THE WHITE HORSE, DORKING, SURREY
WHAT’S THE SCOOP? This 13th Century coaching inn is right in the heart of Dorking, a historic market town in Surrey. The building may be old – think creaking floors, sloping ceilings and wooden beams – but there’s nothing dated about the interior, thanks to £4m of investment in 2017. Previous guests include Daniel Defoe, Benjamin Disraeli and Charles Dickens, who wrote most of his first novel, The Pickwick Papers, here.
ARE MUDDY PAWS WELCOME? Yes. Dogs stay for free and there are a few treat jars dotted around the bar and reception area, so keep your eyes peeled! Four-legged visitors are also guaranteed to get lots of fuss from the staff.
AND WHEN I’M DOG TIRED? Take your pick from one of the 56 rooms at the hotel. They are split into four different categories – Cosy, Comfy, Spacious and Decadent – and all are gorgeous. We followed the maze of corridors to a Spacious room at the front of the hotel with high ceilings, a cool mustard and blue colour scheme and retro furniture.
I loved the little touches, such as the old dial-up phone and the tea and coffee tray with homemade biscuits. The modern shower room, with luxurious Green & Spring toiletries, was also a real treat and the bed was just perfect to sink into after a big feed in the restaurant downstairs.
Our room (number 24) was away from a lot of the other accommodation but quite noisy, thanks to the busy road outside. If you’re a light sleeper – or your dog is – you might be better off asking for a room at the back of the hotel. Car parking is also available for £10 per day but spaces are limited.
HOW ARE THE SCOOBY SNACKS? Yummy. The Dozen is a destination restaurant that has a unique “drink/dine/deli” concept. It predominantly serves pub classics but often, they have a modern twist – such as the fried mac ‘n’ cheese balls. The Sunday roasts are also legendary and the food is locally sourced wherever possible.
Don’t leave without trying one of the Dickensian-themed cocktails in the bar and if you’re looking to take some Surrey produce home as a souvenir, check out the Dozen Deli, which also serves a range of baked goods. Also look out for Gerald, the deli’s bright yellow van, zipping around town.
ANY FOUR-LEGGED FRIENDS TO PLAY WITH? No, but Dorking is very dog-friendly so you’re sure to meet plenty when you’re out exploring.
WHERE’S GOOD FOR WALKIES? For a quick morning or evening stroll, head to the Cotmandene, a few hundred yards from the hotel. It’s a lovely open space but it does have a road running through the middle so make sure you keep your dog on a lead.
Walk 15 minutes from Dorking High Street and you’ll discover the Deepdene Trail, which meanders through the beautiful Deepdene Estate. Here, you can discover one of the UK’s most historic Regency gardens, created by the Hope family in the 17th Century. There are a number of routes to follow, ranging from a 30-minute circular walk to a nine-mile hike. You can download a map of the trail here.
Further afield are the beautiful Surrey Hills, where you’ll find the steep footpath leading to Box Hill – the 2012 Olympic cycling route. The National Trust’s three-mile Box Hill Riverside Route is a lovely walk that takes you along the River Mole. Alternatively, head to the Devil’s Punch Bowl where you can stroll across open fields and shady woodland.
WHAT ERNIE LOVED: The sausage for breakfast, the roaring log fire, having so many great walks on the doorstep
WHAT I LOVED: The stylish decor, the delicious food in the restaurant, being in the heart of Dorking
GET ON THE DOG AND BONE: A standard double room at The White Horse, which is owned by Bespoke Hotels, starts from £50. There are always special offers and deals online, too. For more information or to book, visit the hotel website or call 01306 881138.