There are few more delightful ways to spend a night away than in a historic coaching inn with bedrooms and good food, and Bel & The Dragon Odiham was the perfect choice for a relaxing overnight stay.
Not only was it located in the lovely village of Odiham in Hampshire, home of RAF Odiham and just a short walk from the pretty Basingstoke canal, but the Grade II-listed building was full of charm and cosiness, including a classic pub ‘snug’, flagstone floors, low beams and good beers on tap.
A stay at Bel & The Dragon Odiham
This was my third stay at a Bel & The Dragon, having thoroughly enjoyed my visits to Bel & The Dragon Churt in Surrey, and Bel & The Dragon Cookham in Berkshire, and I was keen to see what the third one would have in store. The other two, while being different from one another, had excellent service, good food and a great attention to detail in common and it was soon apparent that the Odiham pub shared those characteristics while having some unique touches all of its own.
The collection of Bel & The Dragon pubs, previously owned by entrepreneur Joel Cadbury and now owned by London hotels and pubs company Fullers (who have recently snapped up several pub companies including the lovely Cotswolds Inns and Hotels), doesn’t feel like a chain at all, but a group of quirky, interesting, historic pubs located across southern England which have built a reputation for good food, large beer gardens, well-designed bedrooms and a classic pub atmosphere. The Odiham pub is located right on the high street, next to another pub and opposite a restaurant, placing it right at the centre of local life and handy for exploring the village.
Bedrooms at Bel & The Dragon Odiham
Before heading out to check out our surroundings, we checked into our bedroom on the first floor which was vast, with a high ceiling and, like all Bel & The Dragon bedrooms so far, it was immaculate with some nice touches; complimentary sloe gin, a rolltop bath and a 500-year old fresco painted on the chimney breast.
The beer garden at Bel & The Dragon Odiham was smaller than the other two I’d visited but no less pleasant, but as the weather was a little chilly we preferred to have an afternoon drink in the main pub area, which was nicely decorated with colourful cushions, mismatched furniture and various books, paintings and cheerful signs.
After a restorative pint of local ale, we headed off to the explore the delights of Odiham, discovering the local castle as well as the canal (where we planned a boat trip for the following day). Having had a large and late lunch we didn’t feel like having a huge evening meal, but instead indulged in some excellent cheese and dessert wine in our room, capably opened and poured by Tom, the extremely efficient and personable deputy general manager.
From the sounds of the bar downstairs, Bel & The Dragon Odiham is a popular place to go out on a Saturday night, so earplugs are best if you’re planning an early night, but it was nice to stay in a pub which is so clearly a mainstay of the village social life.
Breakfast at Bel & The Dragon Odiham
Having been fairly abstemious in the evening, we could enjoy a blow-out breakfast and Bel & The Dragon Odiham didn’t disappoint, with excellent full English and Eggs Florentine.
After a very enjoyable lazy breakfast with the Sunday papers and several coffees, we reluctantly bid Tom farewell and checked out of our room, but it wasn’t the end of our Odiham stay. Just a few minutes drive away was Galleon Marina where we hired an electric boat (which meant no loud chugging noise or diesel fumes from the engine) and coasted dreamily along the canal for an hour in the sunshine, a lovely way to end our Odiham stay.
Hotel information and to book Bel & The Dragon Odiham
Bel & The Dragon Odiham, 100 High Street, Odiham, Hook RG29 1LP
Read my other reviews of Bel & The Dragon Churt and Bel & The Dragon Cookham and if you like great pubs with rooms with character, take a look at my reviews of the Hare and Hounds Tetbury and The Bear of Rodborough, both also owned by Fullers.