Henley is a beautiful place; known mainly for its world leading place in rowing and the Royal Henley Regatta, it is also surround by stately homes, golf courses, superb restaurants and of course, the river. So when I was invited with a few others to spend a day in the company of Lolly Green, entrepreneur and owner of The Cherry Tree, it was impossible to resist. The plan was to spend one night and two days in Henley, to see what it had to offer, and where was the best place to stay.
Knowing Henley as I do, it is very difficult to find anywhere ‘in’ Henley to stay, so The Cherry Tree, only eight minutes away from Henley Station, is an obvious solution, even if it is still a secret to many.
The Cherry Tree Inn is an imposing feature on the small village of Stoke Row, only minutes from Henley, recessed back from the road, with its gardens almost looking like a village green. It could easily be considered a picture postcard pub of an English village.
Lolly explained that whilst she wanted to promote The Cherry Tree Inn, she also wanted to promote other areas of interest within Henley. People who stayed at her Inn wanted to takes part and know about events in Henley; and people wanting to visit Henley wanted places to stay that suited their needs. This level of sharing and openness is much stronger in close knit communities, of which I am proud to say Henley still is.
Having unloaded our things, a pint of Brakspears in hand, it was time for lunch. The weather was good so we decided to site outside. Stirdy wooden benches and an umbrella to hide the sun made for a great welcome.
The lunchtime menu was extensive, the starters stimulating every possible range of palette, and generating four different choices. The food was prepared and presented so well that it is worthy of a full photo of each.
Sunday lunch without a nice roast? I don’t think so. Neither did the other diners, all deciding on the full roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, veg, fat roasted spuds and proper beef gravy. This was a Sunday roast like you wished your Mother could have made, and with extra thick slices of beef piled on top of each other. For a Sunday roast, everyone said ‘wow’ before they even tasted it.
Room for desserts? Sadly not for all of us, but I couldn’t resist.
Lolly’s husband and partner is Douglas Green, a well known London Chef. It is obvious that the blend of his culinary expertise and her promotional skills have made the Cherry Tree into a successful business, meeting the needs of diners and residents without any compromise on quality or that secretive ‘wow’ factor. He changes the menus on a quarterly basis, using locally sourced produce where possible. Having seen both of them moving in and out of the kitchens, talking to both guests and staff it is clear that they both still enjoy the human contact which is so missing in many of the chain pubs these days.
After and amazing day out visiting just some of the charms of Henley, we return for a nightcap and to our rooms for the night.
The rooms are in a converted barn in a separate building at the side of the main pub area. All looking new, they have high beamed ceilings and a genuine feel of traditional quality mixed with modern style. The layout is simple yet well delivered. Attention to detail is everywhere, from the perfectly turned down beds to the ornately wrapped towels and layed out toiletries.
Waking up, a shower and dress, then a few steps across the courtyard into the pub, the welcoming smell of coffee and toast reaching you before you open the door.
Breakfast is served when you want it, and not to any tight deadline; and all freshly cooked to order. A colourful table of cereals and fruits are offered whilst you order is taken and prepared. Full English is always the order of the day for me, but you can mix and match if you want something else. One sausage, extra bacon? No problem.
Toast and Marmalade are also offered, the bread being locally produced, thick cut and toasted to your liking. I love mine well toasted, and maybe with a frown from the other guests I got exactly what I wanted.
Breakfast served to you, exactly as you want it.
So after a great stay in surroundings that exceeded many 4 star hotels, I was all set up for the day ahead and a trip into Henley. Eight minutes in the taxi and I am in the car park by the river in Henley.
The Cherry Tree
Stoke Row Road
Henley On Thames
+44 1491 680430