Go alfresco: Our fave pubs, perfect for summer!
Is there anything more British than a pub garden? We've scoured our counties for the best in show to hang out at this summer
Now we’re officially into summer and we’ve got the weather on board, it’s time to take the drinks outdoors. Here is our pick of the best pubs with groovy gardens and other cool outside spaces. Got your own favourite? Do share and I’ll jump in the convertible (I wish…) and go check it out. Tally ho!
The Royal Oak, Tetbury
Ah, we love this charming pub in the heart of Tetbury. A quaint 18th century gaff, lovingly restored back to the community in 2013, it has a cool saloon bar with upcycled furnishings, cosy booths, an Art Deco piano and vintage jukebox. The fab courtyard and gardens make it family- and dog-friendly, its six en-suite rooms are lovely (I’d plump for Oak Lodge. It’s pretty impressive), and the food is great. theroyaloaktetbury.co.uk
The Bell at Sapperton, nr Cirencester
Now this is a pub with a difference. Multi award winning (and winner of Best Destination Pub in Gloucestershire in this year’s famous Muddy Awards!), surrounded by picture perfect countryside and set in a gorgeous Cotswold village, The Bell has roaring log fires and cosy corners in the winter and a fab courtyard as well as a garden for summer, with deck chairs, no less. But it’s the food where the pub really comes into its own, with hearty, traditional food (think Chicken, Ham and Leek Pie and Duck Leg with White Bean Cassoulet), whisked up into magic by their head chef -indeed, it is one of The Times’ Top 100 Places To Eat. There is a wonderful sense of quirky here too, with vegetables from their garden, ‘Horse Parking’ provided and a Wine Wall, a self-serve wine shop to take away or drink in with your meal. www.bellsapperton.co.uk
The Green Dragon Inn, Cockleford
In the heart of the Cotswolds you’ll find this gorgeous country pub in the most idyllic setting. Winter brings roaring log fires, beamed ceilings and stone flagged floors but it is the summer that really rocks here, with a pub garden just bursting with prettiness. Dinner is Cotswold Venison Pie, Wild Boar and Chorizo Sausages, or a fabulous Fish Pie (amongst others), and ales and ciders are local. Their nine bedrooms are charming – a haven away from the hustle and bustle of our crazy lives. www.green-dragon-inn.co.uk
The Beckford Arms, Fonthill Bishop
Set in the most gorgeous location in stunning parkland on the Fonthill Estate is The Beckford Arms, a traditional yet stylish country pub, and one that is right up our street. Think lovely summery garden, cosy bedrooms, #inlovewithlocal ales and gins, comfy sofas and a fab gastro restaurant. Take a stomp around the Fonthill Estate, take a lesson in fly fishing, cycle or horse ride on the many cycling trails and bridle paths, try your hand at deer stalking or shooting, check out Wardour Castle or Longleat Safari Park or – and this is me, obvs – hang back at the pub and pamper yourself with a Theravada Thai Massage. Yes please! ***Hot off the press!*** The Beckford Arms has just won Best Destination Pub in Wilts in the Muddy Awards 2019! www.beckfordarms.com
Three Tuns, Great Bedwyn
The Three Tuns is one of those rare beauties – it has a lovely, dog-friendly beer garden with a boules pitch for summer-tastic drinking but come winter, roaring fires will toast your toes while you glug your way through the jug of freshly-made Bloody Mary propped on the bar, small batch spirits from around the Southwest and, last but not not least, their homemade Mulled Cider. This freehold village pub has won accolades for Best Sunday Roast EVER and Favourite Local Pub, so it’s no surprise that great food is a biggie here, from small bites of cauliflower cheese croquettes to rare Bavette steak. The food is prepared by Chef Proprietor James Wilsey, who strives to serve honest, beautifully cooked, full flavour dishes. Ales come from around the Southwest, alongside a carefully selected wine list and a growing selection of small batch gins and other spirits. The bar is pretty lively too! tunsfreehouse.com
The Weighbridge Inn, Minchinhampton
