Out with a furry friend and fancy a pint and a bite to eat? Melissa Blease recommends some places where you’ll both get a warm welcome…
HALL AND WOODHOUSE
It’s heartwarming to be able to include a watering hole that one would not necessarily refer to as a pub in a feature like this. At first glance, the glossy looking Hall and Woodhouse complex, offering zones to match every social occasion from casual family breakfasts to post-sunset posh dining, may not immediately appear to bark pooch-friendly credentials.
But after a stroll around the city centre, the well behaved pooches are very welcome to join you in the spacious street-level Pantry, which serves people-pleasing delights such as fish finger sandwiches, tasty things-on-toast, modern British tapas and chic incarnations of classics such as fish and chips, burgers, big salads, etc. Might your dachshund need a drink? Could your Halvanese be hungry? Is your cockapoo in need of a cuddle? The staff are as lovely to man’s best friend as they are to their own; we’re hereby declaring that H&W stands for Hounds are Welcome.
Hall and Woodhouse, 1 Old King Street, Bath BA1 2JW
The Bath Pub Company triumvirate (the Marlborough Tav, The Chequers and the Hare and Hounds) are all as welcoming to dogs as they are to their owners. But today we’re focusing on the charms of the Marlborough Tavern: close to Royal Victoria Park, in one of Bath’s loveliest neighbourhoods.
There’s a lovely walled beer garden at this well-appointed inn, which has earned a reputation for its modern menus (if you and your hound are in search of the burger many reckon are the best in Bath) and easygoing, thoroughly congenial vibe.
Top tip: the big tables towards the front of the bar provide the best kennel-style cover for weary furry friends who will be offered a bowl of water if they ask nicely.
The Marlborough Tavern, Marlborough Buildings, Bath BA1 2LY
Dogs and country walks go together hand in… well, paw, do they not? But even the most foolhardy four legged friends need to rest their paws (and their owners’) mid-exertion. Surrounded by acres of country highways, byways and splashing-around opportunities, as well as being attached to a gorgeously characterful, split-level beer garden, the historic Inn at Freshford (around five miles/8km south east of Bath) – which has recently had a fantastic renovation and takeover – offers a very warm welcome to folk with tails in tow.
Few people in Bath can say that they don’t know where the White Hart is; drive in any direction through Widcombe, and it’s impossible for the huge white hart standing above the door not to catch your eye as it gazes placidly into the middle distance across the traffic snarl. Beyond the congestion of the main drag a veritable haven of tranquility is waiting to greet you and your canine companion(s).
If you’re looking for the perfect place to rest up after vigorous hill walking exercise session (good for exploring Lyncombe/Widcombe Hill and handy for the National Trust’ Prior Park Gardens too), you’ve most definitely found journey’s end. Kick back and relax your weary limbs in this scrubbed stylish sanctuary with an utterly divine beautifully planted garden outback.
While the dining room doesn’t offer access all areas to all dogs, there’s plenty of space for them to lounge about and make new friends in the bar and garden while you refuel from the uncomplicated but super-stylish menu or make merry with the well-kept real ales and/or superb wine list.
It could be said that Royal Victoria Park is, to Bath’s contemporary canine community, what the Assembly Rooms was to the groovy Georgians: the Heritage City’s most fashionable promenading hotspot, in the shadow of Bath’s most illustrious address the Royal Crescent. The park even hosts a dog show every summer. But as glamorous as Bath’s own version of Central Park is, it’s still offers a properly practical slice of park life.
Similarly, the Hop Pole (just across the road from the playground) offers a country-pub-in-the-city feel. The gorgeous hidden gem beer garden outback could be miles away from the busy Upper Bristol Road rather than just a few shakes of a tail away from it.
The chunky, funky-but-cosy interior easily adapts to all manner of well behaved canine personalities, many of whom can be regularly spotted dozing beneath the big tables while their owners enjoy the seasonal, locally sourced classy pub grub. This being a Bath Ales pub, serves great beer too.
Many of my friends prop up various bars in many pubs around Bath, but the one I’m always happiest to run into (or rather, be run at by) is Dakota, who is super-friendly, furry regular at the Garrick’s. She has a silky coat, a big smile and the endearing habit of playing fetch with bent straws. But Dakota isn’t the only dog to proudly call herself a regular – I usually make a new canine companion each time I visit. No wonder dogs love it here: on chilly days, there’s a fire indoors when a cosy snooze is the order of the day, and on warmer, dry days the alfresco tables offer mooching opportunities aplenty.
Wallet-friendly bar menu classics such as burgers, fish and chips, proper sarnies and moules frites make going home for dinner a pointless exercise, while the chefs’ ways with British seasonal flavours on the a la carte up the good times ante in style. GH sister pub The King William welcomes dogs too, and if your pet gets really lucky there might be a marrowbone going begging.