Berkshire, United Kingdom

The Pheasant Inn

Price per night from$98.21

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 (GBP77.50), via, using today’s exchange rate.


Top of their game


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. 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


Photos The Pheasant Inn facilities

Need to know




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


Double rooms from £93.00, including tax at 20 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, coffee and Birchall teas.


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, coffee, still and sparkling water, fluffy bathrobes and Bramley 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 Bigger Boutique 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.


Up to two dogs can stay in rooms 2, 3 and 4, all of which have access to the garden, for £15 each per stay. See more pet-friendly hotels in Berkshire.


All ages are very welcome. There’s a kids’ menu, changing facilities and highchairs to borrow in the restaurant, and cots and extra beds can be added to some rooms (under-2s stay for free; ages 2–16 stay for £15 a night).

Best for

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

Recommended rooms

A free baby cot for under-2s or fold-out bed (for ages 2–16) can be added to all rooms for £15 a night. There are twin rooms for tweens and teens.


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.


While simple, the kids’ menu has the same high-quality produce the adults’ menu does, albeit in simpler more bite-size form. 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. The restaurant’s menu plucks top seasonal produce from close by, 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 delica pumpkin quinoa and wild mushroom risotto (there are gluten-free options too). It’s hearty stuff, but summon up the gastronomic fortitude for dessert, because fig and chestnut crumble, triple chocolate brownie, and sticky toffee pudding are West Country stomach-liners. 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. The espresso martinis hit the right spot too. Find your happy place in the snug or take your tipple to the garden. The bar is open from 11am to 11pm.

Last orders

Breakfast is served in the bar from 7.30am to 10am (on weekends, 8am to 10.30am). Lunch runs from 12pm to 5pm, Monday to Saturday and until 4pm, Sunday. Dinner is from 5pm to 9pm, Monday to Thursday; until 9.30pm, Friday and Saturday; until 8pm, Sunday.


Photos The Pheasant Inn location
The Pheasant Inn
Ermin St, Shefford Woodlands
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.


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.


The closest rail station is Hungerford, a 10-minute drive from the inn. Great Western Rail trains arrive direct from London Paddington in an hour, or from Bristol Temple Meads in 90 minutes.


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.


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.


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 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.

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Price per night from $98.21