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.
The Black Rabbit, Arundel, 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.
Mill Rd, BN18 9PA; theblackrabbitarundel.co.uk
The Royal Standard of England, Forty Green, Beaconsfield, Bucks
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.
Forty Green, Beaconsfield HP9 1XS; rsoe.co.uk
The Anchor, Wisley, 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.
Lock Lane, Wisley, Woking GU23 6QW; anchorpyrford.co.uk
The Coach and Horses, Rickmansworth, 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.
22 High Street, Rickmansworth WD3 1ER; thecoachandhorses.info
The Thatchers Arms, Warley, Essex
If you’re planning a weekend jaunt in Essex, consider a visit to this sixteenth-century drinking hole, which even serves a special beer brewed on site. There’s a nature reserve right next door, making this the perfect spot for lunch after a refreshing morning walk. To get there, you’ll need to get the train from Liverpool Street to Brentwood, which takes 35 minutes, and from there it’s a half-hour walk to the pub.
Warely Road, Warley, Brentwood CM13 3HU; thethatchersarms.com
The Hand & Flowers, Marlow, Buckinghamshire
This stunning pub was the very first pub to receive two stars in the Michelin Guide, so it’s every bit worth the 25 minute train journey from Paddington to Reading, and then the local bus to Spinfield Lane in order to get there. When dreaming up this pub, the owners wanted to create somewhere that they could imagine themselves time on their days off - and the result is just as relaxing and inviting as you’d hope.
126 West Street, Marlow, SL7 2BP; thehandandflowers.co.uk
The Duke of Cumberland Arms, Henley, 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.
Henley, Haslemere GU27 3HQ; dukeofcumberland.com
The Smack Inn, Whitstable, 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.
Middle Wall, Whitstable, Kent, CT5 1BJ; smackwhitstable.co.uk
The Jolly Cricketers, Seer Green, 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.
24 Chalfont Road, Seer Green, Beaconsfield, HP9 2YG; thejollycricketers.co.uk
The Parrot, Canterbury, Kent
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.
1-9 Church Lane, St Radigans, Canterbury, CT1 2AG; parrotcanterbury.co.uk
Monty’s Inn, Beaulieu, 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; montaguarmshotel.co.uk
The Plowden Arms, Henley-On-Thames, Oxfordshire
If it’s history that you’re after, look no further than the atmospheric Plowden Arms in Henley-On-Thames. Cosy corners, candle-lit tables and fireplaces make this the perfect pub in which to spend a rainy afternoon, and the menu features comforting favourites such as puff pastry pies, sausages and mash, and beer-battered cod. To get there, you’ll need to catch a train from Paddington to Reading before getting a bus to the pub.
Reading Road, Shiplake, RG9 4BX; plowdenarmsshiplake.co.uk
Alford Arms, Frithsden, 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.
Frithsden, Nr. Hemel Hempstead, Herts HP1 3DD; alfordarmsfrithsden.co.uk
The Cat Inn, West Hoathly, 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.
North Lane, West Hoathly, RH19 4PP; catinn.co.uk
The George & Dragon, Epping, 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.
208 High Street, Epping; georgeanddragonepping.co.uk