Over to my sister to share with you her fantastic review of the Wellington Arms, a much needed no-kids country escape!
As our Christmas gift to each other this year, we opted for a blissful night in the countryside without the kids. Who needs a new handbag when you can have a guilt-free boozy dinner followed by a lazy lie-in? We didn’t fancy a glitzy impersonal hotel with a busy spa and pool, rather a cosy country pub with a handful of rooms. And the Wellington Arms delivered on all accounts.
Planning the trip
A quick trawl of our usual sources – TripAdvisor, newspaper hotel reviews and trusted Facebook groups – uncovered a few likely candidates. I phoned around to see where we could score a room and a dinner reservation at the last minute. Although the Wellington Arms could only offer us a dinner booking at the very start or the very end of service (that’s what happens when you only book a couple of days ahead!) it looked like it was exactly what we were after. I then did a bit more digging and discovered that it had been very well received by some well-known critics. If it’s good enough for Giles Coren then it’s certainly good enough for us!!
It took an hour to drive from our home in Hertfordshire (just outside London) to the pub in Baughurst, Hampshire. Be careful if you’re using using Google to navigate, as there is another pub in the vicinity with the same name.
The pub closes between 3pm and 6pm so check-in is between 1pm and 3pm or after 6pm. This actually suited us well as it was nice not to have to do the usual wait until 3pm for a check-in at a standard hotel.
The pub currently offers four rooms, the Hayloft, the Barn, the Apartment and the Cart House. We took a quick peek at the Apartment. This is above the pub, and is the largest room on offer, and is comprised of a bedroom and a separate sitting area.
We stayed in the newly opened Cart House, which is set in its own small building just next door to the pub. This stunning bedroom has a small seating area and a simple, but luxurious, shower room (none of the rooms at the Wellington Arms have baths). The attention to detail was exceptional.
You enter the room to the strains of Classic FM on the bedside Roberts radio – but don’t worry if you’re a telly addict like us, there is also a large flatscreen TV and a DVD collection.
The furnishings are tasteful, and there are personal touches all over the place, right down to the quirky spoons on the tea-tray, the homemade shortbread, and the lavender bags that have been made by one of the owner’s mums. Even the bathroom towels impressed us, they were soft and fluffy and smelled like they had been freshly laundered by someone’s mum, rather than in an industrial hotel laundry.
The Cart House was the perfect room for us, as it was nice to just feel a tiny bit separate from the rest of the pub.
We loved the food at the Wellington Arms. On entry, guests are greeted by an array of produce that is sourced and made on-site, from the freshly laid eggs to the freshly baked sourdough bread. We ate like kings for lunch and dinner, and then still managed to find room for breakfast the next day. The menu changes regularly and is sourced as locally as possible. They don’t just grow their own veggies, they rear their own chickens. Our favourite dishes were the Souffle and the Beef Wellington, but to be honest, it was all delicious.
You pre-order your breakfast the night before – which is a little tricky if you’re not sure what you fancy – and are given a timeslot around the 9.30am mark. It was lovely to walk in and head straight to our table, next to the log burner, with our chosen newspaper already there and our own toaster for the homemade sourdough.
The Wellington Arms is ‘just’ a pub with rooms, but in a good way. It’s small, but perfectly formed. There may not be a spa, but the rooms are designed for relaxation, and the local countryside is made for walking. The staff are happy to recommend walking routes around the local area.
What made it stand out to us?
The attention to detail and the exceptional level of service. The owners, Simon and Jason, clearly take enormous pride in what they do, and this shines through in the food and decor. This is reflected throughout the staff team at the pub. They were all friendly, knowledgeable, and great at their jobs.
Would we return with the kids?
Nope. We fell in love with the Wellington Arms and we can’t wait to go back. But it’s definitely somewhere for a grown-up meal and an overnight stay, away from the noise and mess of our little ones! If you want to head to Hampshire with the kids, then we’d recommend The Four Seasons for luxury, or Sandy Balls for some chilled out (and cheaper!) fun. But if you have the chance to escape for a grown-up break, we’d heartily recommend the Wellington Arms.