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48 hours in Surrey

By Sara Hardy– 14th October 2020

Surrey has so much more to offer than just quick and easy links to the capital. With its world-class gardens, elegant country houses, vast woodlands and sunny vineyards we are never short of places to visit. Teeming with picture-perfect villages in which anything from cosy pubs to Michelin starred restaurants can be found, I feel very grateful to call this place home. Due to the current Covid restrictions, I would suggest booking each of my restaurant recommendations (together with the Denbies vineyard tour and timed entry to RHS Wisley) in advance of your Surrey staycation.

Surrey staycation itinerary


Friday lunchtime: 

Start your weekend in style with lunch at one of my favourite places, the characterful Onslow Arms in West Clandon which is easily accessed from the M25. The food here is consistently excellent with a wine list to match. If the weather dares to be anything but kind, head inside and snuggle up on one of the chesterfields that sit beside the imposing inglenook fireplace. If the weather calls for rosé or Pimms, the walled garden is the perfect spot for you.


Friday afternoon: 

You would be forgiven for not wanting to leave this lovely place, but the two-minute drive to the top of Newlands Corner is more than worth the effort. It is here that you will find some of the best views Surrey has to offer. Blow away the cobwebs with a choice of circular walks varying in length and incline which take you past the turquoise spring-fed lakes beside the Silent Pool gin and vodka distillery. You will also pass the organic vineyard of Albury which provides exquisite wines to many of England’s most prestigious restaurants. You will certainly deserve a rest and a refuel after any of these walks!


Friday evening: 

The journey to Ripley (birthplace of guitar legend Eric Clapton, and your home for the next two nights) will take approximately ten minutes. Once you have settled in to your beautiful accommodation at Broadway Barn (consistently rated 5 out of 5 on TripAdvisor), take a stroll down the tree-lined high street for a drink at the intimate Ripley Anchor which dates back to the 16th century and is owned by two protégées of Michelin starred chef, Steve Drake. I would absolutely recommend dinner here too; its cool but cosy atmosphere and its prestigious accolades including Michelin’s Bib Gourmand make it a glorious spot to spend the evening. Alternatively, a few steps down the high street will take you to The Clock House where you can enjoy the full Michelin star experience.

Saturday morning: 

If you happen to be staying on the second Saturday of the month, do call in to the farmers market on the village green before setting off; it’s a foodie’s paradise! Otherwise, drive ten minutes into the Surrey hills to the chocolate box village of Shere. The eagle-eyed among you may find it looks rather familiar, particularly if you have seen any of the Bridget Jones movies as many of the scenes were filmed here. (You can read my blog on Surrey’s TV and movie appearances here). Leave your car in the large parking area behind the village hall and meander a few steps down towards the Dabbling Duck to enjoy a delicious breakfast beside the stream. Take a stroll and soak up the atmosphere; you can’t help but admire its pretty houses, boutique shops and tea rooms.


Saturday lunch: 

From Shere, the twenty-minute drive to Denbies wine estate will take you through the stunning village of Abinger Hammer and across the Surrey Hills. Offering spectacular views over the 265-acre vineyard, Box Hill and the North Downs, the contemporary Gallery Restaurant provides a highly memorable setting for lunch. The seasonal set menu is almost entirely sourced from local suppliers and the wine list needs little introduction.


Saturday afternoon: 

To continue making incredible memories at this breathtaking location, take one of the hourly outdoor vineyard tours (suitable for children as the tour is provided by a covered tractor train) or an indoor winery tour. When you are ready to leave Denbies and if time allows, you could take the short drive up to Box Hill which is famous for many well-known cycle tours, not to mention more great views.


Saturday evening: 

Depending on which way the mood takes you, there are two stand out places that I would thoroughly recommend, both within an easy twenty-minute drive from Ripley. Michelin starred Sorrel brings you mouth tingling flavours of discovery from their first class restaurant in Dorking. Their plates are packed with ingenuity and excellence leaving you tantalisingly keen to return. Not only this, but Sorrel has recently been voted as one of the UK’s  sexiest restaurants putting Surrey fine dining firmly on the map. It is little surprise that it has featured in The Times,  Condé Nast TravelerThe Caterer Mag and Surrey Life Magazine to name but a few.


Should you fancy something a little closer to your accommodation in Ripley, The Swan in Esher is one of José Pizarro’s four restaurants, but his very first pub. Don’t be fooled by the extremely pleasing gastro pub décor which sits beside the village green; the tapas here rivals any I’ve had on my many business trips to Madrid.

Sunday morning: 

After a veritable feast last night, whichever option you chose, I suggest taking a few steps down the high street to Nest home and café where you will find a range of tasty breakfast options that can be enjoyed in warm and relaxed surroundings. When you’re ready to move on, drive no more than five minutes to RHS Wisley and spend as much or as little time there as you wish. It is easy to spend the day exploring and wandering through the many parts of the garden that will appeal to everyone. Opened by The Duchess of Cambridge in 2019 is a superb wooden play area which children love. They will also enjoy running through the fruit fields, looking for fish in the large ponds, climbing the rockery, getting lost in the rose garden and exploring the glasshouse. RHS Wisley offers restaurant and café style dining should you wish to have something to eat before setting off for your journey home.





Where to stay:

Broadway Barn, Ripley http://www.broadwaybarn.com

Beaverbrook, Leatherhead https://www.beaverbrook.co.uk

Foxhills, Ottershaw https://www.foxhills.co.uk/stay

Pennyhill Park, Bagshot https://www.exclusive.co.uk/pennyhill-park/

Great Fosters, Egham https://www.alexanderhotels.co.uk/great-fosters/

The Runnymede, Runnymede on Thames  https://www.runnymedehotel.com/

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