Looking back at previous Top 100 pubs, there’s not many upmarket examples in there (this one apart of course). So I’m glad to be able to add a Proper Posh Pub to my list. It’s good to know there are places to drop in to overhear conversations about Danish gilt rates and castle breaks in Liechtenstein.
On Wednesday we pitched our campervan just outside Winchester (well 3 miles, sorry Mrs RM) and walked past the cemetery in the dark to revisit the Wykeham Arms. It’s beautifully situated just outside the gate to the Cathedral.
The Wykeham was a notably smart place in a notably smart town when Mrs RM and I stayed over 20 years ago. The acquisition of Gales by Fullers seems to have made no difference internally, or to the character of the pub. If anything, believe it or not, the beer was even better.
Some folk (perhaps even me on a different day) might find it a bit cluttered, but tonight it worked for me. The famous school desks were a reassuring presence.
We thought about dining with them, as the phrase goes, but that involved submitting a written request via our butler for a table last week, so a slow pint it was.
For your £4.20 you get an enchanting series of rooms near the Cathedral, friendly but not obsequious service (“ooh, are you feeling thirsty Sir ?”), chilled water and the best pint of London Pride this year, smooth and full-bodied. Mrs RM struggled a bit with the livelier Flowerpots.
What really stood out was the number of smart people just out for a drink, even if “What a marvellous House Red ! ” was a common remark. One gent even complained that the problem with pubs nowadays was that they’re overrun with diners. There’s hope yet !