The King John Inn in Tollard Royal, Wiltshire, is dog-friendly, near to top quality game shooting like Ashcombe and provides top-of-the-range hospitality.
The King John Inn in Tollard Royal, Wiltshire, is a 156-year-old hotel that was saved from dereliction by current owners Alexander and Gretchen Boon in 2008. They have done a fine job in restoring this eight-bedroom bolt-hole into the kind of place where shooting folk can feel comfortable making merry. We saw a number of shooters (you can’t miss us, can you?) who’d just finished a day’s play, and all were keen to unladen themselves of their things and settle in. Some may well have been staying in the smart cottage across the driveway.
At dinner, our menus arrived on brown paper and there were so many seductive words on the page – the ingredients in chef Simon Trepass’s kitchen invariably come from somewhere close by – I had to be called to heel. We ate Portland crab and rump steak and chips with salad and a béarnaise sauce, and I’d happily drive down to the restaurant with you right now to have them again. The chips could have been a little fatter but the various “oohs” and “corrs” from other tables suggested we weren’t the only ones being spoiled by the bill of fare.
There was no real rush to head off to bed so we people-watched for a while. Scanning the walls one can see why the hotel is so keen to welcome shooting parties through its doors during the winter; various large fieldsports prints and paintings cover every vertical surface but they aren’t so clustered that it’s rammed down your throat.
On the way to our room we studied a huge map of old London, and it was fun to try and work out where so many of the capital’s famous landmarks are today, and sigh at the loss of so many since the map was printed.
Cost: From £140
Shoots nearby: There are some real crackers in the area, take your pick from the likes of Ashcombe, Ashmore, Rushmore, Prescombe and Iwerne Minster for starters
Scores for the King John Inn
Catering: When food is locally sourced and prepared with imagination it will always push this reviewer’s buttons. The hotel has its own wine shop but if, like us, you were too late to pop in then hop on to the website. 9/10
Accommodation: There were one or two housekeeping issues that are easily fixed, less so the paper-thin bedroom walls. 7/10
Atmosphere: It was standing room only by the time we were eating dinner and everyone seemed to be having a thoroughly good time. 8/10
Service: The friendly and courteous staff are a credit to their employers. 9/10
Suitability for shooters: The close proximity to high quality shoots makes this an excellent base for your team. Dogs are welcome and there is a gun safe on site too. The hotel knows what shooters like, so all you have to do is ask. 9/10