When the Mail’s hotel inspector first visited the Crown & Garter in Berkshire it threatened legal action over his scathing review. Now it’s under new management – but what’s changed?
- The Crown & Garter in Inkpen, Berkshire, has been taken over by a local woman who has various enterprises
- The main bar area has been modernised and there’s a big emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients
- Remember… The Inspector pays his way – and tells it like it is…
A return visit to the Crown & Garter in leafy and prosperous Inkpen, Berkshire. It didn’t go well several years ago and the people in charge got cross, disputing every tiny criticism and threatening legal action.
Which is like a film director suing a critic for calling his movie a turkey.
The new owner is a local woman who has various coffee shops and enterprises, including a cafe in Hungerford, all under the name of Honesty.
The 17th-century Crown & Garter in Inkpen, Berkshire. The Inspector says the red-brick frontage is its ‘finest feature’
There are ten rooms at the Crown & Garter, which sit around a courtyard
She’s made some big changes at this pretty country pub and improved the food in such a way that it’s unrecognisable to how it was.
Even so, it’s a pity that the entrance is at the back of such a handsome building that dates back to 1640. Its red-brick frontage is its finest feature.
The main bar area has been modernised, which means farewell to the open fire and hello to indifferent furniture, with nothing much of inspiration on the walls.
The ten rooms sit around a courtyard, where there are various tables and chairs, and there’s a further large grassy area at the front of the pub, which must get busy at weekends.
The Inspector complained that there was nothing much of inspiration on the pub walls
The new owner of the country pub has ‘improved the food in such a way that it’s unrecognisable to how it was’, The Inspector says, left, while the interiors have also been overhauled, right
The Inspector found that the main bar area had been modernised, but with ‘indifferent furniture’
Crown & 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.
We’re here on a Monday and it’s quiet, but the young man who checks us in is infectiously bubbly.
He’s also the chap who serves us drinks, brings our food and I dare say he lends a hand with the washing up.
There’s a big emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients, and it pays off.
The mushroom Scotch egg starter is a triumph and hats off, too, to the basil-crusted rack of lamb sitting on delicious fondant potato.
All rooms are similar in size, although ours is the only one with a bath.
Not sure you would want to spend more than a night here.
It feels like staying in a better-than-average motel, which might be because the rooms are all on the ground floor and you sense the decor might be identical.
But it’s good value, friendly, and a marked improvement over the previous regime. Honestly.
THE VERDICT FROM THE FIRST VISIT…
The Inspector first visited the Crown & Garter in 2009. Here’s a taster of the review he penned afterwards:
This is a dreary pub with eight ground-floor, motel-like rooms built round a charmless courtyard at the back. When we arrive, the sun is shining, but the bar and restaurant still manage to be gloomy.
Our room is neat, tidy and sterile. The bed has a thick pine headboard and the bathroom is functional enough, if you don’t mind those plastic shower controls that save on hot water.
It’s not quite warm enough for dinner outside so we find a corner table near the bar. No imagination has gone into the decor and not a lot into the food, either. The ‘Arbroath smoky fishcakes’ are heavy on potato, light on fish and come swimming in a sickly cheese sauce. The steak and kidney pudding is plain heavy.
This is not a happy ship and we’re pleased to be abandoning it.