Bel & the Dragon Cookham Pub with rooms in Cookham, Berkshire

Prices from:
£95 per night

David Hancock says:

  • Timbered inn close to Thames
  • Bar oozes period charm
  • Cool dining space; open kitchen
  • Eclectic modern European menu
  • Fab secret rear terrace; fire pit
  • Stylish contemporary rooms
  • Very limited parking

Sticky FingersGood for WalkingCandlelitClose to WaterVisit a Stately Pile90 Minutes from London15 Minutes from the MotorwayPrivate Dining

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Real Time Booking Available
Overview

Bel & the Dragon Cookham Cookham, Berkshire, SL6 9SQ

The personal touch

We love this place – the original Bel & the Dragon is one of the oldest coaching inns in England and successfully combines 600 years of history with modern pub food and stylish contemporary rooms. Step inside off to find a timeless, untouched and very welcoming bar, oozing period charm with its leaded windows, brick and panelled walls, quaint low doorways, old beams and timbers, tiled and plank floors, and roaring open fires. There are plenty of cosy nooks to while away an hour or two with a pint of Pride, a gin cocktail or a decent bottle of wine, so best to arrive early to bag one of the fireside settles. Venture further and enter a spacious, atrium-style dining room with acres of wood floor, open kitchen, intimate booth seating, and a fabulous private dining area – all very 21st century. This stylish dining area blends seamlessly with the traditional bar and leads through to the rear terrace, a fantastic alfresco space for summer imbibing. The River Thames is just around the corner, where Cookham resident Kenneth Grahame was inspired to write the Wind in the Willows, and the acclaimed Stanley Spencer Gallery is short stroll down the High Street. Marlow, Henley, Cliveden (NT), Windsor are all close, and some great walking in the Chilterns too.

Sticky fingers

Children are allowed throughout the pub and there’s a family room (Mrs Baggett) with an extra bed for a child up to 8 years and a box of toys. Space has been created in the rear garden/terrace for a play area and smaller children have their own menu (with quizzes & colouring).

Muddy paws

Dogs are welcome in the bar where you’ll find a jar of biscuits on the bar and water bowls.

Alfresco

The fabulous sheltered rear terrace comes as a surprise and it a world away from the hustle and bustle of the village High Street. Enjoy summer eating and drinking at smart tables (fat candles) surrounding by flowers borders and raised planters (herbs & flowers) or bag a seat by the log-burning brazier on cooler evenings. At weekends they fire up the two Egg barbecues.

 

What’s the Damage?
9 doubles/twin £95-£105; 1 family room £125-£175

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken
  • Alfresco dining
  • Private dining
  • Disabled access to bar & dining room
  • Parking: difficult; roadside & NT pay car park a short walk away

 

Sleep

Bel & the Dragon Cookham Cookham, Berkshire, SL6 9SQ

Do not disturb

Charming, individual rooms are split between the historic inn and the newly revamped cottage beside the rear terrace. All are named after Stanley Spencer paintings; those in the inn are very cosy featuring old beams, wonky walls and floors, and a huge dose of quirk – Mrs Baggett has a tiny, head-cracking doorway. Expect home-from-home comforts with king-size beds topped with White Company linen and colourful tartan throws, soothing pastel hues, classic books on shelves, retro radiators and phones, Roberts radios, Smart TVs, and fresh, tiled bathrooms with Bramley Bathroom Products; larger bathrooms have a walk-in shower and freestanding bath. Note: front rooms face the High Street so expect some traffic noise. A nice touch is the complimentary bottle of Sipsmith Sloe Gin on the windowsill. You’ll also find tea, fresh milk and a Nespresso machine on the landing, and not to forget the decanter of malt whisky – do help yourself to a (free) nightcap. Less characterful, but equally stylish and comfortable, are the five smart rooms in the refurbished cottage; all have Nespresso machines, bright jazzy headboards, throws and cushions, and under floor heating in the bathrooms, with Florence featuring vast bathroom with deep tub and walk-in rain shower.

 

What’s the Damage?
9 doubles/twin £95-£105; 1 family room £125-£175

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken
  • Alfresco dining
  • Private dining
  • Disabled access to bar & dining room
  • Parking: difficult; roadside & NT pay car park a short walk away

 

Eat & Drink

Bel & the Dragon Cookham Cookham, Berkshire, SL6 9SQ

Mastering the menu

(Starters: £5-£11; Main Courses: £9-£26; Desserts £7; bar & lunch menu £4-£10)

Group head chef Ronnie Kimbugwe (ex-Gordon Ramsay) and the head chefs across the group deliver an eclectic choice of modern European dishes on good monthly-changing menus and there’s something for all tastes and appetites. Built around quality local and sustainable ingredients the choice includes pub classics (duck shepherd’s pie or wild mushroom macaroni cheese) and delicious meats dishes from the rotisserie (thyme-roasted guinea fowl, fragola pasta, sweetcorn, spicy chorizo) and the Josper grill (rib-eye steak, fries, béarnaise). Typically, start with poached duck egg & avocado, bacon chutney and hollandaise, follow with crab & crayfish linguini, and finish with warm gooey chocolate fondant with raspberry ripple ice cream. The short bar and lunch menu may offer rocket and parmesan risotto and devilled crab and shaved fennel salad. The bar showcases local ales, craft beers and a decent list of classic cocktails and boutique British gins, but do delve into the excellent wine list, which includes some fabulous iconic wines by the glass, thanks to the revolutionary Corovin system.

