Hotel review

Hotel review: Inspector revisits Crown & Garter in Berkshire

When the Mail Hotel inspector first visited Crown & Garter in Berkshire, he threatened legal action for his scathing examination. Now it’s under new management – but what has changed?

  • The Crown & Garter in Inkpen, Berkshire, has been taken over by a local woman who has various businesses
  • The main bar has been modernized with an emphasis on local ingredients
  • Remember … the inspector pays his way – and says it as if it were …

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A return visit to the Crown & Garter in leafy and prosperous Inkpen, Berkshire. It didn’t go well several years ago and officials got angry, disputing every little criticism and threatening legal action.

It’s like a director suing a critic for calling his film a turkey.

The new owner is a local woman who owns several cafes and businesses, including a cafe in Hungerford, all under the name Honesty.

The 17th century crown and garter in Inkpen, Berkshire. The inspector says the red brick facade is his “most beautiful feature”

There are ten rooms at Crown & Garter, which are set around a courtyard

There are ten rooms at Crown & Garter, which are set around a courtyard

She made some big changes in this lovely country pub and improved the food in such a way that it is unrecognizable to what it used to be.

It’s still a shame that the entrance is at the back of such a beautiful building dating from 1640. Its red brick facade is the most beautiful element.

The main bar area has been modernized, which means goodbye to the open fire and hello to indifferent furniture, without too much inspiration on the walls.

The ten bedrooms are set around a courtyard, where there are various tables and chairs, and there is another large grassy area at the front of the pub, which must be occupied on weekends.

The inspector complained that there was not much inspiration on the walls of the pub

The inspector complained that there was not much inspiration on the walls of the pub

The new owner of the country pub has

The interiors of the pub have been revamped

The new owner of the country pub has “improved the food in such a way that it is unrecognizable to what it was,” says the inspector, left, while interiors have also been revamped, right

The inspector noted that the main bar had been modernized, but with

The inspector noted that the main bar had been modernized, but with “indifferent furniture”

TRAVEL FACTS

Crown and Garter, Great Common Road, Inkpen Common, Berkshire, RG17 9QR. Doubles from £ 85 B&B. For more information call 01488 668325 or visit Crownandgarter.co.uk.

Evaluation:

We’re here on a Monday and it’s quiet, but the young man who greets us is infectious bubbly.

He’s also the guy who serves us the drinks, brings our food and I dare say he helps out with the dishes.

The emphasis is on locally sourced ingredients, and it’s worth it.

The entry of Scottish eggs with mushrooms is a triumph and hat, too, to the basil-crusted rack of lamb sitting on a delicious melting potato.

All bedrooms are similar in size, although ours is the only one with a bathtub.

Not sure you want to spend more than one night here.

You feel like you are staying in a better than average motel, perhaps because the rooms are all on the ground floor and you feel that the decor can be the same.

But it’s good value for money, user-friendly, and a big improvement over the previous regime. Honestly.

THE VERDICT OF THE FIRST VISIT …

The inspector first visited the Crown & Garter in 2009. Here is a taste of review he wrote after:

It’s a dismal pub with eight motel-like ground floor rooms, built around a charmless courtyard at the back. When we arrive the sun is shining, but the bar and restaurant still manage to get moody.

Our room is clean, tidy and sterile. The bed has a thick pine headboard and the bathroom is quite functional, if you don’t mind those plastic shower controls that save hot water.

It’s not hot enough to dine out so we find a corner table near the bar. No imagination went into the decor and not much in the food either. “Arbroath smoked fish cakes” are rich in potatoes, light in fish and come swimming in a sickly cheese sauce. The steak and kidney pudding are just plain heavy.

She is not a happy ship and we are happy to abandon her.

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