Sabi Phagura experiences the hospitality of the Crown & Garter pub, restaurant and hotel in Berkshire.
I’ve lived in the Royal County of Berkshire for 18 years, but I had never heard of the Crown & Garter in the picturesque village of Inkpen. Having stood its ground since 1640, it’s an integral part of this area and the other surrounding villages.
Thanks to a swish refurbishment, the Crown & Garter has been transformed from being your common or garden pub into a picturesque inn, restaurant, bakery and boutique hotel.
This charming village and parish in Hungerford district may not have much in terms of landmark buildings, but it has the most beautiful walks, cycle routes and views of cultivated fields with scattered woodland. It’s hardly surprising then that the inn is a popular choice for dog walkers, cyclists, ramblers or just those seeking an idyllic setting in which to enjoy a drink and a hearty meal.
Those wishing to extend their stay in the countryside can pick one of the ten beautifully designed bedrooms, combining modern simplicity and comfort to help take the weight off their feet.
Sadly, due to new COVID-19 measures, there’s no enthusiastic staff to greet you for the check-in process. Instead, the hotel has implemented contactless check-in, with guests emailed their room number and keys left inside.
Safety measures have been extended to a new bookings-only policy for the restaurant, a one-way layout to ensure social distancing is adhered to, and the entire pub is closed and deep cleaned between each service. Tables are limited to four inside, and six outside, and all staff wear face shields and gloves.
But you can’t let the Coronavirus affect every aspect of your life, and you will find a little sanctuary in the bedrooms. Set apart from the pub, and framed by the most idyllic private courtyard (where I sat and read the newspaper while sipping a morning coffee), each room is simple yet thoughtfully designed. The contemporary and striking looking boutique rooms all boast a super-king bed, seating area, ample wardrobe space and a double shower to refresh after a day in the outdoors.
You can expect to be well-fed at this cute pub with its red-brick exposed walls, smart rustic dining room with a beautiful fire and old books lining the shelves. The chef shows a flair for reinventing pub classics, such as fish and chips and burgers, alongside larger mains like pan-fried fillet of hake and roast rump of lamb, marinated Romero peppers, hung yoghurt, mint and olive oil.
Local and seasonal are the buzzwords for the food served here. Their fish comes from UK coastal waters and rivers and meets the Marine Society guidelines before it arrives in the kitchen. Bread is made on-site in a wood-fired oven, and tomato ketchup, kimchi, sauerkraut, chutney, pickle, jam and yoghurt are also freshly made. I can vouch for the food for being some of the freshest out there. The bread was simply divine.
Those who enjoy a drink or two will be delighted to hear there’s a large selection of drinks from local distilleries and breweries. In a year where so much has changed, and we’re championing staycations, you won’t go far wrong with a visit to the Crown & Garter.
Crown & Garter – Where and How?
Prices for a one-night stay at the Crown & Garter start from £105 per room per night including breakfast for single occupancy. Prices for two people sharing are from £130 per room per night, including breakfast.
For more information, visit www.crownandgarter.co.uk or call 01488 668325.
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