Sometimes, living in London, you just need to take time to step back and get out of the city for a night. As much as I love my town, sometimes life gets a bit hectic and an escape to the country is needed. With the last heady days of autumn gone and winter stretched ahead of us, there’s no better time to find yourself a countryside bolt-hole for a weekend away.
A traditional country inn with charm in spades
Pack a bag, hit the road and head south west to the green of Hampshire, where you’ll find the gem that is The Anchor Inn. A proper, traditional country inn (complete with Tudor beams a-plenty - mind your head), this is a cosy weekend getaway personified. Part of The Epicurean Collection, it’s just one of a selection of fine British pubs and inns handpicked by luxury lifestyle magazine, The Epicurean, as representing the best of British food, style and service. Suffice to say if they’re all as good as this one, I think I may be paying the rest of the collection a visit at some point!
With a fully stocked bar of great local ales and a menu resplendent with fresh British ingredients, The Anchor Inn is worth leaving London for. Situated on a country road in the village of Lower Froyle, it’s a 15-minute taxi from Farnham station, for those without wheels. The five bedrooms - all named after literary greats of the past - are filled with antique furnishings, walls covered in fascinating paintings, photographs and bookshelves begging to be delved through.
We arrived on a sunny Friday evening and instantly fell in love with the beautiful Rupert Brooke suite, with its French windows and private balcony overlooking a garden full of very happy looking diners.
The Anchor Inn has won a host of awards, including four stars for accommodation and one Rosette for the restaurant from the AA Guide. It’s easy to see why; the rooms were beautifully cosy and welcoming (the mattress giving me one of the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a long time), and little extras like the Bramley toiletries and coffee making machine make it feel more welcoming that your average room.
Activities to enjoy near the Anchor Inn - if you can pry yourself away…
The staff were all wonderfully friendly and accommodating, giving us tips on the best walks in the area and the food spectacular (more on that in a moment…). With regular offers such as ‘Spoil Yourself Sundays’, whereby spending £60 or more on your Sunday dinner equals a room for £40, it’s one to get on your weekend radar, especially as it’s less than an hour and a half from London. The Inn can even help to arrange fishing, shooting and hunting trips for discerning guests that want to really embrace the country way of life, or you can just embrace the fields surrounding the Inn and take off on a long country walk, safe in the knowledge you’ll be working up an appetite for what’s about to be an amazing meal.
The restaurant at The Anchor Inn
Dinner at The Anchor Inn was certainly something special and undoubtedly on a par with many a fine London restaurant I’ve dined in. From the number of guests enjoying a Friday night supper, it was clear to see it’s a popular spot.
The cuisine at The Anchor Inn
The octopus carpaccio with crispy pigs ears, pickled grapes and spiced tomato, an intriguingly delicious combination and a chicken and ham hock terrine was the perfect accompaniment to a freshly-baked bread basket. The lemon and thyme chicken breast and confit leg with chorizo, butterbean and peanut puree and red pepper was, quite simply, melt in the mouth fantastic, while the pork belly opposite me was apparently some of the best my guest had ever tasted. Pudding was something else; who could say no to a flapjack with honeycomb ice cream and salted caramel or a chocolate tart with brown sugar creme fraiche and raspberry sorbet?!
Unwind with a tipple or two
A sofa situated next to the bar was the perfect stop for a post prandial bottle of wine. The inn’s homely vibe just beckons you to settle in for the evening, nestled in a corner under a beam with a bottle of red, listening to the gentle hum of conversation - a far cry from the shouty bustle of a London pub on a Friday night!
Wake up to a hearty spread
Breakfast was a treat to wake up to; a table laid out with ‘help-yourself’ juices, cereal, fruit, yoghurt and pastries and a hearty cooked offering. What better way to start a Saturday that eating on a sun-soaked terrace with the weekend papers, a fresh pot of coffee and a breakfast fit for kings?
Alas, while I could have happily lounged in the garden all day, we had a train to catch. Deciding to forgo the taxi back to Farnham, we instead decided to walk off our indulgent feast by heading to Bentley, the next village, to catch our train back to London, which was around an hour’s walk but on a glorious sunny morning, an entirely pleasant one. This charming corner of England is certainly a beautiful one and The Anchor Inn is a gem of a getaway; once the seasons change and the fires are lit, you won’t be able to tear yourself away.
Doubles from £99 per night.
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