Pining for large open spaces and fresh country air? These pubs are all close enough to town for you to countenance a day trip - and some have rooms to stay over if you fancy.
53 High St, Bridge, Canterbury CT4 5LA
From the same people behind The Fordwich Arms (see below), Bridge is actually the home of Fordwich chefs and owners Daniel and Natasha Smith and saw them taking over the local pub. Although it's more laid back than Fordwich, it still managed to win a Michelin star in an ultra-quick 10 months. This has a changing menu focusing on British produce and Marina O'Loughlin in The Times called it "sheer buzzy bliss."
Getting there: Take the fast train from St Pancras to Canterbury West and then it's a quick taxi journey.
Follow them on Instagram: @thebridgearms.
Guildford Rd, Mayford, Woking GU22 9QT
James Lyon-Shaw and Executive Chef Jamie Dobbin are behind this pub in the lovely village of Mayford. The menu offers daily, hyper-seasonal specials, and plenty of British game, meat and fish. Chef Jamie places the emphasis on wild food and local game, operating a nose to tail and rare breed policy on all his produce. The pub also features a private dining space seating up to 24 people and there is a beautiful terrace which seats up to 40 people.
Getting there: Take the train to Woking and then there's either a regularish bus service or it's a 5-10 minute taxi journey.
Follow them on Instagram: @thedrummingsnipe
The Street, Little Dunmow, Dunmow CM6 3HT
Chef Paul Croasdale is in charge of the kitchen here. The former head chef of Alyn Williams at the Westbury offers a range of menus which plunder his local Essex larder with a focus on foraged foods, local meats and sustainable seafood. There's also a particularly nice garden bar here for when the weather's good.
Getting there: Take a train to Chelmsford and then a bus to Little Dunmow or the pub can recommend local taxi services.
Staying over: The pub has three bedrooms (each named after a rare breed of pig) - complete with flat-screen TVs, Roberts radios and Nespresso machines.
Follow them on Instagram: @flitchofbaconLD
King St, Fordwich, Canterbury CT2 0DB
Securing a table at The Fordwich certainly gets you top bragging rights - this is a place beloved of foodies and fellow hospitality professionals alike. On cooler days, a table inside by an open fire is the place to be while summer days make their large riverside terrace and garden particularly beguiling. Here you'll enjoy extraordinary food with a defined local and seasonal bent. Do opt for the tasting menu if your budget allows.
Getting there: Take the fast train from St Pancras to Canterbury West and then it's a quick taxi journey.
Follow them on Instagram: @thefordwicharms
High St, Hunsdon, Ware SG12 8NH
Chef and co-owner James Rix trained up under Gary Rhodes and Alastair Little and was head chef at The Cow before moving to the countryside with his wife Bianca to open this gastropub. The menu changes daily and Sunday lunches are renowned and were recognised a few years back with a mention in the OFM Awards. There's a lovely covered terrace along with a big pub garden too which chef Theo Randall picked out as his favourite pub garden in the country.
Getting there: A fast train to nearby Harlow Mill takes 37 minutes and then it's a taxi trip to the pub.
Follow them on Instagram: @thefoxandhoundshunsdon
Main Rd, Howe Street, Great Waltham, Chelmsford CM3 1BG
Chris and Jeff’s Essex pub is properly historic with a building that dates back to the 14th century. Newly burnished with a Michelin Bib Gourmand, you can expect the brothers to serve up both pub classics and more modern dishes - so there is a pie, but it might be a slow-braised venison & root vegetable “French pie” served up with celeriac purée and quince. You can book ahead for the restaurant but the pub is walk ins only. Ouside there's both a covered terrace and extensive garden area.
Getting there: Take the train to Chelmsford. From there the regular X10 airport link bus to Stanstead passes through Howe Street and takes half an hour.
