Is there anything more British than spending time in a pub? This question is obviously rhetorical since the answer is, of course, no. We Brits are known for treating pubs as an extension of our living room. But it goes beyond that. They are the venues for many of our biggest celebrations; weddings, new job drinks, that guy from finance’s birthday; as well as our biggest commiserations, getting fired, breaking up or as a last port of call before heading off travelling.
It’s the sense of homely comfort and steadfast reliability that makes British pubs such amazing places to visit. I’ve never been one to turn down a pint, as readers will know, so it was a delight that I was given an opportunity to review one of Young’s excellent pub hotels, the 500-year-old traditional British pub, the Windmill Clapham.
My summer package (August- 9 Sept) for two people included:
- Double room with super cosy bed
- Two course dinner with one select drink each (incl. alcohol)
- Hot breakfast (incl. full English, eggs benedict & continental selection)
This incredible deal can still be booked with the code SUMMER18 for anyone looking for a cheeky city break or countryside escape (you’re welcome :P)
We arrived on Friday, tired and exhausted from a the slog of the week. The prospect of a good night sleep and a slap up meal was probably all that kept us going.
Perched on the edge of Clapham Common, the sound of the road quickly fades away to a countryside feel with each step you take to the Windmill Hotel.
Our gorgeous room was decorated with a retro edge and felt a world away from the lively pub downstairs. Comforting colours, wood panelled walls and subtle lighting make this a room you want to spend time in. It was quiet – I couldn’t hear any noise from the bar – and had a view that looked out onto the greenery of Clapham Common.
Some unexpected luxuries also lay therein. An espresso machine helped to lift a smile on Kasha’s face and two freshly-made complementary brownies lay chilling in the fridge – a welcome treat paired with a tea before bed.
As you might expect with a Young’s pub, the restaurant’s menu served up proper British classics: comfort food at its finest. Much-loved staples such as beer-battered cod and triple cooked chips; pork, leek and stilton sausages with buttery mash and a 28-day-aged Angus steak all provided tough choices come dinner time. However, the allure of a traditional Chicken, Ham & Leek Pie proved too tempting. The piping hot filling, flaky shortcrust pastry and incredibly succulent chicken thigh made an irresistible combination. It’s easy to see why the humble chicken pie is one of the nation’s favourite dishes.
For the vegetarians out there, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Roasted & Filled Marrow. Fresh and tender, the dish overflowed with bok choy, borlotti beans and a butternut squash and chia puree with kale pesto that provided a balancing hit of sweet and salty. To bring the meal to a fitting conclusion – as those with a sweet tooth invariably do – Kasha chose a towering Eton mess sprinkled with pistachios and I a sticky toffee pudding with salted caramel ice cream that will no doubt linger in my mind for weeks to come.
Waking up on the edge of a park after a long, fulfilling sleep was rejuvenating. Knowing that we still had a delicious breakfast to set our weekend off right was even better. Still half yawning Kasha and I filed downstairs into the restaurant, breathing in the smoky aroma of fried bacon and the rich scent of roasted coffee beans. Laid out for guests was a generous Continental breakfast complete with fresh fruit juices and artisan bread.
Thankfully, our breakfast options were just as good as the dinner menu. Egg & soldiers, smashed avocado, eggs benedict and a full English (with a veggie option) are all massive crowd-pleasers. With an appetite as large as a humpback whale we were seated in the light and airy restaurant and I immediately ordered the full meaty Fry Up. The pork and leek sausage, black pudding and smoked bacon were exactly what my body ordered. Kasha meanwhile opted for the classy Eggs Florentine with a creamy Hollandaise sauce.
Max: pub dog & Instagram star
Being a Londoner, I’m deprived of seeing animals on a daily basis (save our cat Scully) so even the sight of a dog on the tube, office or pub is enough to leave a smile on my face for the rest of the day. Upon hearing then, that the Windmill was the home to Max, a four-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog, I knew I had made the right decision coming here. For those visiting the pub during the day, he’ll most likely be wandering around napping or following anyone who buys one of the homemade sausage rolls they serve at the bar (they are his favourite). He’s a friendly chap and more than happy to receive a cuddle or enjoy a good pet.
For the chance to meet Max alone, this pub & hotel is a winner. However, it’s the snug, homely feel of the Windmill that really makes this place special. Like being enveloped in a snowy white bathrobe, a stay here feels both comfortingly familiar and luxurious at once. If you are seeking a place to stay with close access to the delights of London (10 minutes tube to Waterloo), but without the crowds, this is the perfect romantic staycation.
Our stay at the Windmill was provided by Young’s, but as always, any opinions expressed are entirely my own.