The Bell Inn Pub with rooms in Horndon-on-the-Hill, Essex

Prices from:
£70 per night

David Hancock says:

  • Legendary 15th-century Essex inn
  • Vereker family; owners for 80 years
  • Proper inn with cracking bar
  • Impressive wines & real ales
  • On-trend menus; delicious food
  • Traditional suites above the inn
  • Contemporary rooms at High House

Sticky FingersMuddy PawsCandlelitClose to Water90 Minutes from London15 Minutes from the Motorway

Call this inn 01375 309611

Real Time Booking Available

The Bell Inn Horndon-on-the-Hill, Essex, SS17 8LD

The personal touch

Family-run for some 80 years, this 600-year-old coaching inn is a legend in these parts – its reputation for good food and accommodation maintained over many years. An unprepossessing facade gives way to a historic beamed interior, full of exposed timbers and panelling, cushioned oak settles, flagstones, rug-strewn wooden floors and lots of foundry memorabilia to go with the pub name. That it works well on all levels is a tribute to Christine and John Vereker, especially as they manage to keep in sight the Bell’s origins as a pub, offering real ales in an informal chatty drinkers bar warmed by a real fire. Food is delicious and daily menus successfully combine pub classics with more innovative modern British dishes. Don’t forget The Ostlers, a buzzy bistro set in the lovely grounds of High House up the road, serving a popular grill-style menu and cocktails on Friday’s and through the weekend.

Sticky fingers

Children are welcome throughout the pub (smaller portions are available) and overnight in the Bonson suite above the pub, the Hideaway Suite at High House or The Stable, which have extra beds for kids (£20 per child), and most rooms can accommodate a cot (£10).

Muddy paws

In the pub, dogs are allowed in the bar area but not in the restaurant, and they are welcome overnight in some of the bedrooms (£15 per night per dog)


Outside seating fills the rear courtyard, which is covered with two giant umbrellas and festooned with colourful pots and hanging baskets. The Ostlers, just up the road, has sliding doors that open out onto the terrace and gardens.

What’s on?

Three meeting rooms of varying sizes (seating 6-60 people) are perfect for business and social events and can be set up for board meetings, family gatherings and larger private parties. There are regular gourmet and wine evenings at The Ostlers.

What’s the Damage?

18 twin/doubles; 8 suites £70 – £145 (includes Continental breakfast)

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken
  • Private dining facilities
  • Alfresco dining
  • Disabled access to bar, restaurant & some bedrooms
  • Parking

Waitrose Good Food Guide; Sunday Times Cool Hotel Guide; The Times top 30 places to eat, drink & stay


The Bell Inn Horndon-on-the-Hill, Essex, SS17 8LD

Do not disturb

Stylish bedrooms are divided between the historic inn and High House, a beautifully refurbished Georgian property, a few steps down the road. All are thoughtfully equipped and beautifully furnished, none more so than the four atmospheric suites at the inn, which are named after famous mistresses, where exposed beams and timbers complement antique beds, comfortable sofas and smart bathrooms. At High House (with its own restaurant, ‘The Ostlers’, and where breakfast is served) there are some grand contemporary suites boasting feature bathrooms with walk-in showers and double-ended baths, and lovely views over the garden towards the River Thames. Smaller rooms are equally fresh and modern and make the most of the character of the Georgian building.

Creature comforts

Fresh coffee, homemade biscuits


Big freeview TVs; free wi-fi

What’s for Breakfast?

Continental breakfast buffet (included in overnight price; cooked breakfast extra); toasted muffin with poached egg & hollandaise; omelette with smoked bacon, mushrooms or tomatoes; Loch Fyne salmon, scrambled eggs & herb salad; full Essex breakfast

What’s the Damage?