Follow them on Instagram: @galvingreenman
33 Windsor End, Beaconsfield, HP9 2JN
Husband and wife team Daniel Crump and Margriet Vandezande-Crump have a background in top restaurants - their CV includes Petrus, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and Trinity in Clapham. They took over this 700 year old coaching inn a few years back and are currently position number 33 on the Top 50 Gastropubs list. The menu roams all over the world for inspiration, but returns to Britain for the best produce. Sunday lunches cover the classics and there's an excellent vegan tasting menu for those searching for plant-based inspiration. For alfresco dining, there's a large walled garden.
Getting there: A direct train goes to Beaconsfield from Marylebone in under 30 minutes.
Follow them on Instagram: @greyhoundbeaconsfield
126 West St, Marlow SL7 2BP
Tom Kerridge’s gastropub in Buckinghamshire made history a decade ago, when it became Britain’s first pub to land two Michelin stars. There’s a separate bar area if you’re just after a drink - but really you’re here for the food The menu features elevated riffs on pub classics like steak and chips or a fish supper, along with dishes like Cornish ‘Tin Mine’ Tart with Spiced Date Sauce. Desserts are very strong too.
Staying over: Situated in two cottages on and off Marlow’s high street, the 15 rooms here come with one unmissable treat - a cooked breakfast at the pub the next morning. One even has a hot tub out on its terrace.
Getting there: The fast train from Paddington can be in Marlow in just over an hour.
Follow them on Instagram: @HandFMarlow
High St, Bray SL6 2AB
Heston Blumenthal’s Michelin-starred pub in Bray is situated in a beautifully restored 15th-century pub just metres away from The Fat Duck. Start with their take on Quavers as a pub snack and move onto dishes like the always-on pea and ham soup.
Getting there: Take a direct train from Paddington to Maidenhead in under an hour. It's a short taxi journey or a pleasant riverside walk to the pub from there.
Follow them on Instagram: @thehindsheadbray
95 Bidborough Ridge, Bidborough, Tunbridge Wells TN3 0XB
Both a Michelin Bib Gourmands and No 13 in the 50 Best Gastropubs list, The Kentish Hare features brothers James and Chris Tanner at the helm. The menu reads really well (the set lunch is an absolute steal) and there’s extensive use of their Big Green Eggs with a special BBQ section. If you’re just in the area for a walk, the bar area has its own bar snacks menu and a super wine and beer list. There's also an expansive garden area and terrace here.
Getting there: Take the train from London Bridge to Tonbridge and it's an under 10 minute journey on the No 7 bus to Bidborough.
Follow them on Instagram: @kentishhare
Horseshoe Rd, Bennett End, Radnage, High Wycombe HP14 4EB
With the kind of curb appeal that would make a film locations manager weep, the Mash Inn (named after owner Nick Mash) brings London’s obsession with the wood grill out to a bucolic setting in the Buckinghamshire countryside. There's a single set menu on offer here, that changes according to the season, what's good in their garden and what they're getting from gamekeepers and farmers. If you're lucky and here on a glorious day you should start with a drink outside by their pond.
Getting there: The train from Marylebone takes about 40 minutes to either Saunderton or High Wycombe and it's then a short taxi ride.
Staying over: There are six bedrooms - two of which are self-contained in the garden.
The Green, Wickhambreaux, Canterbury CT3 1RQ
Chef Billy Stock, who had previously worked at St John, The Marksman, Hill & Szrok and more, took over this pub in 2021 (a pub that's been there since the 1300s). Cooking here is described as rustic, simple and seasonal with the menu changing regularly. Dishes like Skate, Monksbeard & Blood Orange or Devilled Mussels & Nduja on Toast have been featured on the menu.
