Bel & The Dragon Odiham – The Telegraph
Set on the high street of the charming village of Odiham in northern Hampshire, just 40 miles south-west of London. Walk out the front door to admire the 17th and 18th century architecture. Behind the car park there’s a footpath that leads through fields and along a canal up to the ruins of Odiham Castle. Alice Holt forest is nine miles (14.5km) away and has trails and a Go Ape ropes course for daredevils.
Style & character
This higgledy-piggledy pub has had a smart refurb, so while the low beams remain, the colour scheme is more Scandi-by-way-of-the-English-countryside, with retro Roberts radios and grey-blue patterned upholstery a soothing juxtaposition with pleasingly battered English antiques.
This is a place to be comfortable: bathrooms are modern, with walk-in showers and Bramley toiletries; some rooms have claw-foot tubs. While the pub and sitting room exploit the old part of the building to best advantage, the dining room is in a bright, modern addition.
Service & facilities
Bel and the Dragon is a friendly and welcoming place – to people and dogs of all ages – and the vibe is laidback and festive (there’s complimentary sloe gin and damson vodka dotted around the bedrooms and corridors, lest you find yourself thirsty in the night). For such a well-run hotel, the service in the restaurant is a bit hectic.
Rooms in the main building have low ceilings, but are well-designed: the family room has a clever annexe so children sleep safely in bunk beds around the corner from parents – giving each side an unusual amount of privacy for a family room at this price range (though, located directly above the bar, the family room picks up sounds of revelry from below). Rooms in the outbuildings have higher ceilings, are quieter, and offer more space.
Food & drink
The Odiham branch of this seven-location chain shares a menu with sister hotels, and it’s solid, seasonal English fare done well: there’s a rotisserie (suckling pig with perfect crackling), a Josper grill, and a particularly appealing children’s menu, featuring healthy, home-made takes on classic favourites.
Breakfast is as indulgent (blueberry pancakes with caramelised bananas) or abstemious as you wish to make it. The wine list is well-thought-out and reasonably priced, and the bar is the perfect place for a pre- or post-dinner drink.
Value for money
Double rooms from £115 per night. Breakfast included. Free Wi-Fi.
Access for guests with disabilities?
Yes; three rooms in the Stable House annexe are wheelchair accessible.
This is a fantastic hotel for families. Simple touches – unusual children’s books and comics dotted around the rooms and common areas – mean that young people are always entertained, but they don’t dominate. The dining room is a great place for adults, but there’s also a family table made of black board, which comes with giant chalk, for decorating while you wait for supper.