18 twin/doubles; 8 suites £70 – £145 (includes Continental breakfast)

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken
  • Private dining facilities
  • Alfresco dining
  • Disabled access to bar, restaurant & some bedrooms
  • Parking

Waitrose Good Food Guide; Sunday Times Cool Hotel Guide; The Times top 30 places to eat, drink & stay

Eat & Drink

The Bell Inn Horndon-on-the-Hill, Essex, SS17 8LD

Mastering the menu

If you fail to get a reservation in the restaurant, don’t panic. The same menu is served at unbookable tables in the bar – you just need to get there early to secure one or else they take your name and you wait, propping up the bar, until a table is free. It’s no hardship and worth the wait – the daily changing menu lists some dazzling modern pub food prepared by Stephen Treadwell, who sources seasonal produce from local suppliers, and makes good use of the herbs and vegetables from the kitchen garden at High House. Dishes are imaginative and well executed with the emphasis on big and bold flavours. A starter of quail and foie gras ballotine with mustard mayonnaise, tarragon jus and herb salad would sit well on any restaurant menu, while for mains there’s local venison escalope, with carrot purée, venison cottage pie and blackberry jus, or sea bass fillets on crushed new potatoes with sauté chard and cockle & crayfish chowder. Desserts such as caramelised vanilla crème brûlée with baked apple and cinnamon ice cream are exemplary, but the cheeseboard is worth pursuing if you want to continue exploring the very good wine list.

On the menu

(Starters: £4.95-£7.95; Main Courses: £11.95-£29.95; Desserts £6.10-£9.95)

Venison & partridge croquette, pear & saffron chutney, hollandaise; seared scallops, brown crab mayonnaise, dried anchovy powder & chicory; purple sprouting broccoli tart, goat’s cheese, truffle oil, fried duck egg

Marinated pork fillet, chorizo mayonnaise, sauté chorizo, chickpeas, oyster mushrooms, chicken velouté; pigeon breast, crispy black pudding, caramelised onions, jus

Poached rhubarb, Italian meringue, lemon cud, yoghurt sorbet; dark chocolate & vanilla cheesecake, pistachio & hazelnut cream

Bar menu


Confit beef cottage pie, parmesan mash; pork & leek sausages, caramelised onions, cream potato; minute steak, fried duck egg, jus; lunchtime sandwiches

Sunday Roasts


Roast sirloin of English beef with horseradish and Yorkshire pudding; slow roasted pork loin with apple puree, sage stuffing and mustard gravy; pot-roasted corn fed chicken breast with creamed leeks and chicken gravy

Time to eat

Breakfast: 6.45am – 9am (8.30am – 10am weekends)

Lunch: 12 noon – 1.45pm (2.30pm Sunday)

Dinner: 6.30pm – 9.45pm (from 6pm Saturday; from 7pm Sunday)

Ostlers Bar & Restaurant: 6.30pm – 9.30pm Friday & Saturday; 1pm – 3.45pm Sunday

Local, local, local

Meat – Priors Hall Farm, Great Dunmow (

Seafood – Marrfish, Bishops Stortford (

Beer – Crouch Vale Brewery, South Woodham Ferrers (

Behind the bar

Expect an impressive range of drinks at the bar. On handpump you’ll find Greene King IPA, Sharps Doom Bar and a guest ale, probably a brew from the local Crouch Vale Brewery. Shelves groan with gin, vodka and spirit bottles and the excellent 120-strong wine list has been lovingly curated by manager and Master Sommelier Joanne. It offers 20 by the glass and some interesting bottles of Burgundy and Bordeaux. Unusually, the wine list offers great value ‘take home’ prices. If you fancy an Espresso Martini cocktail, then stroll up to buzzy Ostlers Bar, which opens of a Friday or Saturday evening, and Sunday lunchtime.

Time at the bar

11am – 11pm (12 noon – 10.30pm Sunday)

What’s the Damage?

18 twin/doubles; 8 suites £70 – £145 (includes Continental breakfast)

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken
  • Private dining facilities
  • Alfresco dining
  • Disabled access to bar, restaurant & some bedrooms
  • Parking

Waitrose Good Food Guide; Sunday Times Cool Hotel Guide; The Times top 30 places to eat, drink & stay

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 –

1 Inn Location - The Bell Inn


Priors Hall Farm, Lindsell, Great Dunmow CM6 3QR

The Menhenick family rear pigs housed in in homegrown straw yards and their feed is made from wheat and barley grown on the farm. The high quality park can be purchased from the farm shops, along with beef, lamb and chicken reared at nearly farms in Essex and Suffolk.


