Hotel Review: The White Horse, Dorking in Surrey
If you’re looking for a stylish hotel in a building full of history and charm, in the middle of an attractive town on the doorstep of some of the South East’s most beautiful countryside; then The White Horse in Dorking is the perfect place for you.
The coaching inn dates back to the 13th century and, with almost 300 years of experience welcoming guests, The White Horse is full to the beams with fascinating history and enchanting tales. I’m pleased to say that while the building boasts hundreds of years of history, the décor is comfortably set in the modern day. The hotel recently underwent a tasteful £4m renovation to give the rooms, restaurant, bar and lounge a trendy finish.
With the Surrey Hills on your doorstep – Box Hill just a stone’s throw away and Denbies Vineyard practically next door – guests have plenty to do during their stay at The White Horse. And, with countryside-exploring guests in mind, The White Horse welcomes doggy guests to accompany their masters.
We arrived late on a cold, wintry Friday evening so stepping inside the warm, fire-lit lounge was a cosy retreat from the brisk night air outside. We were lucky enough to have a reserved parking space inside the hotel’s small, courtyard car park but I’d recommend guests plan their parking beforehand as spaces are limited.
We were shown to our room before heading straight down into the lounge to secure a fire-side spot to sip our drinks. It was a real treat for Sammy, our dog, to join us for our night away and he soon curled up in front of the roaring flames to drift off into a deep sleep. Despite the comfort and warmth of the cosy lounge the majority of our evening was spent in the hotel’s chic new restaurant, The Dozen.
The gastropub-type menu offers guests a variety of choices from pub grub classics like sausage and mash to more modern cuisine like lobster macaroni cheese. I opted for the fried mac n cheese balls to start followed by fish and chips. The deep fat fried balls of cheesy macaroni were classic comfort food; warming and packed full of flavour – just what I needed on this cold, December night.
The fish was wrapped in a tasty, crunchy batter while the chips were light and fluffy. Presentation was typical of a pub moving into the contemporary age with dishes served on wooden boards and in metal buckets. But this slightly overdone presentation did not overshadow the food which was delicious and well-priced.
The equestrian inspiration is visible throughout the building from the tweed hacking waistcoats and jodhpur boots that make up the staff uniforms to the bar stools made from authentic riding saddles. The aroma of leather and wood finishes conjure images and imaginations of a saloon bar. But the drinks menu is a perfect example of contemporary tastes with refreshing cocktails and a plethora of flavoursome gins to choose from.
The Dickensian touches (the hotel is most famous for hosting Charles Dickens in the 19th century) run throughout the hotel from classic reads guest can peruse to the guest’s newsletter styled like a newspaper called Pickwick’s Paper. The aforementioned cocktails take inspiration from Dickens’ most famous writings – Fagin’s Martini and A Tale of Two Cities – while other drinks are inspired by the local area. The wine list is also a reminder of your location with choices from the town’s own vineyard, Denbies, and Albury Estate just eight miles away.
The Grade II listed hotel is home to 56 bedrooms, all of which have been updated and redecorated by Bespoke Hotels. Designers have been bold with strong colours and contemporary finishes to fit around the hotel’s period features and traditional design. It has tastefully transformed the quaint and antiquated building into a fashionable and funky hotel.
Our decadent suite boasted a huge super-king bed with lavish covers and fluffy pillows. Gold, velvet armchairs flanked the sash windows, with views out onto the high street below, and the huge traditional bathroom featured a classic, roll-top bath. Historic artwork adorns the vibrant walls and reminds you of the history of the room and all its guests before you. We retired to bed early and enjoyed watching a film before drifting off to sleep.
The following morning we found ourselves back in The Dozen for breakfast. The menu is one of the best I’ve seen with each dish simple and refreshing but extremely tempting. I opted for the fluffy, filling buttermilk pancakes with fresh berry compote and homemade granola while my husband decided on the chilli avocado on toast with poached eggs. Both were colourful, fresh and appetizing.
With a good, wholesome breakfast in our stomachs we decided to venture off into the renowned countryside surrounding the picturesque town of Dorking. The sun was shining and the cold, crisp morning air was refreshing as we embarked on a dog walk. The perfect way to start a weekend away in the Surrey Hills. And The White Horse offers the perfect accommodation for such a break.
A standard double room at The White Horse starts from £50 per night.
Address: The White Horse, High St, Dorking RH4 1BE
Phone: 01306 881138