The Running Horses
This old 16th-century inn sits on what once upon a time would have been the main Brighton-London road, in the centre of the pretty village of Mickleham, which sits right by scenic Box Hill, the highest point on the North Downs. It's a village pub basically, and all the better for it, with a cosy bar and roaring fire and catering to locals as well as guests. The name stems from its time as a place for stabling racehorses from nearby Epsom, but its glory days were as a popular coaching inn on the said main road – days which have now been revived, as it's once again a comfortable place to stay, although its location as the focal point of the village is a much quieter one since they built the M23. They have just five rooms, all en-suite and equipped with Nespresso coffee machines and free wifi. Each room is named after a different racecourse and tastefully furnished with ultra-comfy Hypnos beds, bathrooms with posh toiletries and rather nice luxury rain showers, while two also have roll top baths. Downstairs they serve a very nice, deliberately simple and pleasingly short menu of rustic food that changes regularly but always includes a selection of steaks, served with beef dripping chips. If that's not your bag, choose from starters like smoked haddock chowder or kidneys on toast and mains like fish pie, lemon sole or crispy pork belly. It's part of the same group that owns the excellent Porch House in Stow-on-the-Wold, and it's an equally cosy, unpretentious bolthole – great for blowing the cobwebs off jaded Londoners, and perfect for scaling the heights of Box Hill.
Double rooms from £110 a night.
Open all year.
Very easy to reach: come off the M25 at junction 9 and follow the A24 south, past Leatherhead towards Dorking. The Running Horses is just outside Dorking, right by the edge of Box Hill.
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