The Black Horse Inn, Thurnham

Exterior of the Black Horse Inn, Thurnham

What’s The Black Horse Inn like?

This relaxed 18th Century inn is located in the peaceful hamlet of Thurnham, near Maidstone. The family-run pub has barn-style rooms dotted around the grounds and it’s right on the Pilgrims Way so there are plenty of fantastic walks nearby. It is also renowned for its locally-sourced food – and ales.

How dog-friendly is The Black Horse Inn?

It’s incredibly dog-friendly and the staff are real animal lovers – Ernie was offered a treat before we’d even checked in! All guests travelling with their four-legged friend will have a ‘doggy basket’ waiting for them in their room, containing some old towels and bed sheets. And although dogs are not allowed in the main restaurant, the pub has its own ‘Dog Loft’ for people wanting to dine with their pooch. Pets are also welcome in the bar and garden area, and you’ll find several poo bins dotted around the grounds. There’s an additional charge of £10 per pet per night.

Spacious room at the Black Horse Inn, Thurnham

Tell me more about The Black Horse Inn

There are 27 en-suite rooms spread around the grounds, away from the main pub. They are all named after flowers and look like weatherboarded barns so are very cute. There’s plenty of parking, too. We stayed in Foxglove, just across from reception and next to The Pilgrim Suite, which is a popular wedding venue. Fortunately, there were no events taking place on the night we stayed so all we could hear were birds tweeting and the tinkling water from the fountain outside.

The room itself was incredibly spacious and felt very homely, with floral pictures and a colourful feature wall behind the bed. There were tea and coffee making facilities, complimentary biscuits and lots of storage, plus H2K of Harrogate toiletries in the bathroom. Considering the rooms are all away from the pub, the WiFi signal was excellent and everything was spotlessly clean. In fact, when we arrived, the wood-style floor was still a bit wet! There were lots of thoughtful little touches too, such as a hanging basket by the front door and an umbrella, in case of rain.

Dog Loft at the Black Horse Inn, Thurnham

What’s the food like at The Black Horse Inn?

Really good. The menu is rather meat-heavy but has something for everyone – including vegetarians. The food is predominantly upmarket pub grub so expect to find staples such as pork belly and burgers. I opted for the tasty onion and cauliflower bhaji burger, which was served in a quirky black bun. The wine list is also extensive and the breakfast options – for both large and small appetites – are great.

The inside of the pub is an attraction in itself, though. It is so atmospheric and a little bit like a maze. The ceilings are adorned with hops, there are lots of cosy nooks and crannies and wingback chairs with cushions featuring dogs or slogans like “Dogs welcome, people tolerated”. It’s definitely our kind of place!

Are there resident dogs at The Black Horse Inn?

No, but there will be plenty of pooches to say hello to. When we checked in, there were two Westies and a Whippet waiting to be taken to their table for lunch and we saw several other dogs during our stay.

Sign for Pilgrims Way opposite Black Horse Inn, Thurnham

Where are the best dog walks near The Black Horse Inn?

The pub is right on the Pilgrims Way – the 150-mile route medieval pilgrims followed from Winchester in Hampshire to the shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury. The team at The Black Horse Inn have compiled a guide to walks that start from the front door. It has something to suit all abilities, with walks ranging from 30 minutes to just under four hours. You can find out all about the walks on the Black Horse Inn website, or ask at reception for a paper copy.

The pub website also has lots of information about local attractions and handily, says how long it will take to reach them by car. The nearby Hucking Estate is a lovely place to enjoy a woodland walk – especially during bluebell season – and the open-air Museum of Kent Life makes for a great day out. Bewl Water is also dog-friendly all year round. There’s a great 12.5-mile walk you can do around the reservoir – but dogs must be kept on lead in the nature reserve and out of the water at all times. Click here to see a map of the route.

Weatherboarded exterior of the Foxglove room at the Black Horse Inn, Thurnham

What Ernie and Stan loved about The Black Horse Inn

The fuss from staff, the quiet location, all the treats

What I loved about The Black Horse Inn

The fact dogs are so warmly welcomed, the barn-style accommodation, the wonderfully atmospheric pub – and, of course, the food!

How to book The Black Horse Inn

Double rooms start from £95 per night, including breakfast. For more information or to book, call 01622 737185 or visit The Black Horse Inn website.

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