Time to eat

Breakfast: 7am – 11am (from 8am Saturday & Sunday)

Lunch: 12 noon – 3pm (Saturday brunch 10am – 3pm; Sunday 12 noon – 9pm)

Dinner: 6pm – 10pm

Time at the bar

12 noon – 11pm (10.30am – 11.30pm Saturday; 10.30am – 10.30pm Sunday)

What’s the Damage?
9 doubles/twin £95-£105; 1 family room £125-£175

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken
  • Alfresco dining
  • Private dining
  • Disabled access to bar & dining room
  • Parking: difficult; roadside & NT pay car park a short walk away

 

Food Trail

Take it back home
Tour the brewery that brewed your favourite pint, visit the shop on the farm that reared your delicious Sunday roast beef, and seek out the roadside stalls selling the local crab and samphire on the inn’s menu, the Food Trail features the local artisan producers and suppliers where you can buy to enjoy at home.

Change of scenery
Looking for a pub for lunch following a country walk, a different venue for dinner, or a good café for coffee, light lunch or afternoon tea, then the best in the area are listed below. If you find a new and exciting eatery in the area that’s worthy of a mention on the Food Trail, then please to do let us know – gabrielle@innplaces.co.uk.

1 Inn Location - Bel & the Dragon Cookham

2

Windsor Farm Shop, Datchet Road, Old Windsor SL4 2RQ

Situated on the edge of Home Park, this well-established farm shop sells a range of products from the Royal Farms on the Windsor Estate, including quality beef, pork, lamb and seasonal game from the estate shoots. Gerry at The Inn sources venison, pheasant, partridge and hare from the Estate. The farm shop also sells produce from small local specialist suppliers.

Out & About

1 Inn Location - Bel & the Dragon Cookham

Activities

2

Racing at Ascot SL5 7JX

Dating back to the 18th century and one of the best-loved racecourses in the world, Ascot is renowned for its thoroughbred racing. Royal Ascot Week in June is one of the country's key sporting and social events, attended by Her Majesty the Queen and other members of the Royal Family.

15

Higginson Park, Marlow SL7 2AE

Marlow’s main open space is a classic example of a traditional urban park. The 23-acre park has a leisure centre offering a swimming pool, gym and tennis court. Frontage to the Thames means mooring for pleasure craft and boating for hire. The 180-mile Thames Path runs along the edge of the park.

16

Harleyford Golf Club, Marlow SL7 2SP

Located about two miles southwest of Marlow, Harleyford lies beside the Thames on a country estate dating back to the 13th century. The 6,714- yard, par 72 course is both challenging and rewarding to players of all levels.

17

Salter’s Boat Trips, Marlow SL7 2AE

Salter’s is the only company with a landing stage at Marlow. The route is upstream from the town, taking in spectacular stretches of the Thames, before finishing with a cruise along the renowned royal regatta course at Henley. Look out for the Devon Belle, one of the ‘little ships’ that sailed to Dunkirk in 1940.

Shopping

5

Plume SL7 1ER

Offering the best independent fashion labels from around the world, Marlow High Street-based Plume is one of the most successful women’s wear retailers.

6

The Vintage Look RG9 2AH

Based in Henley’s Hart Street, the Vintage Look offers an eclectic mix of antiques, retro and contemporary home-wares, vintage clothes and garden items. With its beamed ceilings and original features, the shop has plenty of charm and character.

7

Marlow Antiques Centre 35 Station Road, Marlow SL7 1NW

Home to over 35 dealers, the Marlow Centre sells a wide range of antiques and collectables – you’re sure to find that special something in this huge space.

9

Anne Haimes Interiors RG9 2BG

At Anne Haimes Interiors in Henley, you’ll find furnishings, furniture, lighting, bedding, mirrors, scents and accessories.

10

Asquiths Teddy Bear Shop RG9 2BT

Asquiths established the world’s first teddy bear outlets 30 years ago and trades in a 15th-century shop in the heart of Henley. Asquiths specialises in luxury handmade English teddy bears, as well as supporting many other makes.

