The inspector visits a former coaching inn near the “real” Downton Abbey, where the dining room “is buzzing with joy” (but his room in the building’s attic feels “cramped”).
- The Inspector lives at the Hare & Hounds in Newbury, near Highclere Castle
- The 30 rooms of the inn are spread over the main building and three outbuildings
- ‘Newbury isn’t overrun with pubs like this,’ writes the Inspector
- Remember, the inspector pays his way… and tells it like it is
The Watermill Theater on the outskirts of Newbury in West Berkshire is one of those little-known gems of the Home Counties – although well loved by locals and not little known.
Within walking distance is the newly opened Hare & Hounds with 30 rooms spread over the main building and three outbuildings including the stables.
What you get at this former coaching inn after a major renovation is pretty standard: nothing too flashy, sense of humor (dog-headed military), antler chandeliers and lights, quotes about the joys of alcohol painted on the walls. And reasonable prices.
The inspector checks into the Hare & Hounds, a former coaching inn in Newbury
Mind you, our room at the top of the main house is in the eaves and feels cramped, with a tiny window overlooking the parking lot. Actually it should be a single room. There’s no room for proper bedside tables; no room for a mirror above the sink; no room for a chair of any kind.
Highclere Castle (as at Downton Abbey) is close by and Grosvenor Pubs – which has three other establishments of the same genre – is obviously hoping this will be a selling point. Still, it seems like overdoing it by having a room called Highclere and another called Downton.
The large wrap-around bar should do good business on a Friday night, but it’s quiet. That could be because, despite its newness, it’s not particularly inviting.
Unlike the main dining area in a converted barn, which is buzzing with bonhomie.
The dining room at Hare & Hounds, where diners enjoy a wide variety of grills and burgers. “We can’t resist the roast pork,” says the inspector
The number one rule in a place like this should be: get the drinks on the table as quickly as possible. What is happening here.
The menu is pretty standard too, with a wide variety of grills and burgers. We can’t resist the roast pork while waiting for our Caesar salad appetizers, followed by chicken and ham pie for me, fish and chips for my companion.
We strike up a conversation with our waiter. He looks like he’s in his 20s but says he’s only 16. We wonder if that hospitality will be enough to persuade him to join the business full-time once he graduates from school. We hope so. Everyone who works here is certainly enthusiastic.
Newbury isn’t overrun with pubs like this one. But whether it’s special enough to attract outsiders is another question.
The Hare & Hounds, Bath Road, Speen, Newbury, RG14 1QY. Doubles from £115. For more information call 01635 521 152 or visit us hareandhoundsnewbury.co.uk.