11 Country Pubs To Visit Over The Festive Period
11 Country Pubs To Visit Over The Festive Period

11 Country Pubs To Visit Over The Festive Period


Sunday roasts, roaring fires, local ales… the festive season is the perfect time to make the most of the UK’s best country pubs. From historic boozers to Michelin-starred options, here are the ones worth a visit...
The Hare & Hound, Berkshire
The Hare & Hound, Berkshire

The Bull Charlbury


The team behind The Pelican in Notting Hill opened a pub in the Cotswolds earlier this year, and it’s already become a buzzy spot with locals and those in the know. The Bull at Charlbury, a small town in west Oxfordshire, has the same charm of The Pelican, with country interiors and crowd-pleasing dishes. Set in a former inn dating back to the 16th century, the pub has a simple dining room and garden with further seating. The team only uses trusted local suppliers, so the menu is hyper seasonal. Dishes are cooked on the BBQ, and on Sundays, the team cooks whole animals on an open fire – think slow-cooked lamb with all the trimmings. Bedrooms upstairs have just opened, too.

Sheep Street, Charlbury, Chipping Norton, OX7 3RR

Visit TheBullCharlbury.com

The Three Horseshoes


Back in the spring, chef Margot Henderson OBE opened a pub with rooms in the village of Batcombe in Somerset. After an impressive restoration of its original 17th-century building, Margot got to work creating a menu that celebrated the best seasonal produce from the county – and it’s easy to see why it’s a favourite among locals. The bar offers a range of local ciders, craft beers and wines, while dishes include poached chicken with leeks and green sauce, Tamworth chop with turnip and lentils, bone marrow on toast, and treacle tart with clotted cream. There’s also a great private dining room out back.

Batcombe, Shepton Mallet, Somerset, BA4 6HE

Visit TheThreeHorseshoesBatcombe.co.uk

Bottle & Glass Inn


Set within the Phillimore Estate in Binfield Heath, near Henley-on-Thames, Bottle & Glass Inn couldn’t be more quintessentially British – think roaring log fires and leather seating. Here, you can enjoy bistro dishes, order wood-fired pizzas from the garden or tuck into burgers from the van in the garden. There’s also the B&G Barn behind the pub, which serves freshly made pastries and cakes in the morning, as well as rooms and shepherd’s huts on site if you fancy an overnight stay.

Bones Lane, Binfield Heath, Henley-on-Thames, RG9 4JT

Visit BottleAndGlassInn.com

The Bull Charlbury, Cotswolds
The Bull Charlbury, Cotswolds

The Hind’s Head


It should come as no surprise that Heston Blumenthal’s pub in Bray made this list. The building itself makes it one of the oldest pubs in the country, with lots of the original features still intact. The restaurant serves elevated British classics, but the Christmas menu ups the ante during the festive season – expect dishes like turkey and ham hock croquettes; duck and guinea fowl en croute with madeira jelly; and a classic Christmas dinner with roast potatoes, chestnut and prune stuffing, pigs in blanket, spiced red cabbage and lashings of gravy. Save room for the moreish choux pastries with mince pie filling.

High Street, Bray, Maidenhead, SL6 2AB

Visit HindsHeadBray.com

The Hare & Hound


Created by the group behind Wild Thyme & Honey in the Cotswolds, The Hare & Hound is in the small town of Newbury in Berkshire. The pub is set in a 17th-century Georgian building which has been carefully restored with traditional country interiors and an atmospheric barn dining room. Diners can expect farm-to-table menus that change with the seasons and champion local suppliers and producers. Until the New Year, the festive menu includes dishes like duck liver parfait with confit onion and sherry marmalade, eight-hour slow braised shoulder of beef, and a plum and sherry trifle. There’s a decent selection of craft beers, too.

