Bel & the Dragon Kingsclere Pub with rooms in Kingsclere, Hampshire

Prices from:
£95 per night

David Hancock says:

  • Reinvented 16th-century inn
  • Country-chic feel; relaxed vibe
  • Eclectic modern European menu
  • Stylish contemporary rooms
  • Great walking from the front door

Sticky FingersMuddy PawsGood for WalkingOutdoor PursuitsCandlelitVisit a Stately Pile90 Minutes from London15 Minutes from the MotorwayPrivate Dining

Real Time Booking Available

Bel & the Dragon Kingsclere Kingsclere, Hampshire, RG20 5PP

The personal touch

Pretty Kingsclere nestles beneath the rolling North Hampshire Downs, famous for its horse racing gallops, where several superstar horses have been trained, and for being the inspiration for Richard Adams’s classic novel Watership Down. So, expect to rub shoulders with the racing fraternity and booted walkers by the roaring fire in cosy bar at the Bel and the Dragon, formerly known as The Swan, tucked away by the church in the heart of the village. Reinvented as a chic country inn by the niche Bel and the Dragon group in 2016, the striking Georgian façade hides a rambling and timbered 16th-century interior, best seen in four interconnecting dining rooms and the nine upstairs bedrooms. Low beams, wood floors, soothing hues, shelves of books and games, crackling fires and flickering candles create a relaxed and intimate atmosphere. An hour and a half from London, it’s the perfect weekend bolthole for breezy downland walks and visiting Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey, just a 10-minute drive away.

Sticky fingers

Children can expect a big welcome; fresh food on a special ‘puzzle’ menu (+ tabletops to scribble on) and £10 Sunday lunch; board games & toys; family rooms available.

Muddy paws

Being a popular walking area dogs are very welcome in the bar and overnight in some bedrooms.


Small sheltered rear terrace for summer sipping; fire pits for cooler evenings

What’s the Damage?

9 doubles/twin £95 – £145

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken
  • Alfresco dining
  • Private dining
  • Disabled access to bar & restaurant
  • Parking – small car park & roadside parking




Bel & the Dragon Kingsclere Kingsclere, Hampshire, RG20 5PP

Do not disturb

All nine bedrooms have a classic country feel and are tucked under the eaves and beams in the oldest part of the inn, so expect timbered walls, wonky floors and cosy nooks and crannies. 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 under floor heating and Bramley Bathroom Products; larger bathrooms have a walk-in shower and freestanding bath. A nice touch is the complimentary bottle of Sipsmith Sloe Gin on windowsill. You also have use of the beamed upstairs drawing room with deep sofas, comfy chairs, stacks of books to read and board games to play, not to forget the decanter of complimentary malt whisky. A great breakfast – try the poached duck egg and avocado with bacon chutney – will set you up for the day.


What’s the Damage?

9 doubles/twin £95 – £145

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken
  • Alfresco dining
  • Private dining
  • Disabled access to bar & restaurant
  • Parking – small car park & roadside parking



Eat & Drink

Bel & the Dragon Kingsclere Kingsclere, Hampshire, RG20 5PP

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 (posh fish and chips) and delicious meats dishes from the rotisserie (suckling pig, crispy crackling, spiced apple chutney) and the Josper grill (half grilled lobster, garlic butter, zucchini fries). Typically, kick of your meal with wild garlic and white onion soup, follow with crab linguini or hake and chorizo stew, and finish with rhubarb pannacotta and crushed honeycomb. 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 premium spirits 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: 8am – 10.30am
Lunch: 12 noon – 3pm (food all day Sunday 12 noon – 9pm)
Dinner: 6pm – 10pm

Time at the bar

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

What’s the Damage?

9 doubles/twin £95 – £145

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken
  • Alfresco dining
  • Private dining
  • Disabled access to bar & restaurant
  • Parking – small car park & roadside parking



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 - Bel & the Dragon Kingsclere


Laverstoke Park Farm Shop, Overton RG25 3DR

Certified as organic and biodynamic, this multi award-winning farm is owned by former Formula 1 champion Jody Schecktar. With its own on-site butchers, the farm shop provides an outlet for its products, including organic meats, seasonal fruit and veg grown in the walled garden, prize-winning mozzarella, ice cream buffalo milk and beers.


Leckford Farm Shop, Stockbridge SO20 6EH

Five minutes' drive from The Greyhound on the Test, this Waitrose-owned farm shop stocks over a 1000 different products. Although they use 60 local suppliers, many of the items are produced on the estate itself, including the wheat used in its own-label flour, milk, apples, pears, free-range eggs and chickens. There's a cafe, too, offering a breakfast and lunch menu.


Caracoli, Winchester S023 9AH

A coffee shop with an award winning barista, Caracoli serves a variety of home-baked cakes and biscuits, as well as lunches of hearty soups, filled focaccia rolls and home-made sausage rolls and salads. There's a food store, too, which stocks the cafe's own 'Caracoli Kitchen' range, giving you a chance to take home what you've enjoyed in the cafe.


