17 0NF) is a good place to start. Here, you can catch a narrowboat ride along the Kennet and Avon Canal; try Sally Narrowboats for day trips. On the banks of the Kennet you’ll also find Marlborough, a handsome town with architectural styles that range from half-timbers to grand redbricks. It’s at its most bustling on Wednesdays and Saturdays when market stalls are set up along the high street (the second widest in England, no less), as they have been for centuries. After pottering about, take diversions to Savernake Forest, which was given some structure by great gardener-of-old Capability Brown, and to see the mysterious Avebury Stones, 4,000 year-old Neolithic monuments that – unlike at sister site Stonehenge – you can wander around and see up close. Then, practice your ‘how d’you dos?’ for a visit to Highclere Castle, home to the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon and star location of Downton Abbey. It’s set in 1,000 acres of parkland (another Capability Brown legacy) and it’s open to the public for 60 to 70 days a year. Other regal hotspots in the area include Welford Park (open from 1 February to 5 March each year), famed for its Queen Anne manor and dainty dusting of snowdrops come spring, and Wickham House, a towering late-18th-century residence. There are meets year-round at Newbury Racecourse, and live music and events when the fillies aren’t flying round the track, so it’s worth seeing what’s on. And, for more tropical foliage, explore the Living Rainforest’s vast greenhouse just a 20-minute drive away. 

Local restaurants

You should aim to book the hotel restaurant for at least one night of your stay, but if it’s packed out then you have other options. Modern eatery the Woodspeen has picture windows filled with country sights for sore eyes and an open kitchen for dramatic flair. Seasonally shifting menus with sumptuous local produce might include hand-dived scallops with homemade black pudding and crispy chicken skin, cured monkfish tail with Wiltshire bacon and chorizo emulsion, or a miso-caramel fool with banana jam and rum and raisin ice-cream. Away from his native Padstow, Rick Stein’s Marlborough joint has an equally deft hand with fish and seafood. Mackerel with raita, Dover sole meunière and crab sandwiches are bursting with coastal flavour. And to get your teeth into Berkshire’s famed meat in style, head to the Vineyard, where chef Tom Scade (formerly of the Ritz) works tender local lamb and sika deer into artful dishes. We’re fond of his pig’s trotter cake with turnip and apricot too.

Local cafés

Cobbs Farm Shop and Kitchen in Hungerford is a delightful lunch spot with seasonal salads, daily pates and warming fish or shepherd’s pies for mains. Its afternoon tea eschews daintiness for decadence too, with doorstop sarnies, packed sausage rolls and oversized scones.

Local bars

The Five Bells in Wickham is prettily thatched and offers a warm welcome, plus there’s plenty of space in its beer garden and the food is simple, honest and filling.

Reviews

Photos The Pheasant Inn reviews

Anonymous review

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 friendly local and boutique hotel by the Valley of the Racehorse proudly pocketing their race winnings, a full account of their outdoorsy break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Pheasant Inn in the Berkshire Downs…

For hundreds of years livestock drovers quite literally flocked to the Pheasant Inn as they guided their sheep from Wales to London. But, the bar (or ‘baa’) has been raised since Jack Greenall, whose family’s tenure in hospitality has been going strong since the 1750s, took over and ushered in designers Flora Soames and Octavia Dickinson for an elegant epicurean makeover. There are just 11 rooms, but each has a strong character: some have statement headboards and wallpaper prints that pop, some are boldly coloured and all have ‘look at me’ artworks and curious trappings, say a taxidermied pheasant… Little luxuries – a selection of Birchall teas and Mozzo coffee, and snuggly duck-down duvets – are much appreciated too, and families are welcomed warmly. But, it’s not the Berkshire way to hole yourself up in your room, even if it is as cosy as can be. Locals really do frequent the unpretentious pub year round, but arrive especially jubilant after lucky days at nearby Newbury Racecourse (jockeys and trainers take part in the festivities too) and on bank holidays when live music is played. Try to secure your seat by the fire early and be prepared for a friendly chinwag or three over pints of the hotel’s own Pheasant Ale. Getting in early is also recommended for the restaurant, because if carousers from a hunting party pip you to the post for black-pudding Scotch eggs with honey and a bacon crumb, a slab of Wiltshire chateaubriand with confit garlic and Ferrero Rocher mousse with cherry compote, you’ll have shot yourself in the foot. And, considering the hotel is just a minute’s drive from the M4, you’re deep in the green stuff here, with racehorse-training compounds, farms and fields for miles around, and Downton Abbey itself (well, Highclere Castle) close by. So, by hook or by crook, get yourself to this refined rural hideaway.

Price per night from $131.14

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