The Red Lion Pub & Kitchen
As the former local boozer of Wind in the Willows creator, Kenneth Grahame, and thriller writer Dick Francis, who wouldn't want to drop by the Red Lion for a drink? It's a classic 17th-century pub, tucked away in the tucked-away village of Blewbury at the foot of the Berkshire Downs in southern Oxfordshire, but was looking a bit tired until it was taken over and spruced up by Phil and Arden Wild in 2016. Blewbury is a bit of a hidden gem, made up of thatched houses, little lanes and elegant properties, and the pub is an undeniably cosy spot, with a flagstoned floor, big log fire, books and knick-knacks. But it's for the excellent food cooked by the experienced and very well-travelled chef-patron Phil Wild that most people come, and the fact that there are three comfortable en-suite bedrooms – Mole, Badger and Toad – with luxurious king size beds, flatscreen TVs, wi-fi, tea and coffee-making facilities, homemade biscuits and slippers, so you can easily slope off upstairs after you've finished your meal and make a proper weekend of it.
It's a great place to stay for lots of reasons: the rooms are comfy and the village is enchanting; the food is fabulous, a very moderately priced mix of British and French classics, mixed up with an Oxfordshire twist; and the area has lots to do: the Ridgeway is just a short walk away, as is the Icknield Way, so it's a good spot for walkers, but there's also plenty of interest for car and train fanatics in Nuffield Place, home of one of the pioneers of the British motor industry, now owned by the National Trust, and the amazing collection of steam engines and other railway paraphernalia at Didcot Railway Centre. If none of that floats your boat, you can just stroll or cycle the lanes and paths in and around the village. Whatever you decide to do, the Red Lion is a welcoming and very homely place to return each evening.
Two twin and one double room, each with en-suite an bathroom.
Double or twin rooms £95 a night, including breakfast.
Open all year.
Blewbury is on the A417, 4 miles south of Didcot, whose busy station is on the Great Western mainline and is just 45 minutes from London. There are plenty of taxis to make the 10-minute journey to the pub from outside the station available from outside the station so it;s a good option for leaving the car behind. If you'd rather drive, the pub is around an hour's drive from west London and has parking for 20 cars.
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