Bath Road, Speen, Newbury, RG14 1QY

Visit HareAndHoundsNewbury.co.uk

The Hand & Flowers


Tom Kerridge’s flagship restaurant in Marlow is the only pub in the UK to hold two Michelin stars. Order cocktails at the bar before moving to the dining room with its period beams and pillars. Pub classics are elevated to new heights with bold flavours and beautiful presentation, and all the food is made with produce from independent butchers, fishmongers and vegetable suppliers. Current menu highlights include duck liver parfait with orange chutney and toasted brioche; chicken, mushroom and pistachio ‘pie’ with girolles, broad beans and sauce vin jaune; fish du jour cooked in lobster oil with dill and artichoke tart; and chocolate and ale cake.

126 West Street, Marlow, SL7 2BP

Visit TheHandAndFlowers.co.uk 

The Wild Rabbit, Cotswolds
The Wild Rabbit, Cotswolds

The Globe Inn Marsh


Easily reached from London via a 50-minute train journey, Rye makes a great day out with its cobbled streets and historic pubs. Just outside the town, The Globe Inn Marsh is a great option after a winter walk along the beaches, with its log fireplace and cosy hearth for dogs. The pub mainly stocks beer and cider from local breweries, as well as wines from Sussex’s best vineyards, like Tillingham and Oxney. Once you’ve warmed up by the fire, order breakfast from the weekend menu or tuck into hearty seafood dishes at lunch, all made with produce from the surrounding waters. Over the festive season expect carols, workshops for kids and seasonal specials. 

10 Military Rd, Rye, TN31 7NX

Visit Ramblinns.com

The Wild Rabbit


A favourite among the SLMan team, The Wild Rabbit in Kingham is a short walk away from the Daylesford Farm Shop. The Bamford family refurbished an 18th-century inn and turned it into an inviting boozer with a spacious beer garden and light-filled dining room. Over the festive period, the pub goes all out with its decorations, while the kitchen’s focus is on hearty dishes made with organic ingredients from its estate. Book in to try one of its tasting menus alongside Daylesford’s extensive selection of wines, beers and spirits – order a glass of port with a cheeseboard to finish.

Church St, Kingham, Chipping Norton, OX7 6YA

Visit TheWildRabbit.co.uk

The Bear Inn


This 16th-century coaching inn near Market Drayton recently reopened after a £2m makeover. The pub has a buzzy atmosphere at weekends and evenings when locals flock to the dining room for traditional pub grub and local ales. Interconnected rooms have low ceilings and flickering fires which add to the cosy feel. The pub uses produce from its sister property Hodnet Hall – the five-course festive menu includes dishes like cured salmon with avocado; venison with blackberry, celeriac and cavolo nero; and chocolate and pistachio cake.

Drayton Rd, Hodnet, Market Drayton, TF9 3NH

Visit TheBearInnHodnet.com

The Wild Rabbit, Cotswolds
The Wild Rabbit, Cotswolds
The Bell & Crown, Wiltshire
The Bell & Crown, Wiltshire

The Bell & Crown


The Bell & Crown reopened last year following an extensive renovation. Set in a former coaching inn, the pub straddles the Wiltshire and Dorset borders in the village of Zeals. It’s steeped in history and character, with six bedrooms upstairs. There’s always a decent list of ales and IPAs from local breweries, as well as a great wine list supplied by Gardner & Beedle in Tisbury. Food-wise, dishes are simple hearty, with current highlights including cider rarebit with red onion chutney; and rose veal liver with mash, cabbage and gravy; as well as a cracking Sunday roast with all the trimmings.

New Road, Zeals, Warminster, BA12 6NJ

Visit BellAndCrown.com

The Beacon

Tunbridge Wells 

The Beacon has taken on many forms during its time, from a public bath house to a hostel, until it became the pub locals know today. The current owners refurbished the historic building and added a beer garden and terrace which has great views overlooking the nearby hills. Chef Scott Goss heads up the kitchen with reasonably priced set menus during lunch and dinner. Diners can choose from a selection of sharing dishes and meat-focused mains before fishing with boozy puddings like warm praline sponge with brandy clotted cream.

Tea Garden Lane, Tunbridge Wells, TN3 9JH

Visit The-Beacon.co.uk

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