The White Horse Hotel Dorking – Boutique Hotel near Gatwick.
Dating back to the 13th century, The White Horse Hotel is a historic inn in the charming Surrey market town of Dorking. The delightful traditional timbered building is centrally located on the High Street with the Denbies Wine Estate and Box Hill as near neighbours and within easy reach of the RHS Gardens Wisley and The Surrey Hills.
With Gatwick Airport only 12 miles away it’s also a perfect stop-off point for West London with Hampton Court, Richmond Park and Kew Gardens all within striking distance and Thorpe Park and Chessington World of Adventures close by…and yes the hotel has its own parking! That the hotel has recently undergone a multi-million-pound makeover by owners the Bespoke Hotels group is apparent from the quality of the interior finish with Farrow & Ball colours, evocative filament light fittings and artwork inspired by the local Surrey countryside.
The White Horse Hotel, Dorking has a historic connection to Victorian writer Charles Dickens who was a resident during the writing of the Pickwick Papers and the hotel has delightful Dickensian memorabilia spread through its public and private spaces. With super-comfy beds, flat-screen TVs and lots of storage space, the bedrooms are cosy and inviting and with Green & Spring toiletries having a rainfall shower in the bathroom is a properly luxurious experience.
The White Horse Hotel has a bar and restaurant collectively known as The Dozen. The bar is dark and romantic – a perfect spot for a date or meeting friends. In the interests of research, we tried four of the reasonably priced cocktails. The Fagin’s Martini (another Dickensian reference) was made with Sipsmith Vodka, Sacred English Dry Vermouth, Olive Brine. It had a perfect balance between the saltiness of the brine and the alcohol – it was a bit like a grown-up salad dressing! I love a classic Negroni that hasn’t been messed around with and the hotel’s Classic Negroni, blending Tanqueray Gin, Rossi Vermouth and Campari was strong and had the right level of bitterness. On the opposite end of the taste spectrum was The Spiced Cupsmith. a mildly spiced rum-based take on Dick Bradsell Espresso Martini with Kraken Spiced Rum, Kahlua, cinnamon and vanilla syrup, espresso and chocolate bitters. Finally from the upcoming spring cocktail menu came the Cucumber and Elderflower Sling, a wonderfully refreshing cooler with a hint of watermelon in its flavour.
All that drinking is thirsty work…fortunately the restaurant has an enticing list of local British sparkling wines including the neighbouring Denbies Estate, Blackdown Ridge, Greyfriars, and Albury Estate. We opted for something a little more restrained, in the form of a nicely mineral Picpoul de Pinet, Reserve Mirou, France.
For our starters we chose the smoked salmon which was excellent quality and served in thick slices, beautifully plated with caperberries, a balsamic reduction and lemon.
A creamy Lobster Macaroni Cheese was more suitable for someone with a robust appetite with lots of tender chunks of lobster give a mild kick by the chilli flakes.
For the main dishes, my fillet steak had lots of flavour and came with a tasty blue cheese dressing, rather salty mash and beef tomato. It came more medium than the medium rare which was ordered. However, the pan-fried hake was a great piece of fish perfectly cooked with crisp asparagus spears and a parsley sauce on the side.
The award for the prettiest dish of the night must go to the Chocolate pot served with Chantilly cream. The mix of chocolate and cream was luscious and very sexy! Our other dessert was a slightly tart but better behaved Lemon Posset served with freshly baked shortbread – also lovely. We tumbled upstairs to our comfy room at the White Horse Hotel and slept like babies.
After a great night’s sleep, it was time for breakfast back down in the restaurant. There is a good looking buffet featuring cereals, fruit, yoghurts, fruit pots, toast, juices and teas and coffees but we decided to go for a cooked option. With a wide choice, the only problem was knowing what to order. In the end, we went for the very on-trend crushed chilli & lime avocado, poached hen eggs, tomato salsa, watercress and multigrain sourdough and the Scottish smoked salmon with scrambled egg on multigrain sourdough. Both were excellent and a great way to start the day – with more time I could have eaten my way through the whole menu! So often high-street market town hotels can be old-fashioned and a bit fusty. The White Horse Hotel sets a new standard for this kind of operation bringing the chicness of the boutique hotel into a traditional setting. With its location and historical connections, it should be your go-to choice for a staycation in the area, a Boutique Hotel near Gatwick airport or as a base for forays into South-West London.
White Horse Hotel,
United Kingdom RH4 1BE
Enquiries: 01306 881138
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Disclosure: We were guests of The White Horse Hotel Dorking. All content is editorially given.
Do check some of our other recommended Boutique Hotels in England, Scotland and Wales.
If you happen to be travelling to Heathrow, we recommend Brook Green Hotel, on the outskirts of London and very close to public transport connections to the airport.
For flights from Birmingham International, how about The Welcombe Hotel, near Stratford upon Avon