From Root to Table with Bel & The Dragon and Laurent-Perrier


Getting a breath of fresh country air is always a pleasure for city folk like myself. So an invitation to visit Bel & the Dragon Kingsclere, a boutique inn was right up my street. Even more so because the invitation came from Laurent-Perrier, one of my favourite champagne houses. I’ve long been a fan of their champagne, savouring it at The Dorchester, 12 Hay Hill and The Corinthia to name just a few. We arrived in Kingsclere, the picturesque village in Hampshire where Bel & the Dragon is located, on a sunny Friday afternoon.

bel_and_the_dragon_kingsclere_reviewIt’s a charming country inn with exposed timber beams giving a very cosy atmosphere.

bel_and_the_dragon_kingsclere_hampshireFellow foodies Angie, Laura, Lauren and I checked into our rooms, which continued the comfy theme. My room overlooking the main street was bright and airy with two large windows.

bel_and_the_dragon_kingsclere_suzeThere was a Roberts radio, a good selection of vintage paperbacks and even some Sipsmith gin!

bel_and_the_dragon_hampshireI loved the pink throw and cushions on the bed, if only all hotels had such attractive decorative touches!

bel_and_the_dragon_bedroomThe bathroom had a fabulous roll-top bath and aromatic Bramley toiletries.

bel_and_the_dragon_roomWe toasted the Indian Summer with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé.

laurent_perrier_cuvee_roseIts delicate bouquet was the perfect accompaniment for the tasty platters of charcuterie, crab terrine and mackerel paté.

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The pizza is a local favourite, prepared in the pretty courtyard’s wood-fired oven.

bel_and_the_dragon_kingsclere_pizza
There are actually 7 Bel & the Dragon inns spread over the South of England. Co-owners Joel Cadbury and Ollie Vigors set out to create unique properties that have stylish interior design and great food – they’ve certainly succeeded.

bel_and_the_dragon_dining_roomAfter lunch we took a walk around Watership Down, the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty iimmortalized by Richard Adams in his book, subsequently made into the iconic film.

wayfarers_walk_hampshireI saw the film years ago and cried my eyes out but didn’t realize that it was a real place. The bunnies of the book and film were nowhere to be seen but I’m assured that normally they’re in abundance 😉

Next came a real highlight – a visit to Kingsclere Park House Stables with Anna Lisa and Andrew Balding. Sports run in his family as his sister Clare is the President of the Kingsclere Racing Club. Andrew is a talented horse trainer and the Queen and foreign royalty are just some of those who have entrusted their horses to him.

kingsclere_horse_trainingAnd that’s not just for the stabling, they also count on him to select the best horse to run on the day, depending on their current form.

kingsclere_stablesIt was a pleasure to see the horses, some of whom are housed in the original Victorian stable blocks.

kingsclere_stable_blockWe also admired the statue of Mill Reef, a multiple prize-winning horse, as well as the superb horse training facilities, including an equine swimming pool. Alessandra and Andrew then kindly invited us for tea in their house. With children going in and out and awards dotted around, the atmosphere was charming.

mill_reef_statueHaving had a privileged insight into the world of horse training, we returned to Bel and the Dragon for a chilled glass of Laurent-Perrier Brut before dinner. Joining us in the bar was Ronnie Kimbugwe, group head chef for the Bel and the Dragon group. After working at Claridges, he’s brought his wealth of experience to oversee all of the Bel and the Dragon properties. He’s a real character with a sense of fun but a real eye for detail. Ronnie has introduced the concept of Root To Table, where much of the produce used is sourced locally, and many vegetables are grown in the garden.

bel_and_the_dragon_ronnieIt’s rare that every course of a meal is perfect but this was completely faultless. Our crab terrine starter was enlivened with apple pieces and worked perfectly with the Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut champagne. This is a good choice for anyone watching their waistline but who doesn’t want to miss out on taste, thanks to the zero-dosage, i.e. no added sugar.

bel_and_the_dragon_gourmet_getawayOur main course of venison actually came from Kingsclere itself. Ronnie has a close relationship with local suppliers so can source some really seasonal ingredients. It was served with crispy roast potatoes and fresh homemade coleslaw.

bel_and_the_dragon_dinner_reviewI have to admit that I helped myself not to seconds but to thirds, this dish was so good! We finished with an apple tarte tatin, one of my favourite dishes.

bel_and_the_dragon_foodBel and Dragon Kingsclere is known for its coffee martinis, and although I’m not a coffee fan, I had a little taste before switching back to Laurent-Perrier. Each Bel and Dragon has its own cocktail specialty.

bel_and_the_dragon_martinisWe ended our evening in the cosy upstairs games room, playing Scrabble.

bel_and_the_dragon_games_roomI slept like a baby and woke up feeling refreshed and vowing to return with Paul. Bel & the Dragon and Laurent-Perrier are offering a perfect gourmet getaway, with an overnight stay, three-course dinner, a glass of Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé & breakfast the following morning – all for £160 for two. You can even add a a bottle of Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé in your room for an additional £63. Thanks to Bel & the Dragon and Laurent-Perrier for a truly sparkling stay!

