Odiham is a picturesque and historic village in Hampshire, originally featured in the Domesday Book of 1086, also known for its connections with the Royal Air Force (RAF Odiham, the home of the RAF’s Chinook helicopter fleet, lies just to the south of the village) and for the ruins of Odiham Castle, built by King John in 1207 as one of his many strongholds. Just an hour and a half’s travel by car (or train to Hook Station) from central London, half an hour from the M25 and a mere 5 minutes’ drive from the beautiful Four Seasons Hampshire, this is a great escape from the city.
The Bel & The Dragon at The George
Halfway along the pretty little high-street in Odiham lies the Bel & The Dragon at The George, a beautiful inn, bar and restaurant within which you can relax and enjoy some stylish accommodation, sumptuous dining and a friendly, warm welcome. The Bel & The Dragon at The George itself is a Grade II-listed inn with features dating as far back as 1540.
As you enter between the whitewashed pillars with St George’s Crosses flying proudly either side, you are greeted by a quirky entrance hall with original stone flooring that on the left takes you into the lively Cromwells Bar, straight ahead leads you into the Restaurant and onwards to the outdoor terrace, and to the right you are met with a quirky reception-come-maître d’ station hidden within a wooden cubbyhole in the wall, where we were very warmly welcomed by our host Michelle.
The inn itself comprises of fifteen beautifully appointed bedrooms, exclusively styled in the Bel & The Dragon’s distinctive cosy-classic manner by interior designer Nicola Harding, who was actually also born in Odiham. There are bedrooms within the main hotel itself as well as newer rooms in the Stable and Coach House outside. Each room is different from the last with individual quirks and eccentricities like great big oak beams creating feature archways, beautiful painted chimney breasts, hidden nooks with children’s wooden bunk-beds and wonderfully indulgent free-standing baths. Each bedroom comes with crisp White Company linens and towels, fascinating photos of Odiham in times gone by, HD flat screen TV, old-fashioned Roberts radio and a complimentary Sipsmith Sloe Gin or Scotch Whisky – what more do you need?
Your every need is catered for at the Bel & The Dragon at The George with mornings beginning with a hearty breakfast complimented by an extensive selection of teas and coffees. Light or longer lunches can be enjoyed in the Bar & Terrace and if the weather’s nice enough I can highly recommend the terrace with plenty of seating surrounded by greenery and dappled sunlight trickling past the leaves of the large oak tree. Finally, in the evening you can relax in the beautiful surroundings of the Restaurant, with its old country manor house type feel, full of an impressive selection of beautiful freshly cut flowers, an eclectic mix of tables, chairs and lamps and doors that look out onto the terrace. Dinner features a delicious a la carte menu of nibbles, starters, mains and desserts full of interesting twists on an array of British classics all created with fresh, local and sustainable ingredients. From your table in the restaurant you can see into the open kitchen adding a touch of culinary theatre to your dining experience. There are vegetarian, allergy and gluten free options as well as a children’s menu, ensuring all tastes are catered for. I can personally highly recommend the Cornish Smoked Mackerel Pate to start followed by the Lobster & Crayfish Risotto, a rich and tasty affair, and for those with less sea-food inclined palates, the Marinated & Chargrilled Sirloin Steak was succulent and divine complimented by naughty-but-nice thrice cooked chips. A range of original and indulgent desserts are available too, my personal favourite has to be the Valrhona Chocolate & Honeycomb Mousse with fresh raspberries a dash of popping candy to create a little party in your mouth! There is an excellent wine list and the dessert menu also features suggested cocktails and spirits to perfectly compliment your chosen sweet.
So if you’re looking to escape the city and head to the country for some delicious dining, surrounded by historic, intriguing and stylish surroundings with a very friendly welcome, then look no further than this little hideaway in Odiham.
Room rates from £115 per night inclusive of VAT and breakfast.
Disclosure: Our property, service and product reviews are sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own and are in no way influenced by the sponsor.