Ramsbury Brewery, Ramsbury, Marlborough SN8 2NN

Whether your preference is for traditional best bitter or something stronger, this brewery stocks a range for all tastes, including its Deer Hunter, Ramsbury Gold and also Silver Pig Stout. As part of the Ramsbury Estate, they use barley and water that comes from their own land and offer tours of the brewery.


Bombay Sapphire Gin Distillery, Whitchurch RG28 7NR

Discover the artistry and heritage behind Bombay Sapphire at a state-of-the-art distillery, set astride the banks of the crystal clear River Test. Go behind the scenes and discover how the gin is infused with ten exotic botanicals from around the world.

Out & About

1 Inn Location - Bel & the Dragon Kingsclere



Leckford Golf Course, Leckford SO20 6JF

At Leckford you'll find two 9-hole courses; the longest is the Old Course, 6276 yards and par 72. Set in about 100 acres bisected by the River Test, the Old Course was designed by Harry S. Colt (who also designed Wentworth, Muirfield and Sunningdale).


Mid-Hants Railway (Watercress Line), Alresford SO24 9JG

Saved from extinction in 1973, this preserved steam railway takes its name from the locally grown cress once transported from Hampshire to London by train. Services run for ten miles between Alton and Alresford and a trip on the line is a great way to recapture the atmosphere of a journey by steam train in the pre-Beeching age.


The Watermill Theatre, Bagnor, Newbury RG20 8AE

The present theatre is mid-19th century though there has been a mill here since the time of the Doomsday Book. The Watermill is just the place to combine peace and tranquility and a picturesque riverside setting with theatre of the highest calibre. Many major productions have been staged at this prestigious playhouse.


Newbury Racecourse, Newbury RG14 7NZ

Dating back to the start of the 20th century and used as a POW camp for German prisoners during the First World War, Newbury Racecourse has courses for flat races and over jumps. Long a popular venue for the Royal Family, this is where Her Majesty the Queen celebrated her 86th birthday.


Bucklebury Farm Park, Bucklebury, Reading RG7 6RR

An ideal attraction for plenty of family fun and entertainment, Bucklebury Farm Park is located to the east of Newbury. The farm has lots of animals, play equipment and even a zip wire. You’ll also find a farm shop, café and range of picnic tables.


Hot-Air Ballooning over Berkshire

Weather permitting, you might get a bird’s eye view of West Berkshire and even the stunning landscape that surrounds the Pheasant. There’s no better way to appreciate the beauty of this corner of England than from the basket of a hot-air balloon.


Thruxton racing circuit, Thruxton, Andover SP11 8PW

Thruxton Motorsport Centre, near Andover, is the perfect playground for Top Gear petrol heads. This is where you get to drive your dream car on Britain’s fastest race circuit. In addition to circuit driving experiences, there’s 4x4 off-road driving and plenty more opportunity for thrills and adventure.



The Winchester Bookshop, St George's Street SO23 8BG

For lovers of antiquarian and second-hand bookshops, this established shop in Winchester’s St George’s Street offers an excellent selection on a variety of subjects. 01962 855630.


The White Horse Bookshop, High Street, Marlborough SN8 1HN

The White Horse Bookshop in Marlborough’s handsome High Street has an excellent selection of books – both bestsellers and lesser-known titles. The shop also stocks a wide range of quality art materials, including Daler-Rowney and Winsor & Newton paints.


Hungerford RG17 0NJ

Hungerford is a lovely little town and it's full of antique shops - some extremely high-end and some a bit more affordable. Take the B4001, it's a nice road through pretty countryside.


Below Stairs of Hungerford, Hungerford RG17 0NB

An amazing and unique shop specialising in items from the 19th and early 20th century, and an ideal hunting ground for anyone doing up an old house. If you need door furniture or actual doors, coat hooks or stair rods, light fittings or kitchenware, or have an obsession with medical collectables, or old keys, fishing tackle or shop fittings, this place is highly recommended. Everything is beautifully arranged as well.


Bertie Golightly, Marlborough SN8 1HU

Vintage, pre-owned designer fashion is the theme at Bertie Golightly in Marlborough’s Kingsbury St. One of the first top designer re-sale boutiques, Bertie’s has an established clientele and items by many top names, including Chanel and Burberry.


The Henge Shop, Avebury SN8 1RF

If you’ve been to visit Avebury’s ancient stones, don’t leave without visiting the Henge Shop where, as the owners put it, you’ll discover ‘a variety of subjects from the archaeological to the arcane.’ Gold, silver and pewter jewellery, woollen hats and dowsing rods are among the eclectic mix.


Natures Corner, Newbury RG14 1AE

This is Newbury’s only independent health food store and here you’ll find organic items, natural remedies and therapies, body care, homeopathy, aromatherapy, and many unusual gifts.


