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TRAVEL TIPS & INTEL

The Olde Bell: Stay and Feast at One of England’s Oldest Inns

Forty-five minutes from Central London, a 15 minute cab ride from Maidenhead or 20 minutes drive from Heathrow … and mere steps from a very pretty stretch of the Thames Path, the Olde Bell in the wonderfully quiet Berkshire village of Hurley offers a convenient getaway that’s historic, comfortable and delicious.

 

Reputedly England’s oldest coaching inn, parts of the nookish Olde Bell date back to 1135.

 

Across its centuries of operation, the inn has played host to conspirators plotting to overthrow the monarchy, housed meetings between Churchill and Eisenhower, and has provided accommodation to the likes of celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor.

 

Still, for all its history and antiquated charm, lodgings at the Olde Bell feature lots of mod coms. Free WiFi throughout the inn’s five buildings with bedrooms (which “range from spacious to bolthole”) and satellite telly along with contemporary creature comforts such as pure cotton sheets and extra Jakob’s wool blankets in all rooms ensure a restful visit just beyond but never isolated from the trappings of modernity.

 

Just as delightful as a stay at the Olde Bell is the opportunity to feast here. In fact the Guardian has included it among its 10 Top UK Food Holidays. With a menu incorporating plenty of locally sourced ingredients, the inn serves proper British dishes that are ample and scrumptious and worth the trip alone! Rustic recipes such as seven hour shoulder of lamb with potato gratin and rare roast venison with duck fat potato cakes and braised red cabbage are substantial and satisfying. Accompanied by an impressive wine list and local ales, exceptional puddings (great home made ice cream!) and afters highlighting local cheeses, the luxury of slipping from dining room to bedroom makes booking an overnight here most tempting!

 

The Olde Bell has a self-contained feel about it. Indeed, guests may find little reason to leave the delightfully bucolic setting. With its huge meadow garden and seven individually designed spaces for groups from eight to 150, the inn is an excellent venue for weddings, meetings and private parties. Of course, with the Thames Path nearby, a stroll through the village and along the river is a must. For extended visits, there’s plenty to do with the renown rowing village of Henley-on-Thames and the gourmand village of Bray in close proximity to Hurley.

 

For countryside convenience that’s surprisingly not as remote as it seems, the Olde Bell is an ideal destination for folks soon booking flights to London.

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