The Beckford Arms

Tisbury, Wiltshire, United Kingdom Book from £95

A wonderfully unpretentious country pub with stylish rooms and lodges at great rates
The Beckford Arms is many things to many people. To foodies, it's a great restaurant and laid-back bar. To city folk, it's a perfect weekend retreat, offering comfy rooms and countryside walks. To locals, it's a favourite pub for a relaxing pint, and shooters, beaters and landowners prop up the bar. Owners Dan and Charlie (who formerly ran Babington House) are genuinely welcoming, and the ambiance is easy.

Just 2 hours from London, the ivy-coated Beckford is set on Wiltshire's rolling Fonthill Estate, with walks leading out from its duck-egg blue front door. The country pub essentials are all in place: wooden beams, pewter mugs, local ales and log fires. But there are also potted bay trees, wrought-iron lanterns, Le Creuset sugar bowls and Bloody Marys made with homegrown horseradish. It's upmarket yet refreshingly down to earth, especially where the prices are concerned. Couples love the hideaway location and it's a good option for families, with a large garden and a play area. As we said, many things to many people.

Highs

  • Well placed for exploring Wiltshire and surrounded by classic English countryside
  • Fantastic value for money: elegant rooms and little extras, including a free Bramley product for i-escape guests
  • Fabulous food ranging from fine restaurant fare (pan-fried pollock with cauliflower purée) to upmarket pub grub (cider-battered fish and chips and game pies)
  • Flexible accommodation: cosy rooms, a family suite and romantic lodges (with kitchens) just down the lane
  • Great service and a warm welcome that puts you instantly at ease

Lows

  • This is a working pub, so a certain level of noise does make its way up to the rooms until closing time
  • Some of the rooms are very small (Room 2 in particular)
  • No storage / hanging space for clothes
  • The lodges are a 10-minute walk down a country lane (no pavement or street lights) on private parkland. It is therefore subject to separate booking terms, which will be sent during the enquiry process

Best time to go

The Beckford is open all year, and makes a lovely getaway whatever the season. Summer is gorgeous for lazy days in the garden, spring and autumn provide glorious natural colours on the estate, and the pub is a cosy bolthole in winter thanks to its open fires (and hot water bottles!).

Our top tips

Ask about movie and pizza nights when you arrive - both are often on offer at the weekend, depending on the weather and season. Classic films are shown in the pub via a projector and there's a wood-fired pizza oven in the garden.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Pub with rooms
  • 8 rooms + 2 lodges
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 25 Dec 2015
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Petanque
Room:

Rooms

The décor is contemporary country, with lovely touches throughout. Walls are pale shades of Farrow & Ball, carpets are seagrass. There are fresh flowers, pretty water glasses, internet radios, hot water bottles, even a special herbal tea to drink before bed. And in true homely style, you get a teapot with a cosy; urns of fresh milk are left outside your door each morning.

Kingsize beds, Egyptian cotton sheets and Siberian goosedown bedding guarantee a good night’s sleep, and excellent water pressure (a treat in old buildings like this) makes morning showers a pleasure. Some bathrooms are compact, but all are immaculate. You get a pleasing array of Bramley products, too - a fragrant organic range originally created just for The Beckford.

We stayed in Large Double 7: a light-filled space with a rolltop bath under the window - perfect for romantic getaways. We also loved Medium Double 1 with its French windows and Juliet balcony facing an old magnolia tree.

The large Attic room is a great option for small families. In contrast, the Small Doubles are particularly compact and a little dark. This is reflected in the price, but unless you're on a real budget they're worth avoiding, especially if staying more than one night.

On our most recent visit, we stayed in one of the Splendens Pavillions, located 10 minutes down the lane, on private parkland within Fonthill Estate. They offer a gorgeous rural take on loft-living; light and airy, with well-equipped kitchens, open-plan lounges and mezzanine bedrooms with rolltop tubs gazing across the green. There’s also a warming wood burner for winter and outdoor space for soaking up the summer sunshine.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Hairdryer
  • Ipod dock
  • Iron
  • Radio
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • Wifi internet
  • Wifi internet

Eating

The Beckford's food measures up to the hype; everything we ate was fantastic. The restaurant is relaxed and airy (French doors, parquet flooring), but if you prefer, you can eat in the bar, on the patio, in the lounge - and happily, there are no pretensions over which fork to use.