White Coco, Hungerford RG17 0EG

Located in Bridge Street, at the bottom end of Hungerford High Street, White Coco’s sole aim is to offer customers a handpicked, carefully chosen collection of clothes that provide a ‘different’ look. Clothes are stylish, quirky and fun.


Roxtons, Hungerford RG17 0EH

A trip to the small Berkshire town of Hungerford is always an enjoyable experience. On your next visit, make time to visit Roxtons, the outdoor clothing expert. You’ll find all manner of gifts and stocking fillers here – including candles, fragrances and tableware.

Places to visit


Whitchurch Silk Mill RG28 7AL

Dating from 1800 and restored by the Hampshire Buildings Preservation Trust, Whitchurch is the oldest silk mill in the country. Weavers work here using 19th-century machinery.


Ashdown House, Lambourn RG17 8RE

Built for the Queen of Bohemia in the 17th century and remotely situated in windswept downland country near Lambourn in Berkshire, Ashdown House has the look of an elegant dolls' house. The house is small and intimate, with a striking staircase hung with fine 17th-century paintings. Ashdown is tenanted, so check opening times before visiting.


The Museum of Farnham, West Street, Farnham GU9 7DX

Founded in 1961, the Museum of Farnham explains in impressive detail the history of this fine Georgian town. Expect fascinating archaeological artefacts, nationally important artworks by local artists and a striking costume collection.


Alice Holt Forest, Farnham GU10 4LS

The sound of birdsong is one of the great pleasures of a stroll in Alice Holt Forest, south of Farnham. During early summer the distinct songs of warblers can be heard here. Butterflies are prolific and there is a rich variety of flora and fauna. Look out for deer as you stroll between Norway spruce and Corsican pine deep in the heart of the forest, once part of a royal hunting ground.


Highclere Castle, Highclere Park, Highclere RG20 9RN

Remodelled and virtually rebuilt by Sir Charles Barry in the mid-19th century, Highclere Castle is now one of Britain’s best-known houses, thanks to the international success of the award-winning ITV television series Downton Abbey, whose producers chose much of the interior for filming. A tour of the house and park is a must.


Shaw House, Church Road, Newbury RG14 2DR

One of the area’s oldest buildings, Shaw House is a prime example of an early symmetrical H-plan Elizabethan mansion. The house was built by a local clothier and visited by Elizabeth I. In the 1940s it became a school, though concerns about the structure led to a £6 million restoration. Shaw House opened its doors to the public in 2008 for the first time in over 400 years.


Silchester Roman Town, Reading RG7 2HG

Probably better known as Calleva Atrebatum, Silchester offers an intriguing insight into the Roman Occupation when this was the site of an important town. Walk between the walls to get a real flavour of community life during this fascinating period.


Sandham Memorial Chapel, Burghclere, Newbury RG20 9JT

Built in 1926-27, Sandham is an unusual war memorial. Inside are hugely impressive and ambitious murals by Stanley Spencer, which took six years to complete and are reputed to be the most important series of decorative paintings produced in England in the 20th century. The images represent scenes from the Great War in which Spencer served as an orderly in a military hospital. The chapel is managed by the National Trust.


Welford Park, Newbury RG20 8HU

This is just the place to visit if you like snowdrops. The park is open daily in February when extensive drifts of this delicate little flower create a dazzling picture. The little church of St Gregory has an octagonal spire and a rare round tower. Fans of The Great British Bake Off will recognize this parkland landscape instantly. The BBC series was filmed here.

Hampshire benefits from some very varied landscape – much of it ideal for walking – a glorious mix of classic English countryside and vast swathes of chalk downland. The North Wessex Downs is probably the most obvious choice for an invigorating hike over the downs. Elsewhere, there are many miles of footpaths and bridleways and sections of the Test Way and, in Berkshire, the Thames and Kennet & Avon towpaths to enjoy.


Study the Hampshire and Berkshire cycle maps and you’ll find a huge range of routes. The Lambourn and Kennet valleys are perfect for cycling as are the tracks, lanes and bridleways of the county’s remote south-west corner. Many of these routes offer grand views and miles of solitude.


There’s plenty of choice in North Hampshire and Berkshire, with festivals and events to suit everyone. Among the annual fixtures is the Newbury Spring Festival (May), held at different venues in and around the town, and the Hungerford & District Community Arts Festival staged in July. Autumn also sees some big events, with the Royal County Show at Newbury Showground, the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury Racecourse and the Victorian Extravaganza in Hungerford.

Getting there

Location, Location, Location

By Road: Kingsclere is signed off A339 between Basingstoke and Newbury.

By Train: Nearest railway stations are Newbury (8 miles – 1 hour from Paddington) and Basingstoke (9 miles – 40 minutes from Waterloo)


Swan Street, Kingsclere, Hampshire, RG20 5PP

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