Looking for gastro pubs with rooms? Want to know where to stay in the Wessex Downs? Read our review of The Pheasant Inn, or check out where to eat and drink in Oxford here.
The Pheasant Inn in a nutshell
This horse-racing haunt turned local gastro pub draws diners from across the country thanks to its excellent food, local beers, cosy vibe and stylish rooms.
Doubles from £95, check availability at booking.com
What’s the vibe?
Once host to lock-ins and parties amongst the racing community, this renovated pub in the heart of Berkshire’s ‘Valley of the Racehorse’ still has plenty of character. Ancient stud books line shelves next to a roaring log fire, black and white photographs of famous trainers hang above the glass-panelled bar, and stable doors create cosy sections where young jockeys still gather for drinks.
Which room should I book at The Pheasant Inn?
Each of the eleven bedrooms is individually decorated, with fabric headboards, vintage pieces of furniture and Audubon’s Birds of America watercolours (look out for the flamingo on the stairs). Room 4 is fresh and botanical, with illustrations of plants, while rooms 3 and 7 boast stand-alone bathtubs in marble bathrooms. All are kitted out with seriously comfy beds, along with Bamford toiletries, Roberts radios and fluffy bathrobes.
What’s the food and drink like?
Pub grub classics (Pheasant Ale-battered fish and chips, beef burgers, chicken kiev..) sit on the menu alongside dishes which head chef Andy Watts has gathered from stints in kitchens across the country. Try cashew nut hummus with curry and apple dressing (from his time at Royal Ascot), or excellent seafood dishes (such as pan-fried scallops with clementine, cod cheeks in soy sauce and pan-roast stonebass with saffron potatoes) inspired by his time at Tomos Parry’s Cornerstone.
The pub’s popular Sunday lunch includes whole-roast Cotswolds chicken for two, with sausage and apricot stuffing, rich venison shepherd’s pie topped with piped mash, and crisp Kelmscott pork belly with Yorkshire pudding, garlic and herb roasties and red wine sauce.
For pudding, it’s worth the extra wait for a freshly baked caramelised apple and pear tarte tatin for two, served on a wooden board with caramel sauce and pots of vanilla ice cream. The cheeseboard includes local sweet and nutty Tunworth, creamy, crumbly Wigmore and port-soaked Cashel Blue from Ireland.
There are plenty of local beers on tap – light, crisp Eagle IPA, malty Good Old Boy bitter and Ramsbury Gold, plus the pub’s own citrusy Pheasant Ale. Or try a negroni made with Bombay Sapphire gin from the distillery in nearby Hampshire.
A continental buffet bar is loaded with pains au chocolat, squeezed juices, fresh fruit, Normandy yogurt, granola and more.
The hearty English breakfast includes smoked streaky bacon and Kelmscott sausages, while the veggie version offers potato rostis with avocado, flat mushrooms, slow-roast tomatoes and your choice of eggs.
What else can foodies do?
Drive over the Hampshire border past picture-perfect thatched cottages to the Bombay Sapphire Distillery at Laverstock Mill. Explore the stunning glass houses here (designed by Thomas Heatherwick) to learn about exotic botanicals before touching, smelling and tasting spices and aromas and then joining a tour of the still room to see distilling in action.
Is it family friendly?
No cots are available but you’re welcome to bring your own. Two fold-down beds are available for children under 12 for a £20 charge.
If you want to have a few drinks with your Sunday roast, you can prolong the weekend with the Settle in Sundays deal. Spend £100 or more in the restaurant on a Sunday evening and they’ll throw in a bedroom on the house.