We visit a little-known part of the country that’s definitely worth visiting.
If urban living is starting to grate a little, and the idea of chilled times in a sumptuous setting appeals, then we may have found just the right spot for you.
We were recently invited to check out The Greyhound in the small village of Letcombe Regis, not far from Oxford. It’s located near the White Horse of Uffington, meaning that there is plenty to do nearby. You’ve got the beautiful walking areas of The Ridgeway and the Thames Path, plus lots of small villages and market towns dispensing the best of English curiosities and fascinating eccentricities.
From follies to multicolour pigeons, tales of Salvador Dali in a diving suit, Fairtrade Towns and buildings forever changed by the English Civil War, there’s lots to entertain you. And when you’ve explored, time at The Greyhound will recharge you ready to investigate more of this fascinating area.
The Greyhound is easy to spot on arrival in Letcombe Regis. It’s a small village, lined with charming thatched cottages. We were greeted by name by the friendly team as we wandered in from the car park; there’s a pretty garden at the back of the building, and on a summer evening, tables were already filled with people enjoying a chat and a drink.
Check in was swift, and we were led to our room for the night. I say room, but actually the Oxford is a suite, with a separate sitting room. The rooms – all individually decorated and named after local places – offer a beautiful balance of charm and efficiency.
You’ve got all the comforts of a really good boutique hotel: stylish décor, characterful furniture, and the kind of bed and bedding that makes you think you’re sleeping on a cloud. Then there are the additions that make you realise someone really thought the design through, from extra sockets by the bed and desk, along with fast wifi, to a plentiful supply of choices for hot drinks, complete with home made biscuits.
The lure of a roll top slipper bath and plenty of rather lovely smelling ungents took care of the next hour or two, along with a stretch out on the fabulous sofa in the sitting area. This doubles as a bed if you want to bring family with you. We were booked in for dinner later that evening. The Greyhound describes itself as an inn, and that’s well founded when you think of the original meaning of the term, providing hospitality for travelers, visitors and locals alike.
Dinner proved to be a great experience. From a reassuringly mixed menu of favourites and specials, we chose starters of a cheddar souffle with haddock chowder, and crab and avocado with confit lemon and radishes. My normally talkative dining companion was silenced by the souffle, emitting only occasional small moans of pleasure.
For the main, he chose roast hake, served with pea puree and ham and black pudding croquettes and a ham and mustard veloute. This looked like a celebration of summer on a plate, verdant with peas and mint. I chose a burger from the pub classics menu, served with bacon jam and a vegetable and walnut slaw. It was quite simply the best burger I have ever eaten: juicy, full of flavour and well balanced with the julienne slaw and some new potatoes on the side. I had to decline dessert, although I was rather jealous of the chocolate cremeuse, served with crumble and lime butterscotch.
As someone with food allergies, it’s always good to find somewhere to dine both safely and well. I loved that thought had been given to what would be suitable for me, and adaptations to the menu were readily suggested. This is a restaurant I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone with food allergies who loves good food, safely prepared. Give them a call in advance, and you’ll get the best of the creativity their kitchen provides.
We lingered to chat a while with the team. It’s great to find people with such a detailed knowledge of and passion for their offerings, including a well-chosen selection of local beers. No wonder they are CAMRA Country Pub of the Year in the area. We opted for a post dinner drink, before wandering out to see the beauty of the village at dusk.
Awaking to bird song the next morning, we found breakfast to be just as delicious as dinner. There’s a great range of cereals and pastries (including gluten free cereal and toast). From the breakfast menu, choices included smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, which were creamy and delicious. The full English was cooked to my needs without butter, and had more delicious offerings from the local butcher. It was the kind of breakfast to ready anyone for another day of exploration.
The Greyhound’s guests include those traveling for pleasure and business travelers. We found it a brilliant base from which to explore this fascinating part of the country, next to the much busier Cotswolds. I can also entirely see the charms of The Greyhound as a retreat during the working week, and one from which you could easily manage your workload in comfort.
We stayed as guests of The Greyhound, but opinions expressed in this review are, as always, our own. You can read more about a short break in the Vale of White Horse hereTeenager is Face of Birmingham charity’s fundraising appeal.