Stay here: The Inn @ West End
Take an award-winning pub in a pretty village, add stylish rooms and fab food. Add gin (easy when there's a comprehensive gin menu) and book up.
Mr Muddy celebrated a big-oh birthday on Saturday. And while Muddy Surrey HQ rocked til the early hours of Sunday, I also wanted to do something a little more sedate to celebrate.
For his 30th I took him to Las Vegas – I know, get me! – and we have a trip to Seville planned for later in the year – sorry, turn me off now if I’ve become annoying. But I wanted to treat him to a night away, and something local beckoned. I wanted somewhere with fab food and stylish rooms, somewhere Mr M could get to on a train from London, but that was also an easy drive for me.
Hello The Inn @ West End. And don’t you just tick all the boxes. Just a 20 min drive from Woking Station – where Mr M arrived on the delayed 18:43 from London Waterloo – West End is a cute little village surrounded by beautiful countryside.
A finalist in this year’s Muddy Awards, The Inn is no stranger to awards. And as if to prove that point it only went and won the John Smiths Best Wine Bar/Pub 2017 the very night we stayed.
It’s easy to see why this pub is scooping up the awards. It manages get it right on every level. A stylish bar for the locals (and hotel guests), stylish rooms and a restaurant with food that’s more in restaurant territory than even quality pub food.
The bar area is quite separate to the restaurant, and on a Thursday night was pleasantly busy with what I presume were a handful of locals. It’s a stylish bar, with an excellent drinks menu – from specialty gins to an award-winning wine list. The owners Gerry and Ann Price have a bit of a thing for wine (don’t we all!), and they’re committed to bringing wines from out-of-the-way places to their diners’ attention. In addition to wines from Champagne to Slovenia they have their own exclusive ‘Labradouro’ range.
SCOFF & QUAFF
After checking into our room, we hit the bar for a pre-dinner drink. Dry white for me, specialty ale for him. It’s a nice way to start an evening, and with the food menu in hand to peruse it wasn’t long before we were moving around to the restaurant. It’s a smallish restaurant, with an intimate and cosy feel.
There’s a focus on fresh seasonal food, and the menu changes regularly according to what’s available. Most of the food is local – game from the Royal Parks in Windsor, vegetables from local allotments and fresh fish from Brixham in Devon (perhaps not local, but pretty lovely regardless). The menu had a good choice, combining pub favourites like salt and pepper squid with the likes of red deer or Atlantic hake, mussel and bacon chowder.
I’m a sucker for seafood, and it was not different on this night – and Mr M was in a similar mood. For starter I went for the seared king scallops with celeriac remoulade, chorizo and crispy capers (£12), while Mr M went for the salt and pepper squid with harissa aioli (£7.50).
For mains, I clung onto the last remnants of summer opting for the fillet of seabass with new potatoes, summer vegetables and a caper butter sauce (£18) and Mr M went for the roasted skatewing, new potatoes, summer greens and a caper butter. It was all gorgeous. The scallops were divine, the squid perfectly cooked and both fish dishes, done to perfection.
Moving on to pud, we were a bit spoiled for choice. Mini choc brownie with honeycomb, choc bread and butter pudding with caramel ice-cream, dark chocolate mousse with charred orange and toasted nut crumb… it all sounded so good. In the end, I went for the English strawberries, clotted cream panna cotta and honeycomb and Mr M went for the fig and almond tart. Neither of us shared, and both declared our own the better pud.
It was a gorgeous dinner, made all the better by the fact we had only a short stagger to the bar for a nightcap (gin natch) and then another short stagger to bed.
A night away without the kids is a marvellous thing – and the beds here are super comfy perfect for a cosy sleep-in. The bathrooms, too, are luxurious with a massive walk-in shower and lovely Duck Island toiletries.
Breakfast was what you might expect from this kind of pub, with a good selection of fruits, cereals and yoghurts, as well as cooked options that includes egg, pancakes and porridge. Mr M went for the vegetarian full English, and I chose the scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and brioche, and I couldn’t fault it.
OUT & ABOUT
Bisley, the National Clay Shooting Centre is just down the road and the each room at The Inn has a safe for securing your firearms. West End is also home to Gordons School, the first boys home to be founded by Queen Victoria, in 1885. The Queen is still the school’s patron today.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Overnight escapees, larger parties, outdoor enthusiasts.
Not for: Those with young families – the vibe is more grown up.
The damage: Dinner, bed and breakfast packages start at £150. For just dinner, starters are from £6.95-£12; mains are £14.95-£24.50; and desserts are from £4-£7.50.
AND THE GOOD NEWS IS…
The lovely folk at The Inn are offering a luxury dinner, bed & breakfast stay for one lucky couple.