Dining Al Fresco

Dining Al Fresco

by D Hodgkinson

Pubs in Tunbridge Wells

Pubs (short for public houses) are an integral part of English Heritage.  This is no different in Kent where they are historically safe havens to break a journey and rest weary heads and feet, with the added joy of some refreshment and sustenance. 

Now society has developed into a less nomadic existence (and journey times have become quicker), pubs are places to be social with your neighbours and friends.

As such the inherent essence of the pub today remains that of a warm welcome and cosy atmosphere.

The pubs in the Tunbridge Wells region come in all guises.  The rise of the ‘gastropub’, more of a restaurant than a pub, is definitely here to stay and provides top class fare and refreshment in a sumptuous and bountiful setting.

Many are so exquisitely decorated (no sawdust floors here), you’ll believe you have entered another era in many respects, not least one of laid back conviviality and good service.

Aside from this there are more casual pubs, friendly dining pubs, small pubs, pubs with accommodation (or inns), pubs with gardens and play areas and even an opera pub!

Best country pubs for food

Most pubs these days do serve food, colloquially known as ‘pub grub’.  However, times have moved on from bangers and mash and a paltry ploughman’s.

Today, hostelries pride themselves on their offers of fresh local produce. The great English Sunday Roast remains very popular and widely available, as is fish and chips.

Out in the borough of Tunbridge Wells, we have a selection of 85 convivial town and country pubs combining the old-style and contemporary at their best.  In Royal Tunbridge Wells, the town has over 40 pubs and bars to choose from.

Here we have hand picked a few for you; all serve real ale and some of the best local produce. 

1. The Vineyard at Lamberhurst, reminiscent of noble Wedgewood china and contemporary glassware à la Laura Ashley, does a great variety of unusual bar snacks as well as posh pub lunches and dinners. 

In the summer, join in the barbeque on their decking in the large pub garden.  Next door to a living vineyard and overlooking the Wealden landscape, this is a smart place to stop on your travels.

2. The Great House at Hawkhurst is well known in the area for fine dining.  This pub is perfect to add in to your scenic tour of the Weald particularly as it is a white clapboard building from the 1500s.

It used to be 2 cottages and was frequented by the local smuggling gang in days of yore! It still has its enclosed cottage garden which is a delight to sit in during the warmer weather.

3. The Kentish Hare, Bidborough is not far from Royal Tunbridge Wells.  Privately owned and a firm favourite with locals, this pub is very well patronised.

At the start of 2016, it won the ‘Best Newcomer at the top 50 Gastro Pubs awards’ and you’ll find it is easy to see why.  You will probably need to book to eat here.

Casual drinkers are equally welcome; local real ale and real cider are available. 

4. The Green Cross Inn at Goudhurst is a ‘free house’ meaning not owned by a chain company or brewery but a cheery family.

Some pleasing ales are on tap and it has an unusually wonderful seafood menu.  We are only half an hour from the coast after all!

This inn is another very popular place in the middle of the country and not too far from Bedgebury or Bewl Water.

5. The George & Dragon at Speldhurst, cited in the 2016 Michelin Guide, is one for the game eaters. The owners of this pub use local, seasonal produce so be prepared for a changing menu.

The building is an ancient medieval hall where there is evidence of sword sharpening and vicar hanging.

Striving to reach the highest standards of quality, this is a fine find of a gastropub in a wee village. 

Best traditional rural English pubs 

Chosen for their commitment to the lively custom of supping on a pint in jocular company; dog friendly, with inglenook fire places, snugs, nooks and crannies, not to mention serving a superior pint of ale, all of these suggested pubs are at least 200 years old and some much, much older. 

1. The Halfway House at Brenchley, with its higgledy-piggledy interior, has won awards for its commitment to real ale.  It usually has 10 ales on tap with 4 changed regularly.

On the bus route 294 from Tunbridge Wells, only 30 minutes away, it is well worth a visit.  This pub does serve food and provides a very large pub garden in which to idle.

2. The address for The Elephants Head is Lamberhurst but in truth it is in the middle of nowhere. A lovely old Grade II listed Tudor house built in 1489 still with log  fires and camping nearby.

There are rambling routes that go right past its front door, which makes it an ideal stop off! Ales are from Harvey Brewery in Sussex only 30 miles away. Sometimes, you might be lucky and catch some live music.

3. The Knoxbridge Inn in Frittenden is a small, newly re-opened inn or pub on Cranbrook Road (A229), the old Roman Road running from Maidstone to Hastings.  

They offer 3 regularly changed ales and a French chef to serve your taste buds. Comfortable sofas, two real fires, good wine and board games, you could easily while away a couple of hours in the warm nooks or in the well-kept garden.

4. The Bell & Jorrocks in Frittenden is the social hub of this small village and very much involved in local traditional events.  Often putting on their own seasonal entertainment and live music, they also provide sophisticated meals. 

Tucked well away from the main roads and towns, this is quite a find. Ask the staff about the local Treacle Mines.

5. The Gun & Spitroast at Horsmonden is another local opposite the village green, heavily involved with the local community and events. 

Drenched in fascinating history, it is well worth a visit. There is no spitroast at the moment but the management are looking into re-introducing it.

6. The Crown Inn, at Groombridge, next to Groombridge Place and Enchanted Forest is one of the most charming pubs in the area and included on the CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) historic pub register for its spectacularly olden interior. 

The exterior too is very attractive being hung with classic brick-red peg tiles. They do hearty old fashioned pub grub as well as excellent ales on tap.  Originally a haunt for another set of local smugglers, The Groombridge Gang!

