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Overview

Grosvenor Pubs & Inns year-long revamp of this once faded 17th-century roadside inn has been worth the wait - doors were pushed open in January 2022 to reveal a stylish, modern-day coaching inn with 30 smart bedrooms.

The transformation is impressive, a credit to thought and attention to detail given to the overall design and refurbishment of the inn. The time-honoured charm and character of the original coaching inn blend effortlessly with the contemporary look and feel of the new oak-beamed dining room and the quirky modern decor in the very comfortable rooms.

The hub of the inn is a warren of cosy rooms wrapped around the central bar, with polished parquet floors, leather banquettes, old prints on panelled walls, three warming woodburning fires, and local ale of tap. In keeping with its name and the proximity of Newbury Racecourse, an equestrian theme runs throughout the place, from bespoke wall coverings, rich motif fabrics and unusual fittings - note the hare lamp and hunting wallpaper in the private dining room - to the amusing room names, including the Bridle Suite.

Just minutes from the A34/M4, the inn is ideally placed for visiting Oxford, Winchester and nearby Highclere Castle, and great walking on the Berkshire Downs and Hampshire Hills, or along the Kennet & Avon Canal. It's also a very comfortable stopover en route west from London.

Rooms from:

27 doubles & 3 suites: £105-£250

Good to know

Major credit cards accepted

Disabled access (+ 1 enabled rooms in The Paddocks)

Heated terrace; alfresco dining

Private dining

Parking available

Dog stay: £20

Highclere Castle

Remodelled and virtually rebuilt by Sir Charles Barry in the mid-19th century, Highclere Castle is now one of Britain's best-known houses, thanks to the international success of the award-winning ITV television series Downton Abbey. A tour of the house and park is a must.

Newbury Races

Set in 360 acres of picturesque countryside, with a grandstand designed by Norman Foster, Newbury offers some of the best flat and jump racing in the country.

Rooms

The 30 stylishly revamped rooms are spread across three beatifully refurbished buildings behind the inn - The Stables, The Paddocks and Hunter's Lodge - with rooms also located above the Coach House, the original 17th-century coaching inn.

A horse-racing/hunting theme flows through the charming, well designed rooms, from quirky names like The Saddle, The Hoof and the brilliantly named 'Bridle' Suite, to bold and bespoke wall-coverings, well-chosen prints and paintings, and some very individual fittings, for example antler lamps. Rooms range from cosy King Rooms to more spacious Deluxe Rooms and three special Suites - The Highclere and The Jack of Newbury in the Coach House, and the Bridle Suite tucked away in Hunter's Lodge; all feature deep copper tubs by the bed, with the Bridle Suite also having a relaxing lounge area and a drinks cupboard.

Thought too has been given to the welcome detail touches and comforts that make a stay memorable. Think, the best Sleep Easy mattresses on big beds, underfloor heating, cool lighting, rich fabrics, Smart TVs, Roberts radios, Nespresso machines, fresh milk, a decanter of sloe gin, up-to-date magazines, and posh Bramley products in cosy tiled bathrooms. Well-behaved pooches are welcome overnight in the ground-floor rooms and they will be pampered with a dog bed, bowl and 'Bramley Dog Box'.

Restaurant & bar

The seasonally changing menu celebrates local and regional produce, from artisan cheeses to farm-reared meats, and the imaginative choice successfully combines pub classics (with a twist) with delicious fish and meat choices from the grill, and cracking Sunday roasts.

The menu offers plenty of interest - share some small plates (smoked ham and cheddar croquette with gherkin ketchup), or kick off with a Cumberland scotch egg with black pudding brown sauce, or creamed cauliflower and black truffle soup. Perhaps follow with pork belly, winter greens, smoked pumpklin puree, Madeira and truffle gravy; British Wagyu beef burger with all the trimmings, or whole sea bass from the grill served with fennel and apple slaw. Leave room for Black Forest gateaux with boozy cherries and pistachio ice cream, or a plate a local cheeses with spiced pear chutney. Excellent lunchtime sandwiches - order the salt beef with horseradish cream.

Peruse the mind-boggling drinks menu for classic cocktails, craft beers and ciders, local ales (West Berkshire Brewery Good Old Boy), interesting wines and fizz (16 by the glass), and a raft of boutique spirits. Splash out on a glass of fine wine from the unique Enomatic dispensing machine in the bar.

Private dining

There are a range of flexible dining and event spaces for a private party or a family celebration. The quirky, horse-racing themed private dining room adjacent to the bar is a cosy space (seats 8) for a intimate dinner.

Things to do

Though small, Berkshire benefits from some very varied landscape - much of it ideal for walking. The western half offers the best scenery - a mix of classic English countryside and vast swathes of chalk downland. The Ridgeway long-distance trail is probably the most obvious choice for an invigorating hike over the downs and is easy to reach from Speen. Elsewhere, there are many miles of footpaths and bridleways and sections of the Thames and Kennet & Avon towpaths to enjoy.

Established in 1991, on the site of one of Europe's most famous orchid nurseries, the Living Rainforest at Hampstead Norreys is where you can learn all about the living rainforest environment, as well as the world's endangered plants and wildlife.

The present Watermill Theatre in Bagnor is mid-19th century though there has been a mill here since the time of the Doomsday Book. The Watermill is just the place to combine peace and tranquility and a picturesque riverside setting with theatre of the highest calibre.

Getting here

Directions

Nearest train station: Newbury

Taxi from station: 5min

Drive: Winchester 32min; Oxford 34min; Bristol 1hr 4min: London 1hr 30min

Address

Bath Road, Speen, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 1QY

Prices & availability