Getting there: Take the fast train from St Pancras to Canterbury West and then it's about a 20-minute taxi journey
Follow them on Instagram: @theroseinnpub
Faversham Rd, Seasalter, Whitstable CT5 4BP
This Michelin-starred pub regularly tops critics’ favourite restaurant lists and The Sunday Times’ Marina O’Loughlin is a longtime fan. Perched on the Thames estuary, the pub’s Chef Patron Stephen Harris and his team serve up an exemplary fixed menu of thoughtful dishes - the slip soles in seaweed butter are, rightfully, legendary. It’s the kind of place you can go for a walk on the beach, as we did, between the mains and dessert. A very special place indeed.
Getting there: The fast train from St Pancras to Whitstable takes just under 90 minutes. Then it's either a half hour stroll along the sea to Seasalter or a short taxi ride.
Staying over: They have 5 lovely self-contained cabins for two, and the rate includes a light breakfast.
Follow them on Instagram: @sportsmankent
2 Hare Ln, Claygate, Esher KT10 9BS
If you’re looking for something a little different from your usual country pub experience, then José Pizarro’s place in Esher is just the ticket. The menu offers all the delights you’ve come to expect from his London restaurant - Jamón Ibérico croquetas, pan con tomate - all transplanted to the countryside. There's a covered and heated terrace which is perfect for pretending you’re actually somewhere in Asturias rather than off the A3.
Getting there: Fast trains to Esher from Waterloo take around 40 minutes and it's a short walk to the pub from the train station.
Staying over: There are six comfortable rooms in the newly converted barn next to the pub.
Follow them on Instagram: @josepizarrorestaurants
Baughurst Road, Baughurst, Hampshire RG26 5LP
Recognised by both Michelin and The 50 Best Gastropubs list for its food, the menu here roams the British Isles for its provisions. They have their own kitchen garden, chicken coop and flock of sheep all of which makes their menu very low on food miles. You can even buy their sloe gin and preserves over the bar counter to take home with you. And, as you can see, the garden area is large and very enticing.
Getting there: Take a train from Waterloo to Basingstoke which takes 45 minutes. Then it's a 15 minute taxi trip to Baughurst.
Staying over: There are four rooms on offer, ranging from one over the pub to an oak barn - they're all very luxurious.
Follow them on Instagram: @thewellingtonarms
Petworth Road, Witley, Surrey GU8 5PH
Definitely not your average country pub, this one features what they describe as a “modern interpretation of firewood cookery and contemporary cocktails played out to a rock-a-billy, folk and classic blues soundtrack.” In practice, that means must-haves like nori tacos with ox cheek or cornflake fried avocado and a wide range of BBQ options and burgers that, while heavy on the high welfare meat, also provide loads of veggie treats too.
Getting there: Take to train to Godalming and then it's a short bus or taxi ride
Follow them on Instagram: @whitehartwitley
High St, Oxshott, Leatherhead KT22 0JR
Heading up the pub here is Matt Larcombe who's the former head chef of Heston's gastropub The Crown at Bray. He and partner Simon King have brought together a talented team to serve up what they dub "elevated British classics". Look out for a particularly good wine list. Grace Dent said she had "almost certainly the finest beef Wellington I will eat in this lifetime" there.
Getting there: Take to train from Waterloo or Vauxhall to Oxshott and then it's a short walk
Follow them on Instagram: @thevictoriaoxshott
The Bailiwick (Egham) - Run by chef Steven Ellis and just on the edge of Great Windsor Park, this makes the most of the link with the park gamekeeper with dishes like roasted loin of Windsor Great Park red deer making it to the menu
The Beehive (White Waltham, nearest station Maidenhead) - This pub has much-lauded chef Dominic Chapman in charge (he's recently appeared on Great British Menu). The seasonal menu has recently featured dishes like "Lasagne of Wild Rabbit with Wood Blewits & Chervil".
The Great Shefford (20 minutes taxi from Newbury) - This pub has just had a major refurb and has put chef Sam Cary in charge (previously The Hand & Flowers and Whatley Manor) for a Modern British menu featuring dishes like wild trout, fenugreek sauce, cashew and padrón peppers.
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