The Pack Saddle, Mapledurham, Oxon
A recent addition to Muddy’s Little Black Book, The Pack Saddle on the Berks border has had a proper glow up in the form of a new head chef and lip-smacking locally-sourced menu to match (think elevated British dishes and meat and fish cooked on an open fire pit). The scoff and quaff might be sophisticated, but this is still an unpretentious family pub at heart, and the roaring fire is the perfect place to curl up on cooler evenings.
The Long Dog, Waddesdon, Bucks
Following a swish new refurb this summer, The Long Dog is really hitting its stride – and the locals agree. The quirky interiors and dark panelling make this a surefire hit for the winter, and being just a stone’s throw from Waddesdon Manor mean it’s the ideal post-Christmas market haunt. Read our Muddy review here.
The Mason Arms at Artist Residence, South Leigh, Oxon
The quiet, unassuming village of South Leigh, close to Witney in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds, is the lucky recipient of one of the coolest boutique hotels in the county – Artist Residence. The downstairs is a pub, The Mason’s Arms, is Instagram catnip with a traditional/modern mash up of beautiful curved wood settles, heavy beams, fireplaces and William Morris wallpaper teamed with neon and modern art and humour. It’s like the punk younger sister of Soho Farmhouse. Read the Muddy review here.
The Falkland Arms, Great Tew, Oxon
This thatched roof, Cotswold stone beauty is so quaint feels like it’s been lifted straight out of a Richard Curtis movie. It may be within staggering distance of bougie Soho Farmhouse, but The Falkland Arms has a strong local vibe and mega cosy decor to boot – we love the various hanging mugs and tankards taking pride of place on the low beamed ceiling. Expect pub classics on the menu and a dog-friendly ethos.
The Kings Head, Little Marlow, Bucks
Dark beams, roaring fires and leather banquettes galore, this gastropub recently scooped a Tripadvisor Traveler’s Award 2021 – and we can see why. It’s in a pretty position, in lovely walking country, and has that unmistakeable feel of a well-loved local despite being part of a chain. Pint-and-pub style food and a welcome for your dog.
The Bear Inn, Oxford
It might be a Fuller’s, but this city centre institution has character in spades. A hidden gem for locals since 1242 (and hidden is certainly the word – it’s tucked away in an unassuming location just off the high street), The Bear is famous for its kitsch collection of cut off ties from clubs around the county. You’ll have to be quick if you want to see it though, as the pub only seats two dozen inside.
The Royal Oak, Bovingdon Green, Bucks
A Muddy Awards Winner for Best Destination Pub 2021, The Royal Oak is a no-brainer for a cosy pub day. Just a five-minute drive from Marlow, this countryside hotspot is a respite for families and foodies – the seasonal, ever-changing menu is definitely worth a peruse, as its won the pub the Buckinghamshire Dining Pub of the Year award from The Good Pub Guide for eight consecutive years.
The Crown, Woodstock, Oxon
If low-ceilinged rooms with patterned carpets and leather at every turn leave you feeling more claustrophobic than cosy, you’ll love the relaxed, scandi-meets-cottage feel of this stylish gastro-inn in the centre of Woodstock. There’s a light-filled orangerie area that’s perfect for a coffee or a light lunch, but we’re fans of the more chilled-out pubby section with lovely log fires, wide bar and great food. The bonus? There are five super chic en-suites with Cowshed toiletries, Apple TVs and Egyptian cotton sheets if you don’t fancy the walk home.
The Bell, Aston Clinton, Bucks
More glamorous than your standard country boozer, The Bell is a sleek pub and restaurant slap bang in the centre of the pretty village of Aston Clinton. If you can drag yourself away from one of the many log fires, you’re perfectly situated to explore the Chiltern Hills before returning to collapse in one of the 11 hotel rooms.
The Killingworth Castle, Wootton, Oxon
It might be cosier than a dormouse wearing a beanie hat, but the biggest draw of The Killingworth Castle is undoubtedly its foodie accolades. It boasts 2 AA Rosettes, recently won a Tripadvisor Travellers Choice Award 2021, and has previously been awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand and an AA Rosette for culinary excellence. Extra brownie points are awarded for being dog-friendly and offering discounted tickets to nearby Blenheim Palace.
The Swan Inn, Denham
Hidden away in the picture postcard village of Denham in South Bucks, this pub hits the sweet spot of excellent food and local clientele. There’s a bar for perching on, fireplaces and a whole load of bonhomie. Plus, dogs are welcomed with open arms, and their sun trap garden is worth having on your list for when the nice weather makes a reappearance.
The Royal Standard of England, Forty Green, Bucks
It doesn’t get much cosier than the 900-year-old Royal Standard in Forty Green near Beaconsfield. Replete with gnarled beams, log fires and taxidermy, this destination pub draws in visitors for miles around – but luckily there are plenty of nooks and crannies to hide in. Pack your elasticated waist trousers if you’re stopping for lunch, as the portions are huge.
Jacob’s Inn, Wolvercote, Oxon
Sitting at the top of Oxford’s Port Meadow, this stylish, buzzing pub is ideal for families, friends or walkers. Its warm stone and log fires are well suited to this time of year – even its recently zhushed up outdoor seating area has had a cosy makeover, velvet Chesterfields and all. Like its sister eateries in Bicester, Woodstock and Headington, the food is locally sourced and crowd-pleasing.