When you come to this 17th century this inn, with rustic interiors and a ‘come on in’ ambience (everyone’s welcome from the Muddy-boot brigade to motley children and dogs), make sure you come hungry because The Weighbridge is the inventor of the 2in1 Pie. What’s that you ask? That is the pub’s inspired culinary invention which puts your braised beef and ale, say, side by side with your cauliflower and cheese, say, topping the pair of them with the shortest, crumbliest homemade pastry ever. There are veggie, vegan and gluten-free options, full-sized and minis, and they are a-mazing. You can ask for the recipe but you won’t be given it as it’s been a closely guarded secret, passed down from landlord to landlord for 40 years. There’s a beamed hayloft upstairs that seats 40 which Muddy fancies as the perfect spot for a get-together (they cater kids’ parties too) or there’s a gorgeous private garden which come summer is shouting barbecue to us. www.weighbridgeinn.co.uk
Flying Monk, Chippenham
Fancy a gem of a pub with great food and truly excellent beer (well, it should be, they brew it themselves!)? Then look no further – The Flying Monk is the place for you. In fact, with The Flying Monk Brewery winning awards left, right and centre, the pub is the perfect way to showcase their beer to the local community. Food is homely but spot on, and they rightly pride themselves on using quality local produce to match their quality local beer. It’s a town pub but still worth a snoop on a summer’s eve. flyingmonktavern.com
A big Muddy tick goes to The Bull at Hinton, a proper ‘pub’ pub – family friendly, dog friendly, a fab play area for kids, and really, really great grub. The building is handsome and traditional – ancient stone that dates back to the 17th century, formerly an inn, a farm and a dairy (and apparently it has its fair share of ghosts!). But it is the food that stands out here – think traditional pub food, the best it can be, and great value for money. Produce is local as much as possible, they use their own home grown seasonal fruit, herbs and vegetables from their allotment, and it’s all cooked with an obvious passion. www.thebullathinton.co.uk
The Lamb, Hindon
Rock up at the uber-gorgeous village of Hindon in the West Wiltshire Downs (an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty no less and a mere stone’s throw from mighty megolith Stonehenge) and you’ll find everything you need in a country pub with rooms. Food is innovative yet delicious, and rooms about as cool as pub rooms get. There are 18 to choose from, all boutique-style bedrooms, all with a funky yet home-from-home vibe, plus some seriously indulgent outside Garden rooms with their own private terrace. They also offer The Meddling Pike or The Wylye Duck, a pair of private rooms for hire. Head off to local attractions Old Wardour Castle, Salisbury Cathedral, Longleat Safari Park, Stourhead, the obligatory Stonehenge and of course a bucketload of glorious walks. www.lambhindon.co.uk
The Bell, Ramsbury
This gorgeous country pub in the oh-so-delightful village of Ramsbury sits in a picture-perfect spot over the River Kennet. A 300-year old former coaching inn, it has been voted AA Best Pub for the whole of blooming England. But really and truly, it’s the food and the lovely walled garden you come here for. Part of the Ramsbury Estate, they brew their own beer, press their own oils and grow their own veg. Sausages and bacon come from The Bell’s smokehouse, aged beef from the Estate’s heard of cattle, and the lamb is reared right here on the banks of the river. Pretty perfect for summer. thebellramsbury.com
The Old Ale and Coffee House, Salisbury
The Bath Arms, Horningsham
Just had the Mudlets dragging you around Longleat? Suffered enough of monkeys pooing on the car? Then you need to hot-foot it to The Bath Arms, a lovely summery hideaway tucked in the shadow of the safari park, the perfect place to relax and unwind in the sun. It’s a foodie pub but is also a lovely boutique retreat, and the 17 characterful rooms with furniture imported from India are a quirky twist on your typical country pub. The food is locally sourced and seasonal wherever possible – you can even hire their Shepherd Room for private dining for up to 50 guests. But, as it’s summer, we’ll hang out in their gorgeous garden, thank you. batharms.co.uk
The Five Alls, Filkins
