“A wonderfully unpretentious country pub with stylish rooms and lodges at great rates”
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.
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.
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.
Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)
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 can be arranged on request
Baby monitors are available and extend as far as the restaurant
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
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
Noise from the bar can travel upstairs. Children are not permitted in the Splendens Pavillions.