Crouch Vale Brewery South Woodham Ferrers CM3 5ZA

Established in 1981, this thriving micro-brewery supplies the Bell Inn with its award-winning beers. You can visit the shop on weekdays to buy beers to take home, and you can join a tour of the brewery.


The Hoop, High Street, Stock CM4 9BD

Smartened up 15th-century weather boarded village pub, formerly weaver’s cottages, with handsome brick fireplaces and original timbers in the traditional bar, and an elegant beamed restaurant (Oak Room – bookings only) upstairs. Expect, fresh, home-cooked food – good pub classics served in the bar.


New Hall Vineyard, Purleigh, Chelmsford, Essex CM3 6PN

Established in 1969, this 164-acre vineyard is one of the oldest and largest in the country. The grape vines have been carefully selected over the years from Europe, from which New Hall produce a range of different wines each year. Taste award-winning wines, including Ruby Royale, a full-bodied red, or Ortega, a dessert wine, and of course take some home with you.


The Anchor Riverside Pub & Restaurant, Ferry Road, Hullsbridge SS5 6ND

Spruced up pub-restaurant enjoying a superb riverside setting offering a big, contemporary bar (good choice of beers) and a conservatory restaurant and alfresco terrace and garden that make the most of the location. Expect good food and seasonal menus that celebrate the county’s natural later of great produce.

Out & About

1 Inn Location - The Bell Inn



Castle Park, Colchester CO1 1UG

This is the perfect setting for just about anything. There are shows, festivals and concerts, but many of its annual 1 million visitors also like to picnic among a dazzling backdrop of flowers and trees, play family games or take a leisurely stroll.


Orsett Golf Club RM16 3DR

This open championship heathland course was designed in 1929. Visitors are welcome to the 18-hole course on a sand and gravel base and those who enjoy a serious golfing challenge will not be disappointed thanks to the keen winds that blow in from the Thames estuary.


Kite Surfing East Beach, Shoeburyness, Southend-on-Sea SS3 9SP

Essex is very proud of their Blue Flag beaches along seven miles of stunning shoreline, where you can enjoy the simple pleasures of building sand castles or bird watching. But if you want to go up a gear or two, the BSKA approved Essex Kite Surf School run courses - everything from one-to-one tuition for beginners to those of you who are higher flyers.


Epping Ongar Railway Ongar Station, High Street, Ongar, Essex CM5 9BN

What better way to explore and enjoy the beautiful Essex countryside than on a slow train, over viaducts, through leafy woodlands, open farmland and alongside river valleys. The journey through Epping Forest is delightful, and the train passes through several pretty villages, where you can see the once defunct but now restored station buildings and signal boxes.



Battlesbridge Antiques and Craft Centre SS11 7RF

An incredible 80 dealers can be found housed at Battlesbridge, midway between Chelmsford and Southend, in a variety of old buildings and courtyards. Expect antiques, collectables, crafts, architectural items, garden ornaments, fireplaces and reproductions.


Lauren Cole, Billericay CM12 9BS

This womens-wear boutique prides itself on stocking all the brands and labels its customers love, while at the same time working with local and new wave designers.


Bella Flowers, Corringham SS17 7LU

Independent award-winning flower shop based in Corringham, near Stanford-le-Hope, Bella Flowers offers fresh flowers, stunning floral designs and personalized messages for all occasions.


Old Leigh Studios SS9 2EP

A fascinating corner of Essex, this former port is just the place to browse and learn about its rich history and heritage. At the Lynn Tait Gallery shop, you’ll find an excellent selection of original gifts, souvenirs and collectables, including paintings, greeting cards and early photographs from the turn of the century.


Katie Vale Designs, Barleylands Craft Village, Billericay CM11 2UD

This is just the place to go for the perfect headwear for that special occasion. Whether you require a striking hat for a day at the races or a stunning bridal veil, Katie Vale Designs can help. Katie herself trained with Rose Cory, milliner by royal appointment to the Queen Mother.

Places to visit


Tilbury Fort RM18 7NR

Situated on the north bank of the Thames and originally constructed by Henry VIII to protect London against attack from France, Tilbury Fort is now managed by English Heritage and includes the only surviving early-18th-century gunpowder magazines in Britain.


