If you acquired a dog in lockdown, you’ll likely be on the lookout for staycation spots that treat your beloved (and your partner, I guess) like one of the family.
The idea of holidaying abroad is still making plenty of us nervous, and paired with the astronomical prices of doggie daycare centres, a weekend in London is looking more and more appealing.
Just as well, then, that I’ve tried and tested a gloriously dog-friendly pub with rooms, in leafy Clapham. The Windmill is perched on the Common – prime for squirrel chasing and far-too-large-stick-collecting – and prides itself on creating a haven for four-legged friends (not just the ones crawling up to their respective bedrooms after sinking three bottles of wine).
I arrived one chilly Sunday afternoon, hungover. And what better greeting could I have asked for, than a nuzzle from gorgeous, gigantic, Max: the hotel’s resident Bernese Mountain Dog. Quickly followed by a glass of wine in a cosy booth, at the back of the pub’s boutique-y seating area. Then finally, a look at surprisingly sumptuous new digs.
The Windmill‘s 42 rooms are divided into four types: Boutique Doubles, Boutique Twins, Feature Common Rooms and enormous Master Suites.
I made myself at home in a Feature Common Room, where I discovered two soft robes, a glorious freestanding bath, a huge flat screen TV and views of the surrounding greenery. “Yep, this will do just nicely”, I thought, before drawing the curtains and concocting a bubble bath of sorts out of the posh hand wash.
Scrubbed clean of my sins, it was time to head downstairs to meet more thoroughly excellent dogs (Max now snoring happily in the corner) and order a Sunday roast.
Scrubbed clean of my sins, it was time to head downstair...
I was told to act fast, as they were flying out of the kitchen – and after seeing a few plates whizz past my head, it was easy to see why. Plates towered high with delicious-looking meats and Yorkshire puds doused in gravy. Yum.
With no time to dither over lemon thyme chicken leg or pork belly, I recommend splitting the sharing roast with a choice of Ginger Pig prime cuts: 800g Cote de Boeuf, Tomahawk or T-bone served with all the trimmings (£70). If you’re not in the mood for a full roast, the sharing platters offer a good selection of bites – the summer mezze board (pictured) is heaving with treats.
Veggies will be equally pleased with their options, the likes of corn ribs with chimichurri, beetroot fritters, or pea & fettle croquettes never feeling like an afterthought.
The newly refurbed pub garden is worth a mention, the ideal spot to invite you mates for a catch up over a bottle or two (fancy seeing them here!). You can eat your dinner outside, check out the spanking new Burger Shack (no prizes for guessing what they sell) or even reserve a spot in ‘The Max Shack’ garden hut. The latter holds up to 30 people, and is available for private functions – a great option to have up your sleeve if you’re planning a celebration in London.
Throughout, there are fun extras like this. A run-of-the-mill pub this is not, and staff are friendlier than most. Take a closer look at sofa cushions and you’ll see they’re emblazoned with mini Max faces, the walls hung with framed, tongue-in-cheek paintings. It’s a delightful place to while away the day, big screens showing sports games and long wine lists available for perusal.
There’s something really fun about simply wandering upstairs to bed after last orders, knowing someone will kindly fix you a Full English the next morning and your journey home is going to be a breeze. You could blow away the cobwebs with a quick jog around the Common, but it’s much more fun to take Max’s lead and have a lie in. He’s the Master of the house, after all – it’d be rude not to. follow his commands.
Book a stay at The Windmill, Clapham.