Hotel Review: The Greyhound on The Test, Stockbridge in Hampshire
Nestled in the heart of The Test Valley, flanked between the cathedral cities of Winchester and Salisbury you will find the town of Stockbridge. Steeped in history, Stockbridge is a reminder of a bygone era as its High Street remains as broad as the days when it was a popular route for livestock drovers. Today, peppered with independent boutiques, galleries and eateries, a trip to Stockbridge is a truly lovely experience. The jewel in the High Street crown is easily “The Greyhound on The Test”. A former 15th Century coaching inn on the banks of this world famous fly-fishing river, and my home for the weekend.
On arrival, I duck through the front door and am met with a warm welcome from Kelly who is Front of House. She swiftly gathers up my bags and leads me through The Greyhound labyrinth and up to the accommodation. The Greyhound has seven rooms in total and two luxury cottages, all stylishly presented and well appointed. I stayed in spacious Room 7 which is decorated in rich navy with sumptuous velvets and tweeds. Well-chosen local art is displayed on the walls and the bathroom is well appointed and dressed with Noble Isle luxury cosmetics. Guests benefit from a number of extra treats, namely complimentary chocolate and glossy magazines. There is also an honesty bar based on the landing for those who fancy a nightcap or midnight snack. The accommodation seamlessly combines a boutique stay with visiting good friends, I felt at home immediately, but also like I was being spoilt rotten.
At 6pm I head to the bar for a pre-dinner drink. The Greyhound has two bar areas and I opt for the busiest which is full of thirsty locals and a selection of well-behaved dogs. Sitting by the wood burner enjoying an aperitif (Bombay Sapphire from the distillery 15 miles away) I meet another guest who had recently arrived from France for a long weekend with his wife. A Keen sportsman, he’s here for the shooting and will return in the spring to fish. In 2015 The Greyhound won the award for the “Best Sporting Pub” and my new friend assured me he wouldn’t entertain staying anywhere else. As we chat, we are joined by the owner Lucy. Warm and vivacious, she welcomes us both to The Greyhound family.
The dining rooms are simple with bare wood and crisp white linens. The pallet is neutral, calm and well accessorised- all designed by co-owner Alex who is a professional interior designer. The menu offers a variety of dishes with a selection suitable for vegans to game lovers. Eating at The Greyhound is all about the experience, rich flavours to be enjoyed and shared leisurely. The menu lists a number of sharing plates for this very reason. Head Chef Chris Heather currently holds two AA rosettes and has recently won a local award for the best Hampshire menu. As a welcome, he sends across an amuse bouche of buffalo carpaccio, ahead of our starters. The buffalo is farmed in a village called Broughton, just a few miles away and was “melt-in-the-mouth” delicious.
To start my guest and I share half a dozen fresh oysters and a dish of monkfish, scallop with fennel. Perfectly cooked and full of flavour, starters were complimented with a zesty Pouilly Fume. For the main course, I select one of the two sharing dishes, a fantastic rare Cote de Beouf with seasonal vegetables and thrice cooked chips. My main selection was the hardest decision as the other sharing dish was another of my favourites, a whole rack of lamb. Kelly recommended a non-vintage Pinot Noir which counterbalanced the richness of the meat perfectly. A traditional pear crumble and homemade chocolate truffles concluded this feast, before making the journey back to the comfort of Room 7.
Breakfast was extremely relaxed and served from 9am as it was the weekend. The dresser in the dining room offered a continental selection, including sourdough, cinnamon buns and banana bread from The Hoxton Bakehouse in Southampton. Orange juice was freshly squeezed and coffee perfectly brewed. From the hot selection, I opted for poached eggs that arrived as perfect as golf balls with Test-caught smoked trout. The River Test runs through the centre of Stockbridge and in fine weather the brown trout can be seen swimming against the current. I don’t think I could have found a more local or authentic dish to enjoy as I prepare to check-out.
In February, The Greyhound undertakes a refurbishment. Lucy advised me that some bathrooms needed updating and that Alex is keen to work his design magic once again with a fresh look. This has certainly become a special place for me and I look forward to returning later in 2017.
Address: 31 High St, Stockbridge SO20 6EY / 01264 810833 / thegreyhoundonthetest.co.uk