Hyde Hall, Chelmsford CM3 8ET

Located in Chelmsford, Hyde Hall is a spectacular garden run by the Royal Horticultural Society. Here, you’ll find superb views, a lake, a bird hide and a spring garden.


Hadleigh Castle SS7 2PP

Overlooking the Thames estuary from a ridge to the south of the town of the same name, Hadleigh Castle dates back to about 1230. Edward III later transformed it into a fortification on a grand scale, designed to ward off French attack. Significant subsidence resulted in Hadleigh becoming a ruin. Today, the site is managed by English Heritage.


Wat Tyler Country Park, Pitsea, Basildon SS16 4UH

Situated at Basildon, Wat Tyler Country Park offers 125 acres of attractive parkland in the heart of the South Essex Marshes. There’s plenty here to entertain visitors, including a sculpture trail and café.


Brands Hatch, West Kingsdown DA3 8PU

Near Swanley, to the south of the Thames, Brands Hatch is among Britain’s best-known and best-loved motor racing circuits. First used as a dirt track motorcycle circuit on farmland, Brands Hatch hosts the May Bank Holiday Masters Festival, an important date in the sporting calendar.


Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford E20 2ST

Still fresh in the memory, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park was commissioned for the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. Here, you can recall many classic sporting images from that glorious summer as well as enjoy parklands, waterways and playgrounds.


St Martin’s Bell Tower, Basildon SS14 1DX

This unique 30m-high octagonal steel and glass bell tower stands at the western end of St Martin’s church in Basildon. Open to visitors, the tower houses eight bells, six of which came from a redundant church in Colchester, and was officially opened by Her Majesty the Queen in 1999 to mark the new millennium.


Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker Crown Building, Kelvedon Hall Lane, Brentwood, Essex CM14 5TL

A simple bungalow built by the Air Ministry in 1952 guards the entrance to the biggest and deepest cold war bunker open to view in south east England – 80ft below the Essex countryside. Designed for up to 600 military and civilian personnel, possibly even the Prime Minister, who would organize the survival of the population in the aftermath of a nuclear war. View communication rooms, a fully operational BBC studio, government rooms, canteen and dormitories.


The media’s image of Essex may have changed somewhat in recent years but the county’s wonderfully remote and atmospheric landscape remains timeless. Walks along the Thames Estuary Path in the south of the county offer dramatic views and invigorating breezes. Inland, there’s a vast network of footpaths and bridleways taking you to sites of historic and architectural interest and to the havens and haunts of a variety of wildlife.


There are some great places for cycling right on the Bell’s doorstep. Check out the visitessex website and you’ll find five great cycling routes passing through various locations in Essex. There’s the added bonus of shorter alternatives.


There’s plenty of choice in this delightful corner of the country. The year kicks off with the Horror on Sea Film Festival at Southend; March sees the Words in Walden Spring Festival at Saffron Walden; in June there is the Leigh Art Trail and in September there’s the Witham International Puppet Show and Essex Poetry Festival. The same month also witnesses one of the biggest events in the region – the annual Orsett Show – one of the oldest one-day country shows in England.

Getting there

Location, Location, Location

By Road: 

Take the Orsett exit off the A13, onto the A128 for half a mile. The Bell Inn & Horndon on the Hill are signposted on the right-hand side

By Rail: 

The best serviced railway station is Laindon (3.8 miles), which is 30 minutes from London’s Fenchurch Street Station



High Road , Horndon-on-the-Hill, Essex, SS17 8LD

Room rates & booking

Closest Inns

The Sun Inn

Dedham, Essex

Picture-book setting for this historic inn noted for delicious Italian-inspired food, decent wines, and charming period rooms

See more
The Crown at Stoke by Nayland - country pub with rooms

The Crown

Stoke by Nayland, Suffolk

Civilised inn deep in Constable country with super comfortable boutique rooms, seasonal menus and a cracking wine list

See more

The Anchor

Walberswick, Suffolk

Suffolk coastal gem and foodie haven for earthy seasonal food, amazing beer and wine, and comfortable eco-chalet rooms

See more

Booking enquiry - The Bell Inn

The Bell Inn cannot be booked online. Please complete the form below and The Bell Inn will check availabililty and reply to your request shortly.

Contact Details