A lovely place for a summer lunch, as the light floods into the gorgeous bar… The Five Alls is the perfect village pub, promoting local ales (including their own Five Alls house ale), a huge flag-stoned bar, pretty pub garden, fab kids’ menu and food to die for – we’ve got our eyes on the Twice Baked Double Gloucester Soufflé and Salt ‘n’ Pepper Squid. Upstairs you’ll find four super cool rooms, with five more cottage-style bedrooms in the garden – think duck feather duvets, walk-in showers and quirky local artwork. Perfection. Unsurprisingly this is a pretty busy pub at the weekend, so book ahead. thefiveallsfilkins.co.uk
The Prince Albert, Stroud
The Bull, Fairford
A Grade II-listed former coaching inn, The Bull is a glorious sight slap bang on the Market Square in picture-perfect Fairford. Steeped in history, the pub was once a monk’s chanting house, then a posting house complete with stables and then the town’s post office. There is even a secret tunnel running from the pub to the local medieval church. Their 21 designer bedrooms feel luxurious, food is everything from hearty pub classics to fine dining feasts and the traditional vaulted barn, The Bull Room, is ideal for weddings and parties. Great for summer dining, it has a small garden but the jewel in the crown is their private fishing rights to a 1.25 mile stretch of the River Coln, running right through the town. Not an angler? The pub is well situated for local walks, cycling, horse riding, sailing and tennis, and is a great base for Cotswold Water Park, Cotswold Wildlife Park, Cheltenham Races and Sudeley Castle. thebullhotelfairford.co.uk
The Plough Inn, Cold Aston
Nestled in the small Cotswold village of Cold Aston, The Plough Inn is a true country pub, with a true country pub garden. The three rooms are cute and quirky, produce is local and seasonal, with particular attention paid to animal welfare, while the bar is a gin lover’s heaven. But it is the location that really impresses – Bourton on the Water, Stow on the Wold, Upper and Lower Slaughter – basically it’s bang in the middle of Cotswolds’ day-trip nirvana. We love the story behind this pub – owners Tom and Josie have been friends since the age of 3 and, after high octane lives in London and New York, the pair returned to work their hospitality and design magic on this gem of a pub – a truly local, warm and welcoming summery gaff. coldastonplough.com
Sheep on Sheep Street, Stow on the Wold
After reopening with a new Soho look, boutique en-suite rooms and regular band nights, this location has quickly become the ultra-cool, go-to spot in the Cotswolds. Every detail has been finished to the highest quality, from their speciality gin menu, with 21 perfected classics, to freshly baked pizzas fired up in a wood-burning oven. Everything about this place oozes style and sophistication. Sunday lunch ain’t too shabby, either.
The Frogmill, nr Cheltenham
In the tiny village of Shipton Oliffe just a few miles from Cheltenham, sits The Frogmill, a true culinary gem. This 16th century grade II listed property has been designed to celebrate its original features, with vintage furniture and William Morris wallpaper. Attention to detail has transformed it from a quiet country inn to an elegant and romantic retreat, with a giant outdoor terrace that attracts the masses on summer weekends. Make sure you’ve brought your appetite with you, as portions do not disappoint! With an American-smoker and coal fired oven at their disposal, dishes pack a punch with flavour. It’s a place people go the extra mile to reach, and it’s easy to see why.
The Porch House, Stow on the Wold
England’s self-proclaimed ‘oldest inn’ also happens to be one of the classiest, with stylish interiors, excellent gastrofare and luxe bedrooms. First opening its doors in 947AD, for centuries punters have been choosing The Porch House as their local and despite renovations this countryside inn has all its quirky and historic features intact. Perfectly suited for fine dining or a casual Sunday lunch, the menu boasts robust cooking, sourcing all ingredients from local suppliers. Even better, the grand opening of their breath-taking aromatic lavender garden is on Friday 19th April – what better excuse to whip on your glad rags and enjoy a glass of specially created herb infused cocktails?