More Quirky Pubs in Tunbridge Wells

Apart from the above obviously!

There is the New Mount Edgcumbe on the Tunbridge Wells Common in the centre of Royal Tunbridge Wells which has a cave as its entrance and there is a real stone grotto to sit in right inside the pub! 

In the winter this is the ultimate in cosy, particularly being in the middle of the dark moor-like area in the evening.  And in the summer, it is beautiful to sit outside and soak up the view.

Dovecote Inn at Capel has rare traditional pub games like Bat & Trap and Shove Ha’penny as well as serving real ale, real cider and delicious food.  Capel is a mere 15 minutes drive away.

Pub Gardens in Tunbridge Wells

Surely one of the most idyllic ways to enjoy an afternoon in fair weather is to sit out in an English country pub garden, bask in the glorious views, the chirping birds and colourful flowers whilst relishing the local fare al fresco.

For the best pub gardens in Spring and Summer, read the 7 Brilliant Beer Gardens blog by local lady Clare Lush-Mansell. 

A Traveller’s Respite

Many pubs are next door to some fabulous attractions and sometimes a destination in themselves being very old and historically noteworthy.

Every village has at least one pub so whilst out exploring the region you are not going to go hungry or thirsty.

The pubs make an idyllic sojourn whilst taking driving or cycling tours round the scenic country lanes and ancient woodlands.

Discover your own hidden gem to create your special holiday memories and feel truly spoiled.

Many pubs are closed on Mondays and kitchens may close at 2pm and then open at 6pm until 9pm.  Do please check before making a special trip.

Take a look at our pub listings in the Search box and stay a bit longer in a well-preserved coaching inn.

Number of items:

Number of items: 83

, currently showing 1 to 20.

  1. Add Hotel du Vin & Bistro to your Itinerary

    Hotel du Vin & Bistro

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Take your choice from Afternoon Tea, Sunday Lunch, Dine Alfresco or Bistro dining at its heart warming, mouth-watering best!

    Type

    Restaurant

  2. Add The Vineyard to your Itinerary

    The Vineyard

    Lamberhurst

    English pub / bar serving locally sourced food

    Type

    British

  3. Add The Great House to your Itinerary

    The Great House

    Hawkhurst

    Pub / Bar

    Type

    Restaurant

  4. Add New Mount Edgcumbe to your Itinerary

    New Mount Edgcumbe

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Eat, drink, relax and enjoy.

    Type

    Restaurant

  5. Add The Barn to your Itinerary

    The Barn

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Recognised for serving the best steaks in town!

    Type

    Pub/Inn

  6. Add Woods Restaurant &  Bar to your Itinerary

    Woods Restaurant & Bar

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    A Warm welcome awaits you at Woods where you can enjoy excellent food and drink in a warm and friendly environment. Whether for all day breakfast or brunch, lunch, afternoon tea (… or maybe just a quiet coffee or drink whilst taking advantage of our free WIFI access…..).


    Woods is the cosiest,...

    Type

    Restaurant

  7. Add The Spa Hotel to your Itinerary

    The Spa Hotel

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Cuisine is classically based modern British, complemented by an extensive and carefully selected wine list.

    Type

    Restaurant

  8. Royal Wells Hotel

    Add Royal Wells Hotel to your Itinerary

    Royal Wells Hotel

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Bar / bistro

    Type

    British

  9. Add The Poet at Matfield to your Itinerary

    The Poet at Matfield

    Matfield

    Offering great British classics with a modern twist, and a comfortable pub with cask ales and a global wine cellar - our emphasis in on quality, taste and a fair price.

    Type

    Restaurant

  10. Add Trinity Bar & Cafe at Trinity Theatre and Arts Centre to your Itinerary

    Trinity Bar & Cafe at Trinity Theatre and Arts Centre

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Cafe/bar handy for tea coffee snacks & sandwiches

    Type

    Café

  11. The Small Holding Farm and Kitchen

    Add The Small Holding Farm and Kitchen to your Itinerary

    The Small Holding Farm and Kitchen

    Goudhurst

    Country farm and restaurant with bar

    Type

    Restaurant

  12. Add Larkins Alehouse to your Itinerary

    Larkins Alehouse

    Town Centre, Cranbrook

    Alehouse in Cranbrook

    Type

    Pub/Inn

  13. The George Hotel

    Add The George Hotel to your Itinerary

    The George Hotel

    Cranbrook

    Hotel with bar and restaurant

    Type

    Pub/Inn

  14. White Horse Inn

    Add White Horse Inn to your Itinerary

    White Horse Inn

    Cranbrook

    Pub / bar

    Type

    Pubs & Bars

  15. Green Cross Inn

    Add Green Cross Inn to your Itinerary

    Green Cross Inn

    Goudhurst

    Pub/Inn/bar serving fish & seafood

    Type

    Fish & Seafood

  16. The Milk House

    Add The Milk House to your Itinerary

    The Milk House

    Sissinghurst

    Pub / Restaurant / Inn

    Type

    Pub/Inn

  17. The Royal Oak

    Add The Royal Oak to your Itinerary

    The Royal Oak

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Pub / bar / inn serving English food

    Type

    British

  18. Add The Ragged Trousers to your Itinerary

    The Ragged Trousers

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Pub / bar

    Type

    Pub/Inn

  19. Add The Bedford to your Itinerary

    The Bedford

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    British pub / bar

    Type

    Pubs & Bars

  20. Add Sopranos Tapas Bar to your Itinerary

    Sopranos Tapas Bar

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Tapas bar

    Type

    Pubs & Bars

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