The 'fine fare’ changes according to season and supply; everything is fresh. The only problem is choosing... We were almost swayed by the roasted rainbow trout with chorizo and cannellini beans, but in the end we plumped for the steak with bone marrow and chips (it didn't require a steak knife, which says it all). Afterwards, my chocolate tart with black berries was perfectly sweet.

For lunches, there are pub classics with a twist at the bar (cider-battered fish and chips, game pies). It's very popular with locals, so book ahead and make time to revel in the pub ambiance. There are local ales (try the Beckford Phoenix), great cocktails and an extensive wine list. And should you get hungry whilst perched on your bar stool, a range of snacks are offered with a flourish - think wild boar salami or fish fingers with sorrel mayonnaise.

But our favourite part was waking up from a great night's sleep to a hearty breakfast. There's a help-yourself table and you can order something hot. We went for the Full English (the local sausages were superb), and the Eggs Royale. When we return, we'll try the waffles and a bloody Mary...

Those staying in Splendens Pavillions can walk up to the pub for breakfast or make use of their cute little kitchen. The team will stock your fridge with ingredients - local Foots Farm eggs, smoked back bacon, Berkshire pork sausages, plus everything for tea, coffee and toast - ready for whipping up a lazy breakfast and (in summer) dining al fresco on the lawn or terrace.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Food and wine
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • There are beautiful walking routes within the Fonthill Estate - ask for maps and wellies if it's muddy. Don’t miss beautiful Fonthill Lake, where they filmed Chocolat
  • Fly fishing, deer stalking and shooting (or simulated game shooting) are all possible on the estate – the team can assist with arrangements
  • 14th century Old Wardour Castle (on the other side of Tisbury) is a great place to while away an afternoon; explore its many rooms and beautiful grounds before stopping off for lunch at nearby the enchanting Pythouse Kitchen Garden
  • There are lots of racecourses nearby, if you fancy a flutter (Salisbury, Wincanton and Bath) and the excellent Rushmore Golf Club is an easy 30-minute drive
  • Despite being in a different county, Bath is an easy day trip (40-minute drive); admire its Georgian architecture, visit the famous Roman baths and bathe in the natural waters at the Thermae Bath Spa
  • Back at the Beckford, have a massage in your room, borrow a DVD from the library, or laze in the garden

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Deer stalking
  • Fishing
  • Food and wine
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse racing
  • Shooting
  • Well being
  • Wildlife

Kids

The Beckford Arms is great for families with a large garden and lots of room for kids to run around, so they don't disturb other guests. However, the rooms are small and only one is really set up to accommodate families (see below). Travel cots (free) are available to use.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

The Attic is the only room suitable for families; tucked in the eaves, has a double bedroom, a sitting area, and a tiny bedroom with a small double mattress (suitable for 2 children).

Baby cots are permitted in Medium Doubles 1 and 3 and Large Double 7 only. Note that there are no extra beds, but Medium Double 1 and Small Double 2 can interconnect (with children staying in one of the bedrooms).

Babysitting:

Babysitting can be arranged on request

Baby listening:

Baby monitors are available and extend as far as the restaurant

Baby equipment:

  • Travel cot

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

There's no official kids menu and there are no cooking facilities for guests, but there are child-pleasers on the menu like beefburgers and fish pie plus the option of a full roast chicken for you all to share for Sunday lunch. Kid-sized pizzas are also available from the wood-fired oven in summer

Kids Activities on site:

  • Large garden with a dedicated play area and a Petanque piste
  • Board games
  • DVD collection to play in the sitting room via projector
  • Sunday movie nights (from 8pm, older kids only)

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Farmer Giles (10-minute drive)
  • Old Wardour Castle (10-minute drive)
  • West Knoyle Bush Farm Bisons (10-minute drive)
  • Longleat Safari Park and House (20-minute drive)
  • Stonehenge (20 minutes) and Avebury (1 hour) for a megalithic weekend out
  • Salisbury, for cinema and wet weather activities (30-minute drive)

Families Should Know:

Noise from the bar can travel upstairs. Children are not permitted in the Splendens Pavillions.

Distances:

  • Airport 1.5 hours
  • London: 2 hours
  • Hospital: 25 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
9/
Food
10/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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