Bel & the Dragon, Swan Street, Kingsclere, Newbury, Hampshire RG20 5PP

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  • Such a fun way to spend a weekend! The food was amazing and it was great to meet Ronnie.

  • Oh wow I didn’t know where Watership Down was inspired but it looks like a very beautiful spot! I remember crying at the film too, such a sad film!

  • These photos really make me want to revisit England! What a pleasant experience.

    • It would be lovely to catch up when you’re next over here, Anouk – have a great weekend!

      • Great, will let you know when I’m in London next. Have a good one too!

  • This seems like the perfect place to get away from the big city and relax for a week-end. I love fancy inns like this. Your pictures are so beautiful, Suze. No need to mention how much I envy you for being invited to all these posh places.

    • It was a real treat, and we were lucky with the weather so the countryside was at its finest in the photos!

  • Sophie

    Ah gosh I feel like I’m almost there too. Such wonderful pictures – it looks like a dream!
    Sophie
    x

  • Wow, Suze, everything looks exquisite. I love the vintage radio. I think my nan still has her old one in the attic. The pictures are drool worthy, as always! xx /Madison 🙂
    http://fashiontalesblog.com

    • Maybe you should see if you can get the radio repaired and going again – I bet your Gran would love it!

  • Wow what a beautiful place! I love cozy country places like that. Looks like it was a fun getaway 🙂

    http://www.leftbanked.com

  • I’m not sure which part of this post I love the most – the decor, the horses (I got married at the Newmarket Jockey Club Rooms!) or the exquisite champagne – heaven!

    Laura xx | Loved By Laura

  • I’m a big fan of coffee martinis! It is a tough choice though, between that and champagne! Looks like you had a lovely time.

    Ash | http://www.liakadatravel.com

    • I’m definitely more of a champagne fan – coffee seems to give me palpitations 😉

  • Yet another treat for the eyes! This experience seems luxurious, yet casual – always a fab combination. Mm, the venison looks delicious and surely there can be no better way to end the night than playing scrabble?! 🙂

    Gabrielle | A Glass Of Ice x

    • Scrabble is always great fun, I’m always impressed with the long words that fellow players manage to come up with!

  • This is so beautiful and cozy! I would love to stay here! The rooms are darling

    http://leftbankgirl.blogspot.com

  • It looks like you had an excellent time there! I love those cushions on the bed, so cute and colorful!

  • Now this is a girl’s retreat to swoon over!

  • How beautiful! The horses are so pretty, and all the food looks amazing.

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

  • Ellese Launer

    This looks incredible and so delicious!! I just got really hungry lol. Xo, Ellese

    Rock.Paper.Glam.

  • That food looks so amazing
    xo
    http://www.laurajaneatelier.com

  • Ellie Adams

    So in love with the hotel, luxurious but ultimately so cosy and homely, perfect! The champagne obviously looks very appealing too 🙂

    Elle
    http://www.theellenextdoor.com
    xx

  • From root to table? That’s absolutely fantastic. Freshness no doubt.
    How gorgeous is this hotel! Keep wanderlusting. I love the places I get to go to through your posts.

  • What a fantastic deal!! I’ve just looked up their other locations as it would make the perfect gift for relatives birthdays that are coming up. That roll-top bath is fabulous – I hope you got chance to soak in it!

    • They really do have some lovely locations and I realized afterwards that we’d had lunch in their Windsor pub – it’s just opposite the castle

  • I love the decorative pillows and throw, too, they’re beautiful and add such a nice touch to the decor! You know, I really feel like hopping on the next flight to London and just tag along with you wherever you go because where you are is where the great food and wine is also, haha. I’ll just tell them all, I’m with her! Thanks so much for sharing, beauty, and I hope you’re having the best start to your week so far!

    XO,

    Jalisa
    http://www.thestylecontour.com

    • Ooh do let me know if you come over, Jalisa – I’d love to meet up. I’m actually showing a writer from Germany tomorrow so it’s always a pleasure

  • This place is so quaint and pretty- the decor, the food-everything! The champagne looks great too. I remember Watership Down, it was sooo sad, I didn’t know it was a real place either

    Rachel xx
    http://www.thedailyluxe.net

    • It was very quaint, I loved the oak beams yet it was surprisingly light and airy too

  • ♫ Alison M ♪

    Anything with a dragon in the name has got to be good. It looks like a really lovely place, loving the bed covers.

  • This looks like such a charming and cozy place. Your pictures are amazing, as usual :))

  • Such a lovely set of pictures. It really looks like lovely place, we may have to add it to our to-do list!

    ISA Professional

  • This looks like so much fun! What a beautiful hotel and you can’t go wrong with Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé 😉

    Laura xo
    http://www.shehearts.net