Hannah Tan-Gillies and our intrepid doggy reporter #TeamCocopup Charlie have checked into The Pheasant Inn for two nights of elevated pub food, impeccable service and to explore all the rustic delights of nearby Hungerford and Marlborough.
On an exceedingly scenic corner of Berkshire, sits The Pheasant Inn Lambourn, a wonderfully charming pub/inn that will outdo every one of your staycation expectations.
A well-loved local landmark, the Pheasant Inn welcomed hotelier/restauranteur Jack Greenall as its new landlord in 2016 and has since undergone a top-to-bottom refurbishment. While I have not seen the Pheasant Inn pre-refurb, it is clear from staff and regulars alike that the renovation respected the inn’s rich heritage, which can be traced back to 1750.
Check-in is at the pub, which offers a familiar and relaxing atmosphere, amidst a rich canvas of warm colours, textures, and plenty of quirky art to look at. The pub comprises a main dining area, a more relaxed (and dogfriendly) pub dining area, and a cosy snug – which comes with its own eclectic collection of prints, and books. This isn’t your ordinary local, because the food at the Pheasant Inn is certainly the best-of-the-best in terms of modern British fare, with each dish offering a fresh new take on timeless pub classics.
Before we ‘dig in’ to the menu, we fist check into our gorgeous bedroom. The Pheasant Inn has 14, individually-designed en-suite bedrooms which are as cosy as they are stylish. All bedrooms were designed by London-based interior designer Flora Soames, each offering its own unique take on contemporary yet quintessential British charm. Our bedroom had outdoor access, which is ideal for those travelling with pooches.
Bathed in light and oozing with charm, our room featured an eclectic red and yellow floral headboard, which anchored the space and informed our room’s rich colour palette. It also featured a shabby chic wardrobe, a fluted blush armchair, delightful nature-inspired prints, Egyptian cotton sheets, and a vintage Robert DAB radio. The bathroom also offered indulgent Bamford toiletries – which to my delight, the inn also sells individually.
Breakfast is served in the main dining room and includes all the British classics, done exceedingly well and produced with only the best locally-sourced ingredients. In typical millennial fashion, I had the smashed avocado on toasted sourdough, with chili, lime and coriander, while my husband had the hearty English breakfast. Both dishes were served to absolute perfection, and complemented with fresh juices, breads, jams, and coffees.
There is plenty to explore in this special little corner of the Berkshires. The Pheasant Inn borders the nearby village of Shefford Woodlands which home to the famed Valley of the Racehorse. Meanwhile, the market town of Marlborough is just a 12 mile driver away across the Wiltshire County border. Here you can gawk at half-timbered cottages, ornate red brick mansions, and shop at the bustling local market from Wednesdays to Saturdays.
There is plenty to see in nearby Hungerford too. This historic town is antique-lovers paradise and it is easy to lose hours in one of the many antique arcades looking for lost treasures. A walk along the picturesque Kennet and Avon canals is also recommended for well-behaved pooches, before taking a break in one of the many quaint cafés on the high street. Our favourite was the hearty, healthy and dog friendly Eliane Café.
Further out in Reading, there is Basildon Park, whose main house exterior you may remember from films like ‘Pride & Prejudice’ and more recently ‘The Gentleman’ or as the handsome London estate of ‘Downton Abbey’s’ The Crawleys. The gardens are filled with beautiful blooms and are dog friendly too – perfect for a day out exploring.
It’s almost impossible to choose just one standout feature for The Pheasant Inn, which so far has certainly impressed in every way, but if we had to choose just one, it would be the incredible food at the pub. The Pheasant Inn’s food philosophy is to ‘simply and deliciously’ bring together only the best ingredients, and this certainly reflects in the quality of the food on offer.
The menu is rooted in classic British cooking and regularly changes to showcase the best of the locally-sourced fish, meats, and artisanal products from the UK. The sausages and wild meat are from the neighbouring Walter Rose & Sons, while the charcuterie comes from Gloucestershire’s Kelmscott Country Pork. The artisanal cheese is from Harvey & Brockless, while the fish is from Cornwall’s Flying Fish and Seafoods. An impressive roster, made up of the best of the best British suppliers with each one showcasing the wealth of produce that we have on offer in the UK.
For dairy/egg intolerance sufferers like myself, there is also a vegan/gluten free menu available – a sign of the times and of The Pheasant Inn’s commitment to catering for all.
We started with the Calamari and Tempura prawns, both perfectly cooked and accompanied by garlic aioli and lemon. For the mains, we recommend the Wiltshire Lamb Rump, which replaces the usual gravy or red wine jus with a surprising yet delightful black olive tapenade.
On our first evening, I sampled the vegan menu and had the roast Jerusalem artichokes, accompanied by sautéed wild mushrooms, charred broccoli, and toasted almonds. This totally vegan dish was bursting with flavours without being overpowering. Both meals at The Pheasant Inn proved that no matter what dietary challenges you may give the kitchen staff, they will not fail to blow you away.
No meal would be complete without the perfect glass of wine and The Pheasant Inn has 70 wines to choose from, with 28 available by the glass. There is also a wide selection of hand-pulled local cask ales and spirits. The Pheasant Inn also made sure that Charlie enjoyed his dining experience too, providing him with his own dog bed and a generous smattering of treats.
After months of lockdown, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from The Pheasant Inn, but after our truly wonderful stay, this place and the wonderful people that run it has certainly carved out a special place in my memory. From the warm and welcoming staff, the truly excellent breakfast, dinner, and everything else in between, The Pheasant Inn is a true gem in the Berkshires and has gone above and beyond every single one of my expectations.