Having left the furious onslaught of Vauxhall station just 40 minutes ago, the immediately warm and relaxing welcome came as a pleasant shock. The White Horse has recently undergone a £4m refurbishment, so I was sceptical about its new incarnation as a boutique hotel. I needn’t have been. Every penny spent on the revamp has been deliberated over, with décor that teases the imagination. Homages to Charles Dickens, who used the hotel as a setting for the Pickwick Papers, are dotted around the hotel. You’ll find books in the rooms and a writing room dedicated to the writer.
The curious 18th century former coaching inn is a maze of steps and passages leading to comfortable, homely rooms. The nooks and crannies and warm sofas and roaring fires make for a heartening home away from home – the perfect place to settle down for the night after a long walk through the Surrey hills. Visitors to the hotel can and should go for a hike through Box Hill, Westhumble and Leith Hill; a designated area of natural beauty and the highest point in the otherwise flat south of England.
The hotel’s restaurant, The Dozen, models a ‘drink, dine, deli’ menu, to cater for all visitors at all hours in the day. As part of the regeneration, head chef James O’Grady has been drafted in to rejig the menu. The investment was worth it – the pancakes alone are a reason to hot-foot it from London. I doubt during my lifetime I will ever again eat something so plump, fluffy and perfect. The à la carte menu features a truly memorable white crab salad and a slow braised game pie that a couple next to me were cooing over. It’s a simple menu that will keep locals coming back for more. This is what you want from an English country hotel: friendly, good food and a beautiful backdrop. My only regret is that I didn’t stay longer.
Published in Le Prestige Scandinavia