The Plough Inn
The perfect getaway for frazzled parents - you'll feel like you're miles away, and yet it's right here in the heart of Surrey
These days it’s rare Mr Muddy and I get a night away, what with the growing menagerie of pets and children that require care in our absence (two cats, two kids, two fish, one dog – with another puppy a possibly on the way *squeal*!!).
So this week when Mr M had a couple of days off work and Grandma Muddy offered to move in for a night to give us frazzled parents a break, we had the car packed and the wheels spinning out of the drive quicker than you can say ‘Sayonara Senorita’.
Our destination was a no-brainer. Not long ago I reviewed The Plough Inn in Coldharbour. It’s a charming country inn packed with character, and the food was fabulous. They also have gorgeous rooms, so dinner, bed and breakfast – here we come. The inn is in a brilliant spot for anyone looking to get away for a night, but who don’t want to spend hours in the car. I live in the north-east of Surrey, and it took 45 minutes door to door.
Location wise, it’s also brilliant, lying as it does at the foot of Leith Hill. There’s a beautiful 1.8 mile circular walk through woodland, heathland, and farmland taking you to top of the hill and the majestic gothic Leith Hill Tower. It was almost a shame to leave the pooch at home. Almost!
We arrived late afternoon and walked up to the tower. It’s the highest point in the south east, and the views are spectacular out over the Surrey Hills. On a clear day you can see to London in the north and the English Channel to the south. This is also a great mountain biking spot, with miles of trails, most of which start at the tower. You’ll find more info on that here, if it’s your thing.
For me though, it was back to the bar at the Plough Inn for a pre-dinner pint of the pub’s own-brewed craft beer. I had Crooked Furrow, a refreshing but rich dark amber bitter which is also quite light at only 3.9 per cent.
There was great vibe in the bar, with a mix of people: three generations of a family who we’d just seen walking on Leith Hill, several couples of varying ages, and some groups of friends. It’s difficult for pubs to get it all right: but this place has tamed that tricky beast and is both an approachable local pub and a brilliant destination pub.
Within an hour, the bar area had thinned out, the lights had dimmed and the restaurant area stood firmly centre stage. Last time I ate here, I’d ordered from the winter menu. This time, spring had sprung. In an effort to be a little less greedy than usual, Mr Muds and I shared a starter: the grilled mackerel in dulse butter. It was a good sized portion for two sharing (though not intended as a sharer) and damn fine.
For mains, I ordered from the specials board: the mussels in a chilli, coconut milk, lemongrass and coriander sauce (£15.95); while Mr M went for the wild mushroom and blue cheese ravioli. The waitress recommended the chunky chips with rosemary and parmesan which we duly ordered, although we really didn’t need them. They were divine – but greedy did spring to mind.
For puddings we were greedy all the way. Mr M chose the toffee crème brûlée, which was perfect for his sweet tooth, put possibly a bit sweet for mine. I went old-school and chose the white chocolate bread and butter pudding, which came with whipped Baileys cream. This moved me from greedy to gluttonous. But it was worth it.
The rooms are upstairs each individually decorated and they’re all pretty damn gorgeous. They’re classically vintage with touch of quirk. Each room is named after parts of the local area. We were in The Duke’s Warren, named after a part of Leith Hill. It’s a family room with a kingsize bed, and is also available as a twin room. An extra cot or child’s bed can be added.
The beds are super comfy and the bathroom ticks all the boutique hotel boxes: freestanding bath, enormous rose shower head, big fluffy white towels and quality miniature products.
Good for: frazzled couples needing a night away, romantic breaks, foodies and groups of friends wanting a sophisticated shindig, walkers and cyclists.
Not for: I’m struggling to think of those who wouldn’t like this hotel. But if you’re after a more urban environment, then don’t head for these hills.
£££: Rooms at the Plough Inn are from £89 a night for a small double to £120 for a family room. Breakfast is included. I had the full English. It was very good.