11

Eton Antique Bookshop SL4 6AF

Described as ‘dusty, disheveled and piled high with old prints, maps and weathered editions,’ this charming old bookshop has just about every thing for the genuine bibliophile.

12

Eton College Gift Shop SL4 6BD

Quirky, unstuffy souvenir shop with frock-coated teddy bears, crockery, tea towels and even the college’s own gents’ cologne – among many other items.

13

Country House Menswear Ltd

Gentleman’s out fitter where you can maintain your personal style and preserve your individuality. Expect exquisite collection of casual wear from Europe’s leading designers. There are branches at Marlow, Beaconsfield, Amersham, Gerrards Cross, High Wycombe and Chalfont St Peter.

Places to visit

3

Windsor Great Park, Windsor SL4 2HT

Open all year, Windsor Great Park stretches for an incredible five miles and offers vast stretches of tranquil countryside and parkland in one of the busiest parts of the country. One of the park's best-known landmarks is the Savill Garden, consisting of 35 acres of woodland, magnolias, rhododendrons and herbaceous borders.

4

Windsor Royal Shopping SL4 1RH

Splendidly located opposite Windsor Castle, in the striking Grade II-listed Victorian railway station, this is where you can visit up to 40 individual retail outlets and an array of continental-style restaurants, cafes and bars. There's also an arts and craft market open daily.

19

Rycote Chapel OX9 2PE

Historic 15th-century chapel with beautifully carved and painted woodwork and many fascinating features, including two17th-century roofed pews and a musicians’ gallery.

20

Warburg Nature Reserve RG9 6BL

This tranquil haven of woodland and grassland is where you’ll find a wide variety of wildlife and a nature trail. Tawny owls are known to breed here and the site includes more than 400 species of plants. The reserve is named after the late Doctor E F Warburg, an Oxford botanist

21

Windsor Castle SL4 1NJ

Founded as a fortress by William the Conqueror, the dominant feature of Windsor Castle is its Round Tower, built by Henry II and visible for miles around. Parts of the castle are open to the public.

22

Hughenden Manor HP14 4LA

Close to High Wycombe, Hughenden Manor became the home of Benjamin Disraeli in 1848. By the time he moved here, he was an established novelist and a distinguished politician. These days, Hughenden Manor belongs to the National Trust and is open to visitors.

23

Marlow

The town is one of the prettiest in the Thames Valley. The suspension bridge spanning the river is now the only surviving example of the work of designer William Tierney Clark. T.S. Eliot lived in Marlow between 1917 and 1920 and Percy Bysshe Shelley resided here a century earlier. Jerome K Jerome wrote part of Three Men in a Boat in the town.

24

Greys Court RG9 4PG

The original house was a fortified manor; the present gabled brick and flint house is Elizabethan. Managed by the National Trust, Greys Court , near Henley, includes a Tudor donkey-wheel well-house. The garden contains the Archbishop’s Maze, whose design is based on the theme of reconciliation.

25

River and Rowing Museum RG9 1BF

This fascinating Henley-based museum holds 20,000 items covering the sport of rowing, the story of the Thames and the classic book for children and adults, The Wind in the Willows, published in 1908. There are objects, photographs, books, ephemera and archive material.

26

Cliveden SL1 8NS

Perched on cliffs above the Thames near Maidenhead, Cliveden is an Italianate mansion built for the Duke of Sutherland in 1850-51. The house was once the home of the Astor family. The Profumo scandal, which rocked the government and sparked frenzied gossip in society circles, was played out here in the early 1960s. Cliveden is now a hotel but parts of the house are open to the public at certain times.

Walking

www.visitchilterns.co.uk
Cookham is fortunate in being surrounded by great walking country. Close by are the lovely Chilterns – grassy hills dotted with beech woods, which look glorious in the autumn – while the scenic Thames Path offers plenty of scope for linear and circular walks. Burnham Beeches, Windsor Great Park and Black Park, near Slough, are also very popular.

Cycling

www.cycle-routes-com/england/bucks
Away from busy roads and motorways, the Thames Valley is the perfect playground for cyclists. There are lots of short to medium cycle rides, as well as longer more ambitious routes, including a trail from Windsor to Oxford.

Events

www.visitthames.co.uk/events/marlow-town-regatta-and-festival
One of the region’s biggest events is the Marlow Town Regatta and Festival, which combines a traditional rowing regatta and its garden party atmosphere with a ‘family day’ of dragon boat racing and a splendid ‘tribute band’ and concert to finish. Held annually in June.

Getting there

Location, Location, Location

By Road: Pub is on Cookham High Street at the junction of the A4094 and the B4447, 2 miles north of Maidenhead

By Rail: Nearest railway station is Cookham, 0.5 miles west of the High Street

Address:

High Street, Cookham, Berkshire, SL6 9SQ

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