As a guest of The Bush Hotel in Farnham you enjoy the best of all worlds. Steeped in history but embracing contemporary design and offering a personal touch in the way that only an independent family-run hotel can.
Surrounded by the Surrey hills and nestled in its own private gardens in the heart of this attractive historic town, the hotel still feels like it’s away from the hustle and bustle of the high street, with its quiet and relaxed ambience.
After parking in the secure – and free – car park at the rear, the first feature we noticed as we headed down the path was the beautiful ivy-clad original elevation which overlooks the private garden lawns and terrace area.
Inside more than lives up to initial impressions and a warm welcome on a chilly January Saturday strikes exactly the right note for the stay ahead. The interior is adorned with original features and there’s an abundance of history and character to be appreciated in every room of the main building, including 17th century beams and exposed wall frescos.
This individuality and charm also extends to the hotel’s 94 bedrooms, each, I’m told, uniquely designed, our Bush Suite being the largest and grandest room located in the oldest and most characterful part of the hotel. Elegantly decorated, the opulence of space and contemporary décor was a welcome touch of luxury. I particularly appreciated the walk-in wardrobe, also containing a mini fridge and safe. And as for that sumptuous bed, well, a full night’s sleep is all but guaranteed!
Nice too to have the option of a soak in the bath after a busy day exploring.
A pre-dinner tipple in the intimate Bush Bar was the perfect way to whet our appetites. It’s also an incredibly comfortable space in which to hang out with a roaring fire on the go, an unobtrusive wall-mounted TV showing sports, for those who want it, and tasty bar snacks, local ales and sommelier-selected wine list available.
The attractive Garden Restaurant and Oak Lounge offer all-day dining options, with seasonal menus for lunch and dinner as well as afternoon tea. The Garden Restaurant is where we enjoyed a hearty breakfast – a combination of cold buffest items and a good choice of freshly cooked hot plates from the menu. The perfect start to the day.
But it was the dinner menu, taken on this occasion in The Oak Lounge, that posed a challenge – what to choose? Classic British dishes done well is the mantra here – think Fish and Chips, Bush Burger, Chicken Supreme, Sirloin Steak as well as Braised Pig Cheeks, Beetroot and Brie Tart and Pan-fried Seabass. Prices range from a palatable £16.50 through to £25 (for the steak).
From the Small Plates Menu we opted for Ham Hock Croquettes, which were flavoursome and plentiful (perhaps too plentiful for a starter) and Sweet Potato Falafels, served with hummus and toasted croutes. While these lacked in flavour, I feel that any of the alternatives – Asian chicken, Mini Fish Bons Bons, Skewered Prawns or Homemade Soup of the Day may have proved a better bet on the tongue.
I’m convinced I chose my main well, however, with the Bush Cottage Pie – served piping hot with buttered greens and rich thyme gravy – I was relieved I’d resisted the temptation earlier in the day to snack as this was a very generous sized portion and I wanted to devour it all. Mission not accomplished however since I’d already spotted Apple Tarte Tatin on the Desserts Menu and absolutely had to make room. No regrets here! Hubby’s Pan-Fried Seabass was also a hit, beautifully enriched by the flavour of the noodles peppers, sugar snaps, onions and chili stir fry it was served with.
He was equally as satisfied with his Sticky Toffee Pudding, served with lashings of toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream – another British favourite that didn’t disappoint.
Chocolate and Raspberry Fondant with raspberry sorbet; Seasonal Berries Cheesecake with berry compote and Selection of Cheeses made up the other options. Priced at £7 – and £9.50 for the cheeses.
With a Light Bites Menu offering the likes of Minute Steak, Smoked Salmon Ciabatta and Fish Finger Sandwich, among others, there’s every excuse to call in for lunch when in the area too.
The Bush Hotel forms part of Farnham’s Heritage Walk and should be anyone’s stay of choice while in the area. It punches way above its three-star rating.
And if you have time to explore, be sure to spend a couple of hours at The Sculpture Park in nearby Churt. With more than 650 contemporary sculptures from 300 internationally renowned artists displayed throughout 10 acres of arboretum and water gardens, this makes for a fascinating stop-off. This hidden gem provides a tranquil and peaceful escape for anyone who enjoys art and nature and is open all year round.
There’s also a delightful country inn, Bel & The Dragon directly across the street so perfect for pre- or post-visit refreshments.
Known for its Georgian streets, historic buildings and craft heritage, Farnham offers you the chance to enjoy quintessential England – and only an hour from the capital. Designated in 2013 as ‘England’s Craft Town,’ the roots of Farnham’s engagement with crafts can be dates back to the time when the town exported white clay to the Romans. Fast forward to today and craft still sits at the heart of its distinctiveness. If, like me, you’re never happier than whilst whiling away hours in craft centres and markets, this place is a must visit.
Other points of interest while in the area:
Waverley Abbey – England’s first Cistercian abbey still gives an impression of the solitude experienced by the monks who founded a monastery here almost 900 years ago.
Farnham Castle – Founded in 1138 and sits above the town.
Museum of Farnham -The vast range of artefacts from the town include a mammoth’s tusk and skull cap worn by Charles I during his stay at Vernon House, on his way to his trial and execution.
Birdworld – This 26-acre park is home to hundreds of unusual birds, a fabulous farm and an aquarium.
The Rural Life Centre – A museum of past village life set in over 10 acres of garden and woodland and plays host to numerous events throughout the year.
Markets – From the award-winning certified farmers’ market to the Maltings Monthly Market, there’s usually plenty of opportunity to browse local goods and produce.