Escape the city by indulging in a long lunch at one of these cosy country watering holes, all just a stone’s throw from London.
There’s plenty to do at the weekend in London. Cosying up in a luxury hotel, wining and dining in the capital’s most romantic French restaurants, treating yourself to a spa treatment or getting boozy at a bottomless brunch; these are just a few of the many ways we like to spend our days off in the city.
But although our love for London is everlasting, even the most passionate relationships need a bit of breathing space, so every now and then we like to take a trip out of town and away from the grit and bustle.
There’s no better time to do this than in summer, when the UK’s green spaces look lusher than ever, and we can simply jump on a train to try out some of the loveliest country walks near London and check out the best staycation spots.
But as every self-respecting Brit knows, there’s no point going on a country escape (especially one that involves a long walk) if there’s not a good ol’ country pub nearby to reward your hard efforts. Our favourites have a mix of roaring open fires and rustic decor, a gastro but hearty menu and a wide selection of beverages to keep our thirsts quenched.
You might have a favourite in mind already, but if you need a little inspiration, check out these out-of-the-city gems. And be sure to take note of our handy travel tips, as they will tell you exactly how to get there, too.
The Black Rabbit, West Sussex
This idyllic country pub is the kind of place you might venture into after a long dog walk in the nearby nature reserve, treating yourself to a well-deserved Sunday roast or perfectly battered fish and chips.
It also has a sprawling outdoor dining space where you can watch ducks paddling in the river below, so consider planning your visit for spring or summer. To get there, you’ll need to get the train from Victoria to Arundel, which takes around 90 minutes.
The Black Rabbit, Arundel, Mill Road, BN18 9PA
Royal Standard of England, Buckinghamshire
This pub is worth a visit for its long history alone - it’s been around for an almost unbelievable 900 years, and has the atmosphere and charm that you would expect to find in a pub that boasts the title of the oldest freehouse in England.
As well as cosy interiors and a warming fireplace to enjoy on a chilly day, there’s also an impressive walled garden to explore. To get there, you can catch the train from Marylebone to Beaconsfield station, which takes around 25 minutes.
The Royal Standard of England, Forty Green, Beaconsfield, HP9 1XS.
The Anchor, Surrey
What better adventure on a weekend than enjoying some mouthwatering pub food in one of Surrey’s best country pubs, which just happens to look out over a picturesque canal.
The journey to The Anchor in Wisley includes a half hour train journey from Waterloo or Clapham Junction to West Byfleet, and a riverside stroll to get to the pub - which has a choice of outdoor dining or cosy fireside tables, depending on the weather and time of year.
The Anchor, Pyrford Lock, Wisley, Woking, Surrey, GU23 6QW.
The Coach and Horses, Hertfordshire
If you want to stay within reach of the tube, look no further than The Coach and Horses in Rickmansworth, which has the handy advantage of being on the Metropolitan line.
Once you get there, you’ll find a pretty covered patio (perfect for those all-season spring days when you’re not quite sure what the weather has in store) and a cosy interior complete with roaring fire, which makes the journey worth the effort - even on a rainy day.
The Coach and Horses, 22 High Street, Rickmansworth, WD3 1ER.
The Hand & Flowers, Buckinghamshire
The Duke of Cumberland Arms, Oxfordshire
This beautifully rambling country pub, which is located in an area which makes up the South Downs National Park, was built sometime in the 16th-century, although nobody is exactly sure when.
There’s a garden which feels just a little bit wild, and hearty pies and warming roasts on the menu to fill you up after your 50 minute journey from Waterloo to Haslemere and local bus to the pub.
The Duke of Cumberland Arms, Henley, Haslemere GU27 3HQ.
The Smack Inn, Kent
If it’s seafood that you’re after, consider a day trip to Whitstable, which is located on the north coast of Kent and accessible by train from London Victoria.
There you’ll find The Smack Inn, which is famous for its oysters and cask ales, and worth every minute of the one hour and 30 minute train journey.
The Smack Inn, Middle Wall, Whitstable, Kent, CT5 1BJ.
The Jolly Cricketers, Buckinghamshire
This pretty Buckinghamshire pub has now been featured in The Michelin Guide for seven years in a row, and even won the title of ‘pub of the year’ in the local Berkshire and Buckinghamshire awards.
It’s famous for its pretty interiors and rural charm, and serves a mean Sunday roast to boot.
The Jolly Cricketers, 24 Chalfont Road, Seer Green, Beaconsfield, HP9 2YG.
The Parrot, Canterbury
For anyone up for a more adventurous cross-country journey, Canterbury is a great option. To get there, you’ll need to take the train from St Pancras to Canterbury West, which involves a change at Ashford International.
Once you’ve made it to Canterbury, make aim for this extremely stylish gastropub, complete with pared down traditional interiors and a mouthwatering menu which boasts glorious sticky wings and a range of gourmet burgers.
The Parrot, 1-9 Church Lane, St Radigans, Canterbury, CT1 2AG.
Monty’s Inn, Hampshire
If you’re venturing out to the New Forest anytime soon, make sure you swing by this riverside inn for an award-winning ploughman’s lunch. It’s a bit of a trek to get there from London (hop on the train from Waterloo to Brockenhurst, then a bus to Filling station, then another bus to the pub), but it’s worth the journey for the serene scenery alone.
The Montagu Arms Hotel, Beaulieu, New Forest, SO42 7ZL.
Alford Arms, Hertfordshire
Not only is this destination pub nestled in the middle of a secluded wooded valley, it also lies in the shadow of the Chiltern Hills and Ashridge forest – making it just as popular with ramblers as those who have come to escape the city.
There’s a special emphasis on top notch food here, so the menu is mouth-wateringly innovative. It takes just over an hour to reach Frithsden from London, and the journey involves a train from Euston to Berkhamsted, followed by a short bus ride to Holy Trinity Church.
Alford Arms, Frithsden, Nr. Hemel Hempstead, Herts HP1 3DD.
The Cat Inn, West Sussex
This 16th century free house can be found in the beautiful hilltop village of West Hoathly, in the heart of the Sussex countryside. The surrounding countryside is popular with dog walkers, especially those who have just spent an hour or so wandering through nearby Ashdown Forest, so expect to see a furry friend or two relaxing by the fire.
For those who wish to spend a night away from the city, there are also four bedrooms, but it’s an easy getaway from London – to get there, just catch the train from Victoria to Three Bridges, then a bus to Broadfield.
The Cat Inn, North Lane, West Hoathly, RH19 4PP.
The George & Dragon, Essex
For another option that you can reach on the tube, try The George & Dragon in Epping – the quaint Essex town which lies at the very end of the Central Line.
This pub has stylish, cosy interiors for chillier days as well as plenty of outdoor space to enjoy in better weather. There’s also a vast menu which includes plenty of options for children and vegetarians, so no one will go hungry.
The George & Dragon, 208 High Street, Epping, CM16 4AQ.
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