What is the story?
This friendly former coaching inn opened its doors at the beginning of the year after a complete renovation. The Georgian viewer falls under Grosvenor pubs, which include the Kings Arms in Egham, Surrey, and the Crown in Ampney Brook, Cotswolds. Like those, it follows a mantra of attracting locals first, making it a lively bar, as well as overnight guests. Take part in a great racing weekend (Newbury Racecourse is less than a ten minute drive away) and there is a dynamic atmosphere of celebrated victories. Guests dress up for Saturday night.
What do we like?
The theme is glitzy rural – so the odd piece of taxidermy (I spotted a fox and a barn owl in the bar), animal print wallpaper (I liked the variety of red horses in the restaurant/bar restrooms) and quirky dog portraits. The aforementioned bar is lit up for a date night and cozy with tartan wallpaper, with plenty of dark corners to hide in and a fireplace that needs to be toasty warm in winter. Next door is the barn dining room (under a vast antler chandelier), offering everything from lamb chop curry to a plant-based burger and fish and chips.
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The crispy duck entree was nicely textured and the chicken Caesar salad had a delicious smoke after being cooked on a Robata grill. Breakfast is also served here, from a modestly sized buffet with extras including Scottish sausages and pancakes. There is a small courtyard covered with sheepskin rugs outside, which will be more tempting (to me, at least) in the summer.
The coach house has compact but smartly appointed rooms
The 30 rooms are split between the main coach house and three outbuildings – the old stables (where the rooms are, as you would expect, compact but smartly appointed), the paddocks and the hunter’s lodge, where we were lodged. Considering the low ceilings, the Richard Osman types might prefer to avoid it, although our room was comfortable and luxurious with more horse signs in the curtains, more wood for the bedside lamps and a huge marble bath. copper. I also liked the look of Arden (in the coach house) with its views of Donnington Castle. A glass carafe of sloe gin will help you drift off to sleep if you are disturbed by noise from the fairly busy Bath road on which the hotel is located.
Newbury for motor racing fans; the town’s Sunday market and canalside promenades for moochers; Hungerford’s antique shops for shoppers; and the ruins of Donnington Castle for dog walkers and families. Look for the river madness on the way up and pause at the top for sweeping views over the surrounding fields and towards Newbury.
Jenny Coad was a guest at Hare & Hounds, which offers B&B doubles from £140; mains from £14.95 (hareandhoundsnewbury.co.uk)
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