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The Dog & Fox, Wimbledon, London

Joanna Hall

"Stay in a pub?" A friend in London cried incredulously when I told her of my plan to revisit my old neighbourhood of Wimbledon Village. But when she heard which pub I had in mind she backed down immediately; she'd recently read a glowing review of the Dog & Fox in a British newspaper, and it made her think of me. Back in the days when I lived in the affluent southwest London suburb, which is famous for many things including the world's most famous grand slam tennis tournament, accommodation of any kind, let alone of the quality kind, was limited. Any friends from out of town, or out of the country, who visited us usually stayed in central London. Fast-forward to this decade, however, and the Dog & Fox, which is one of Wimbledon's iconic watering holes, has been transformed into a cool boutique hotel and gastropub.

It sits in the heart of Wimbledon Village, just shy of the common, and up from the All England Tennis Club, and offers a real sense of history on arrival. As the story goes, Young's Brewery, which was founded in 1831, took the pub over a few years later to take advantage of passing stagecoach traffic. Back in the day, these venues were essential for many travellers moving about on horse or on foot; they were places to quench your thirst, eat a hearty meal, and enjoy a bed for the night before moving on. Today much of the Dog & Fox's early heritage has been beautifully revived. It has very much a warm country lodge theme, decorated in bold colours with a mix of bespoke and preloved furniture, accents of tartan and houndstooth, and statues of horses and dogs, along with framed retro tennis racquets.

The Rooms:

I'd been booked into the Hound Suite, described as a "premium boutique room" on the second floor, and from the moment I walked in, I was more than happy to have several hours to enjoy it, and its glamorous facilities, before heading downstairs to meet friends for drinks and dinner. From the high ceilings and faux fox fur throw on the bed, to the small dining table and padded seating in the gorgeous "turret", I loved it's warmth and quirkiness. As you enter the room there's a small hallway with two doors; one leading to the bathroom, and the other sweeping into the bedroom. The bedroom has a striking decor with white ceilings and half walls, and a sky blue wash from around waist high down, and in the rest of the building, the furniture was a mixture of preloved retro pieces and bespoke items, and somehow it just all worked. There were splashes of colour everywhere, from the rich green and houndstooth cushions on the bed, to the dark brown faux fur throw on the super comfy king sized bed, with plenty of artwork and curiosities, including an old fashioned radio and mugs. And there was the commanding view from the turret alone the Village both ways.

But don't think for a second the room was without modern day amenities. It came with a huge, wall-mounted flat screen TV with plenty of Sky cable channels, a luxury robe and slippers, complimentary Wi-Fi, a Nespresso Premium Coffee machine and tea making facilities, a hair dryer, and in the bathroom, lovely Algotherm premium toiletries. Speaking of the bathroom, which was a decent size particularly for an older hotel, it was equipped with a double vanity, a large walk-in show, and a spacious double bathtub ideal for a long soak after a long walk through Wimbledon Common. The decor and colour scheme was a lovely fusion of traditional with modern, with brilliant white tiles and chocolate accents.

The Bar And Dining

The huge bar downstairs is typical of an English style pub, with faux gas lamps, a highly polished wooden bar, tiled floors, and a mix of intimate tables for two with large tables and benches. On offer to quench your thirst is a full selection of Young's beers including cask ale and the finest of local microbreweries, fine wines, cocktails, and Pimms on tap for the summer and tennis fans. The restaurant has a similar style, with rustic wooden tables and chairs separated by free standing book cases dressed with old books and petite flower arrangements.

The menu largely pays homage to traditional pub grub, but takes it up quite a few notches, with offerings including top quality Aberdeen Angus certified steak, which is used in its handmade burgers, also free range wild game from Hampshire, farmhouse cheeses, and fresh homemade Yorkshire puddings. There are different menus for lunch, eating at the bar and Sunday lunch, featuring Wimbledon Village's favourite Sunday roast. Menus do change, and portions are generous. And if you're staying overnight, this is also the venue for breakfast, which offers cereals, fruits and pastries, and hot food à la carte.

To read our full dining review click here.

Other Facilities

There are no other facilities as this is a gastropub and boutique hotel, not a traditional hotel, however, there is a reception desk, the pub itself and the restaurant, and the many activities and delights of the Village, and Wimbledon down the hill, on your doorstep.

The Verdict

It was not only so much fun to revisit the Dog & Fox, as I'd enjoyed many a cold beer there back in the day, but it was also a wonderful and very comfortable stay. Ironically, the Hounds Suite was the review my friend had read, which made her think of me, and if you're ever planning to head to SW19, for the tennis, or just to see a different side of London, this lovely boutique hotel is just another reason to go.

To get to London fly Cathay Pacific from Sydney to London via Hong Kong. Cathay Pacific Airways is the 2014 Skytrax Airline of the Year and offers flights to over 190 destinations in 42 countries and territories. From Australia the airline has over 70 flights a week to Hong Kong from six major Australian cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Cairns and Perth - with a choice of flying in economy, premium economy or business class. From December 8, 2014 there are also four direct flights a week to Manchester from Hong Kong.

There are four flights daily from Sydney, three flights a day from Melbourne, daily flights from Brisbane, four flights a week from Cairns and Adelaide, and ten flights from Perth. All flights provide connections over the Hong Kong hub to the airline’s worldwide network, including eight European destinations (from March 2015 Zurich will be added, taking the number to nine). From Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific offers 5 daily flights to London, offering a choice of flying in economy, premium economy, business class or first class.

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