Booking accommodation for a wedding reception is a tricky business. You want the one at the top of the list of options but chances are it’s going to be fully booked or, so astronomically priced you feel you’d need a short break for the price. I must have been feeling fairly flighty the day this particular invite arrived because I went straight to the top of the list. After a very quick Google search I thought “ooh yeah”, rung and booked. It was only when I went back and looked again I realised The Wellington Arms in Baughurst is actually in the top 20 gastropubs in the country. Brilliant, a night away in Gastropub heaven! I was already looking forward to the wedding but now my excitement was beyond the normal realms of weekend-away-anticipation.
First thing I have to say is that the pub and its grounds are immaculate. I cannot imagine the number of hours that go into the care and maintenance of the gardens (which provide a lot of the fresh produce used in the kitchen). And that attention to detail was also reflected in the rooms. The rooms…… the beautiful, relaxed, divine rooms. There is something about solid oak beams and crisp linen sheets that makes my heart sing. It’s indulgent yet homely, modern yet relaxed, a balance not easily achieved. We stayed in The Barn and – in addition to the clean lines and modern feel – found plenty of little touches that made our stay really special. From the little bottle of fresh, local milk and home made shortbread to go with the full tea set, to the heavenly walk in shower and overly expensive but delicious toiletries. They’ve focussed on the right things to please guests.
Possibly because they only have four rooms, it seems the personal touch is magnified as you become part of the premises, grounds and it’s workings. Out of the window you could see across to the vegetable garden and just outside our door was the herb garden, which smelt incredible. The Wellington Arms have well and truly got their accommodation offering nailed. Anyway, we hadn’t been in the room more than five seconds when I firmly TOLD Paul that we would have to secure a late check out. The bed was like a cloud and there was no way on earth I’d be leaving it until the last possible moment.
Post wedding haze, hangover activated, the next morning we wake in the cloud bed and enjoy a luxurious lie in and a “proper” cup of tea. Then off we toddle off to breakfast, which is where the foodie fun really kicked in. First to assail the senses was the smell of fresh bread and coffee at the reception / bar. With a continuation of the homely vibes but with a more traditional interior, the pastries and freshly ground coffee add to the ambiance of this very traditional looking pub. The owner arrived shortly after with fresh flowers from the local market and wished us a good morning. We chatted about a local food market five minutes down the road and I pretty much wanted to move in then and there.
When we were given the”Welly Breakfast” menu to browse, I knew my hangover munchies would soon be kicked into touch. It’s a fairly well know fact that I love eggs, so the fact the menu was littered with options that featured free range hens eggs, laid by The Welling Arms own flock, made me pretty happy. Paul – of course – went for the full english but my eyes were firmly fixed on the french toast with crisp bacon, blueberries & maple syrup. OH EM GEE. Genuinely, THE best french toast I’ve ever tasted. I ate slowly (shocking) and savoured every morsel (not so shocking).
At this point you could be forgiven for assuming we would politely extol the virtues of this delightful place, pack up and head home. But noooooo, not us. We book in for Sunday lunch!
Honestly, as I type this I’m totally aware of what a porker I sound because just two and half hours later, Paul and I sat in the gardens to enjoy a three course lunch. With the sun shining, a book and a nice cool (non alcoholic) drink in hand, this may well have been the most perfect Sunday lunch ever. And that’s before we saw the menu, which was phenomenal in its own right. Packed full of their home grown produce and other locally sourced ingredients, the decision was not easy. In the end we asked for a recommendation and was advised to go with the shot of the day, partridge.
To get us started (because clearly we needed a starter) we graciously shared a scallop, pancetta and pea puree starter. That beautifully sweet, perfectly cooked scallop was light enough to comfortably make way for the shot of the day. The hearty roast partridge which came with a warning that it was so fresh, the shot may still be intact. It was divine and with the creamy mash and dark sticky sauce, it was not for the faint hearted! In the interests of giving a well rounded opinion, I felt it only right and proper to sample a dessert too, in the shape of some seriously sticky sticky toffee pudding. On the verge of a food coma, after all that I could actually have done with another lie down in that fabulous bed. I was in a very happy – slightly sleepy – place and luckily, I didn’t have to drive home!
It’s no surprise then…
I don’t have enough superlatives to tell you how fine the whole stay was. And I personally think that the whole thing was really reasonably priced, particularly the food. If you’re looking for a night away, far enough to feel like you’ve escaped normality but with total comfort and amazing food, The Wellington Arms is surely the place for you.