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Muddy review: The Lamb at Hindon

Escape city stress at this country pub near Salisbury with hearty home-cooked food and over 100 different whiskeys. Hangovers optional.

THE LOWDOWN

Desperate to destress? Then head to Hindon village – 16 miles from Salisbury and 10 from Warminster – for a night or two at The Lamb. Standing proud one one corner of the central crossroads, it’s no surprise that this rambling old stone pub dates back to the 12th century, and that it used to be a posting inn, supplying 300 horses for the post coaches that took all those wax-sealed love letters from London to the West Country. It’s kind of ironic, then, given its comms history, that there’s practically no phone signal here (but don’t worry, you can still wi-fi) – although that does mean that you’ve every excuse not to answer calls from work/DH/PPI companies.

THE VIBE

As soon as I turned into Hindon’s high street, my I starting breathing deeper than a transcendental meditation session as the tree-lined streets soothed my busy brain. I parked up on the street because the little pub car park was full – but there aren’t any parking restrictions so that wasn’t a worry. Once inside The Lamb I was struck by what a thoroughly country-classic this pub is – flagstone floors, low ceilings & beams, deep teal walls and worn wooden furniture, with mis-matched antique light fittings and ornate picture frames. I kept expecting to find a country squire slumped down the back of one of the sofas.

Or maybe a man in a kilt as there’s also a distinctly Scottish feel (thanks to the influence of a former owner, Ranald McDonal) with 100 types of whiskey behind the bar and tartan textiles here and there, and I think it probably come into its own in Winter with log fires, hot toddies and comfy battered couches.

Summer entertaining’s not forgotten though. There’s a Riveria-style terrace they call the “Hidden Decking” to one side of the pub with light wooden tables and chairs, festoon lights, umbrellas and a pile of snuggly blankets next to the door. Curiously, there’s also a bunting-bedecked garden (“The Lamb’s Lawn) but it’s across the road. However, I can imagine it’s popular on a sunny afternoon, particularly as the villagers use the neighbouring boules pitch.

SCOFF & QUAFF

A couple of locals were propping up that very well-stocked bar with a couple of ales when I walked in, and I noticed not only a big silver bucket of rose on the bar but a tray of whiskeys too. Signs that this is a great place to party.

When it was time for me to eat, I was shown to one of the restaurant’s aged wooden tables and plumped for a generous bowl of Pea and Mint soup as starter, sprinkled with seeds for that extra rustic touch.

This was followed by Pan Fried Hake with mash and asparagus. The food is hearty and comforting; homemade silken soup, mashed potato oozing with herb oil, and a soft, large piece of fish and well-seasoned veg. You can hear the kitchen from the restaurant (there are several spaces where you can eat, including a private dining room) and that adds to the informal atmosphere. Plus you can tell when your food’s ready.

For pudding I picked Panna Cotta decorated with chocolate sauce and just hit delete on my summer diet!

PILLOW TALK

I needed a good lie down after all that, so I made my way to my bed. Again with the Scottish thing – most of the bedrooms have Highland-fling-type names such as Glenrothes and Bruichladdich (although mine was Fonthill, which could also relate to Wiltshire’s Fonthill Estate) and they’re decorated with heavy walnut furniture, checks and stag head motifs. There are 18 rooms in total (there’s no number 13, so the final number is 19) and most of them are above the pub – but mine was in the old stable block outside – perfect if you don’t want far to totter far after a night’s carousing in the courtyard, but not so ideal if you’re after a quiet early night.

One of the most genius aspects of the rooms is the air-con – much needed in the heated summers of Britain’s climate change. I also liked the pile of old suitcases used as a bedside table and the fact that there were Bramley Products in my bathroom, made in nearby Semley. I think I fiddled around with the remote control for a while but couldn’t find Netflix, so slipped off into beauty sleep.

Breakfast came too soon, thanks to the blissful bed that was determined to make me to lie in longer, but I hauled myself up all in the name of duty and my mission to eat a full english. Served in the main dining room, the bacon and eggs was as you’d expect – good quality – but actually nothing exceptional. Still it included all the classics and set me up for a day’s sightseeing.

OUT AND ABOUT

Although Hindon itself is small, there’s a village shop straight out of Midsommer Murders (without the whodunnit), a pretty church and a stylish furniture maker’s Matthew Burt. The Lamb can give you plenty of advice about local walks too because Hindon is smack bang in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Just down the road (three miles) is Salisbury, with its cathedral that includes a copy of the Magna Carta and plenty of indie shops, bars and restaurants. It’s also a great place to base yourself if you’d like to explore the Stonehenge area, Longleat and Centre Parcs.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

GOOD FOR: Lazy country weekends with friends or family – dogs (additional charge) and kids are very much welcome (under twos go free). Also brilliant as a base from which to explore Wiltshire and know you can scoff a hearty, home-cooked meal at the end of a busy day.

NOT FOR: High glamour, dance music and high heels – this is very much an Aran jumper and wellies vibe.

THE DAMAGE: From £110 a night for a double. Book direct for the best rates. Free cancellation up to 12pm the day before, excludes saver rate. Bedroom rates are payable on arrival, no pre-payment needed. Credit card only needed to guarantee the booking.

The Lamb at Hindon, High Street, Hindon, Salisbury, SP3 6DP, Tel: 01747 820573

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