Staycations are here to stay. The Crown & Garter in idyllic Inkpen near Hungerford, West Berkshire is the perfect spot for a great British getaway, in any season. Crisp country air, long leafy walks and cycle routes with award-winning, wholesome food waiting for you by a fire. This is exactly what we all need after the events of 2020. Come away feeling totally refreshed and rejuvenated without getting on board a plane, or indeed applying any sun cream.
The Crown & Garter has ten stylish rooms, just adjacent to the pub property for a relaxed night sleep, each with plush super king beds. The rooms make for the perfect cosy base to head off on glorious walks nearby. Cobwebs, be gone. Inkpen Common is right next door and contains beautiful and ancient heathland, a myriad of flowers, birds and wildlife. We opted for the ten kilometre walk that begins at Inkpen Common but there are options to go on for even longer. The staff at the Crown & Garter are extremely helpful in recommending routes to help to get the most out of the surrounding countryside and to advise which ramble is best for the specific season. On our arrival back, we enjoyed a well-deserved local ale in the Crown & Garter’s large beer garden in the sun, taking in panoramic views of the Berkshire countryside.
The pub offers fresh, seasonal food and a large selection of drinks from local distilleries, breweries and producers. The wine served is exclusively sourced from small producers in the UK and Europe. Food aficionados will appreciate the Crown & Garter’s commitment to sourcing a large portion of its ingredients locally with the fish served in the restaurant coming from UK coastal waters and rivers. The pub’s menu is small, concise and expertly curated. Mouth-watering starters include the broad bean and pea bruschetta, soused mackerel and mini scotch eggs to have alongside a crisp and cool glass of white wine. The dinner menu includes the hearty British pub classics as well as some superb vegetarian options such as a vegan aubergine and chickpea stew with a homemade flatbread, dukkha and soya yoghurt and lighter bites such as the heritage tomato salad with buffalo mozzarella and a roast carrot and spelt salad. The award-winning pub is part of the Honesty Group, which includes nine coffee shops, a bakery and a cookery school across the Berkshire countryside. As a result of being part of Honesty Group, bread is extremely important to the Crown & Garter. Fresh loaves and rolls are supplied from the pub’s local Honesty Bakery and of course the butter is homemade (and delicious).
The private garden is a tranquil setting where guests can start their day with a newspaper, coffee and a freshly-baked croissant, or a full English of course, before embarking on the day’s activities. Although the Crown & Garter feels like it is tucked away in one of the most glorious and secluded parts of the country, guests are not far away from activities and well-known places to visit. The historic Bombay Sapphire Distillery is in the neighbouring county and nearby lies UNESCO World Heritage Site, Blenheim Palace, making the Crown & Garter well located for visitors wishing to experience some quintessentially British days out.
Bombay Sapphire Distillery
Just thirty minutes away from the Crown & Garter lies Laverstoke Mill and the home of Bombay Sapphire. The extremely knowledgeable staff take visitors on a journey right from the beginning of the brand’s origins to the present day. The history of Laverstoke Mill is recorded as far back as the 1086 Doomsday Book. The Mill has been under the ownership of William the Conqueror, Henry VIII and enjoyed four royal visits, most recently Queen Elizabeth in 1962.
Guests to the Bombay Sapphire Distillery learn about the ten botanicals which make the gin so delicious in the iconic glasshouses designed by Thomas Heatherwick. Guests are then able to configure their own gin flavour profile during a hands on activity that incorporates all the senses. Once the flavour palette is chosen, visitors can match their preferences with a complimentary speciality cocktail that is enjoyed at Mill Bar at the end of the tour.
Great Britain in all its glory. Grand, majestic and seeped full of history. Guests can enjoy the expansive grounds with awe-inspiring views of the property or wander inside and take in centuries of pomp and pageantry. The palace was home to the 12th Duke of Marlborough and his family and was also the birthplace of one of the most famous Britons, Sir Winston Churchill. Grab yourself an audio tour and go back through three hundred years of history or take a ride on the miniature train which runs through the grounds between the palace and the Pleasure Gardens. For the more glamourous ‘staycationer’, sip a glass of Searcys Selected Cuvée Champagne in The Orangery and enjoy Blenheim Palace’s famous Afternoon Tea with delicious cakes, scones, pink rhubarb choux buns and strawberry macarons. What could be a more British ritual.
Until the 3rd January 2021, guests to Blenheim Palace can enjoy a major solo collection by acclaimed British female artist, Cecily Brown. Brown’s works display various stylistic influences from Francisco de Goya and Francis Bacon and the exhibition is the first to be comprised solely of new work created in response to the Palace’s history as an English country estate and as the home to successive generations of the Spencer-Churchill family and their impressive collection of paintings, tapestries and decorative arts.
Holidays within the UK are certainly not going anywhere soon with travellers discovering that there is so much to explore, right on the doorstep. Having stood on the same spot since 1640, we predict we will be seeing more of the Crown & Garter as exploring more locally becomes the order of the day. The staycation at the Crown & Garter was everything a luxurious short break should be and a great place to escape from London or any big city. In the words of Sir Winston Churchill who resided just forty-five minutes away at Blenheim Place, ‘my tastes are simple: I am easily satisfied with the best’.
To book and for more information, see: www.crownandgarter.co.uk