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Getting away for a bit of rest and relaxation does not always mean hopping on a plane, sometimes all it takes is a night or two away from the ‘norm’ in order to restore your well being. With ‘staycations’ becoming more and more popular, I decided to head to the Surrey Hills for a night away at The White Horse Dorking.
Nestled in the heart of Dorking, standing true to its original build from 1278, The White Horse is a juxtaposition to the high street shops it is nestled between, yet somehow it still works. It is clear to see the hotel holds a lot of history, with the most famous guest being Charles Dickens during the mid-19th century when he took up residence to write The Pickwick Papers. Today, The White Horse in Dorking is a hotel as well as a restaurant and bar (both of which are open to the general public as well as hotel guests.)
The first thing I noted about the hotel was how big it was, a rabbit warren of corridors holding 56 rooms, not something that would be expected from looking at the exterior of the building, The White Horse is quite a Tardis.
We were booked into the ‘Indulgent suite’ – A double room with king-size bed and en-suite shower room complete with freestanding bath and a large rainfall shower. If you are looking for a relaxing night away, the room alone could sell The White Horse in Dorking.
Spacious yet cosy with modern interiors which still give a nod to the hotel’s historic roots. Rooms all come with coffee and tea machines, as well as luxurious soft white dressing gowns, perfect for settling down in after a soak in the bath.
As previously mentioned the hotel does have a restaurant, however, if you are really looking to relax then room service is available all throughout the night. Breakfast is can also be delivered fresh to your room the next morning, but on a weekend this is only from 10 am, which may not be suitable for an early riser like me. But, if you are a fan of a long lay-in, you do not need to check out of your room until 12 pm the next day.
During the evening we checked out both the bar and the restaurant. The bar has a cocktail happy hour between 5-7 pm, making it very popular with guests and locals alike, aside from the main bar, there are various sofas dotted around to provide seating for a catch up with friends. If you are not a fan of cocktails, there are also various local ales and wines, a nod of support to fellow local businesses of the Surrey Hills.
In the restaurant, there is a fair range of traditional pub classics alongside European dishes, with options for both Vegetarians and Vegans. Where possible local produce is used and it again becomes apparent The White Horse is very much for supporting small and local, with this increasing the quality of the food which they serve.
A downside we saw in the restaurant and bar area was a lack of speed and at times attentiveness from the hosting staff. This was not a major issue for us, we were there simply to relax, however, we did notice it become a small concern to a neighbouring table. But, I will say where the service lacked in speed it made up for in charm, when the time was on their side, the hosting staff were friendly, helpful and seem to take a genuine interest in conversation. Something which is often lacking in larger chain hotel groups.
At breakfast, when the restaurant was quieter and the bar not open, we did not find this issue at all.
If after your stay you are looking for things to do in the Surrey Hills area, you can head over to The Denbies Wine Estate (where much of the hotel’s local wine is sourced) or if gin is your tipple there is also a local distillery.
For those who like to get outside, you will find plenty of trails and walking areas, with my favourites being Box Hill and Painshill, two places perfect for continuing your relaxing weekend.
With rooms starting from £89 per night (£134 for the decadent rooms), The White Horse in Dorking is not somewhere you will head for a budget night away but somewhere you will book into to relax and restore your well-being in a cosy and timeless environment.
Our visit to The White Horse in Dorking was as part of a press visit.