PUBS & PATIOS: Boots off at Britain’s best pub
Britain’s best pub insists that patrons dump their dirty boots before entering. But it’s not new-found hubris that motivates The Baskerville in Henley-on-Thames – Gold medal winner of Visit England’s Pub of the Year award for 2020 – rather that many of its patrons have simply been exploring a nearby walking and hiking trail that is no yellow brick road.
Indeed, muddy boots – and soggy dogs – are “most welcome,” states the pub, with the two entities often arriving together as hungry and thirsty walkers amble in after a ramble along the famed Thames Path long-range trail, which follows the river through Oxfordshire a stone’s throw from the pub.
While boot-wearers may tuck into a traditional pie or ploughman’s lunch at pub, the pups can actually drink from a range of dog-friendly (non-alcoholic) beers produced by the Woof & Brew pet drinks company.
Of course, given its name, the establishment is bound to be pet friendly. Former owners belonged to the Baskerville family, whose “association with fierce dogs were among the inspirations for Conan Doyle’s ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles,’” according to the pub’s website. The association is reflected in the Baskerville’s coat of arms.
As for pub-of-the-year status for 2020, Visit England says the award is based on “pubs that make a significant contribution to tourism in their area, with a food and drink offering that includes quality locally sourced produce.”
The Baskerville’s culinary offerings, featuring such dishes as wild boar ragout, beer-battered cod, and grilled swordfish, have helped the pub earn an AA 1 Rosette award for culinary excellence since 2014.
The drinks list includes multiple wines, 45 single malts and four cask ales.
Other highlights include a peaceful garden patio in back (photo), music on Sunday nights, and guests may choose to stay in one of four bedrooms in the four-star inn as a stop along the Path, or as a base to explore Henley-on-Thames, which has been named one of the most beautiful towns in England by The Times newspaper and is noted for its annual Henley Royal Regatta (rowing).
The Baskerville, owned by the Hannah family for nearly 20 years, is located at 7 Station Rd., Lower Shiplake, about 3 km (and walkable) from Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire. It’s also about an hour’s drive from London or 20 minutes from Maidenhead. Hours are 11 to 11 Tues-Sat., and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays.
First published at Travel Industry Today