THE CROMWELL ARMS, ROMSEY, HAMPSHIRE
WHAT’S THE SCOOP? If you’re keen to experience some Hampshire hospitality, check in to The Cromwell Arms. This gorgeous gastropub, run by Fuller’s, is a great place to drink, dine and stay on the South Coast. The River Test – famed for fly fishing – practically runs past the front door and the area’s angling success is celebrated throughout, making the pub a real must-visit for fishing fans.
ARE MUDDY PAWS WELCOME? They sure are. There are plenty of water bowls dotted around, both inside and out. Ernie also clocked a big jar of treats at reception, which he kept leading us back to. Pets are welcome to stay in certain rooms for an additional £8 per night but only one dog is allowed at a time. They are also welcome in the bar and orangery, but not in the main restaurant.
AND WHEN I’M DOG TIRED? We stayed in the super-stylish Dawson’s Olive room, which is named after a famous trout lure. When we visited, the Deluxe room had only been open to guests for about six weeks as it is housed in a new extension, accessed via a conservatory-style corridor. Handily, this runs alongside a small enclosed garden, making late night and early morning ablutions a breeze.
The room had a warm, homely feel and was tastefully themed around fishing, with everything from feature wallpaper to angling posters and fly fishing lures on display. The retro light fittings and Victorian-style radiators may have been a nod to the past, but the room was kitted out with all the latest technology, such as a DAB digital radio with Bluetooth. There was a bottle of Fuller’s own London Pride beer waiting to be enjoyed, as well as a Nespresso coffee machine, Teapigs tea and homemade shortbread.
I loved the clever, space-saving design touches – the fridge on the wall was a great idea and the curved bathroom was a striking addition to the room, especially when teamed with the bold feature tiles. The fluffy white robes and Cole & Lewis toiletries were also much appreciated.
HOW ARE THE SCOOBY SNACKS? Delicious, and many dishes champion local produce. The “social plates” – which include breaded halloumi and black pudding croquettes – make great light bites, while the main meals have something for everyone and include burgers, steak and stilton pies, salads and grilled salmon. The Sunday roasts are also a hit with both locals and guests.
I was very impressed with the drinks on offer, too. Not only does the bar stock a fantastic selection of gins from all over the world but there’s a great choice of cocktails and wines. Breakfast is a fine affair too, and the service is super-speedy. Ernie joined us for both dinner and breakfast in the beautiful orangery beside the bar. It’s a really lovely space which, during the summer months, opens right out onto the courtyard area.
ANY FOUR-LEGGED FRIENDS TO PLAY WITH? No, but you will probably encounter several other dogs in the bar area, whether they’re staying over or have just popped in for a bite to eat.
WHERE’S GOOD FOR WALKIES? The pub is located in the Test Valley which, with its beautiful countryside and chocolate box villages, is arguably one of the prettiest parts of Hampshire. You won’t go short of riverside walks thanks to the River Test – one of the finest trout and salmon rivers in Europe – practically running past the pub. Look out for the gravel road next to it, which will take you to Romsey’s War Memorial Park.
Lovely walks can also be enjoyed in the grounds of the National Trust’s Mottisfont Abbey, which is home to the National Rose Collection. Maps for dog walkers highlight where you can and can’t go but to see the main highlights, the Trust recommends a six-mile walk around the estate, which takes around two hours. Spearywell Wood, a 15-minute walk from the abbey, is also well worth exploring.
From The Cromwell Arms, it’s a short stroll into Romsey itself, which has a spectacular Norman Abbey dating back to 907 AD. The Broadlands Country Estate is very close too, but don’t try and visit with a dog – they’re not at all welcome, even in the grounds. The cathedral cities of Salisbury and Winchester are also both within a 30-minute drive.
WHAT ERNIE LOVED: His breakfast sausage, making a den under the desk in the room, the variety of walks nearby
WHAT I LOVED: The stylish rooms, the great selection of drinks behind the bar, the general pub vibe
GET ON THE DOG AND BONE: Rooms at The Cromwell Arms start from £95 per night, including breakfast. If you book direct via the pub’s official website, you can generally save 10% on stays. For more information, call 01794 519515 or visit The Cromwell Arms website.