Famous for the pretty ponies that roam freely amongst the national park’s peaceful woodland, breathtaking glades, open moors, heathland, river valleys, and clifftop walks, the enchanting and picturesque New Forest is home to a plethora of perfect English country pubs that you need to check out.
Whether you’re riding your bike through the area with your family in the summer, taking a brisk country stroll in the winter, or watching the changing seasons transform the foliage from green to orange in Autumn, it’s always wise to know what the best pubs in the area are.
Here at Fed Up & Drunk, we’ve rounded up 6 of our favourite pubs in the New Forest for you to check out below. For a more comprehensive guide to eating out in Hampshire, make sure you pick up a copy of our recently released Hampshire Food & Drink Guide here or read a digital copy of the guide here.
Occupying a picturesque spot on the edge of the New Forest, surrounded by luscious countryside and open fields, The Bold Forester is a popular spot with locals and their four-legged friends, along with tourists visiting the nearby cities of Southampton and Salisbury.
Peruse the menu full of tempting home-cooked dishes prepared fresh to order as you relax within The Bold Forester’s cosy and warm interiors, complete with wooden beams, quirky furniture, and traditional touches that will make you feel right at home. Using local, seasonal ingredients, the pub’s dedicated and passionate chefs guarantee a fresh, tasty, and hearty meal. Start with the likes of prawn and crayfish cocktail or curry-roasted bhajis before moving onto a mouth-watering main like the fillet of wild boar or duo of olive- and herb-crusted lamb from the Chef’s Table list.
If you’re looking for the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion, The Bold Forester’s special afternoon tea shouldn’t be overlooked, comprising of a tempting selection of dainty finger sandwiches, alongside scones, cakes, and your choice of tea or coffee.
Set in the pretty hamlet of Ower, perched on the edge of the New Forest, this grand Victorian house, which was once home to a wealthy dowager, has since been sympathetically converted into a traditional, comfortable, and inviting inn. Warmly welcoming guests of all ages, after a reenergising stroll around the picturesque moors and National Park, bring your four-legged friends along with you and refuel within the stylish and cosy interiors of this rare gem of a British pub.
Elegantly blending the modern with the traditional, with tasteful touches such as dried hops garlands adorning the bar, the inn is home to 15 boutique en-suite rooms, each one thoughtfully decked out to retain the charm and character of this historic building while incorporating all the mod-cons you’ve come to expect. From the enticing selection of real ale, keg beer, and fine wine at the bar to the huge range of delectable British classics on the menu, you certainly won’t be disappointed by the food and drink offering here. The twice-baked cheese soufflé starter comes highly recommended and moreish mains such as homity pie and sizzling vegetable fajitas are bound to satisfy.
If you’re searching for the quintessential English country inn, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more charming or characterful example than The New Forest Inn. Founded in the 18th century and situated off the beaten track in the heart of the New Forest, this family-run inn is popular with visitors due to its traditional and welcoming dining room, well-stocked bar, and quaint English country garden with a sheltered outdoor seating area exploding with beautiful flowers and luscious greenery.
The perfect spot in which to watch the area’s famous resident ponies amble past, it’s not just its setting which makes this one of Hampshire’s must-visit pubs. Inspired by classic British cuisine, guests will be delighted to find a varied and tempting menu brimming with locally sourced ingredients. Start with the likes of tempura-battered tiger prawns or chicken tikka skewers before moving onto a main where you can choose from a selection of grilled dishes and burgers, as well as imaginative vegetarian options such as cauliflower macaroni cheese and vegan seasonal vegetable tagine.
Situated in the unspoilt village of Minstead and nestled amongst a plethora of adorable thatched cottages, The Trusty Servant Inn overlooks the village green and is a particularly popular start and end point with walkers and cyclists.
Why not sit in The Trusty Servant’s spacious garden area with your four-legged friend and relax with a pint, or instead cosy up inside within the traditional and welcoming interiors, complete with homely touches such as exposed beams and rustic furniture!? Whether you’re savouring a refreshing pint of your favourite real ale with your mates or you’re indulging in a hearty meal with your family, the pub’s comfortable and laid-back ambience will always make you feel like one of the locals. Home-cooked and prepared fresh to order, the food here is always a treat. Using the highest quality, locally sourced produce, the chefs have created an extensive and varied menu that is sure to suit every palate. Visit in the morning and enjoy the likes of a traditional full English, a tasty dish of eggs Florentine, or a tempting bagel. If you’re visiting later on in the day, you won’t be able to resist hearty dishes like the lamb shank hot pot or scrumptious steak and kidney pie.
Dating back to 1848, The Royal Oak Beaulieu, situated on the edge of the village of Beaulieu, boasts breathtaking views of the New Forest’s beautiful heaths. A beloved spot with cyclists, walkers and horse-riders – there are even five horse corrals in the garden – The Royal Oak Beaulieu recently underwent a refurbishment which welcomed a charming new dining room and snug to the establishment.
Offering an impressive array of quality cask ale, including Ringwood Best and Ringwood Fortyniner, as well as a varied selection of cider, spirits and mixers, and a wine list sourced from around the world, The Royal Oak Beaulieu makes the perfect pit stop for those looking for a quick pick me up or a relaxed catch up with friends and family. If you’re in need of a hearty meal, The Royal Oak’s menu caters for all tastes, with a tempting selection of seasonal dishes, all of which are homemade and freshly prepared on the premises each day. Expect starters like apple-cured salmon and chilli and coriander arancini and mains like the ploughman’s lunch and maple-glazed pork belly. Their Sunday roasts, complete with sides of seasonal vegetables, Yorkshire puddings, and lashings of gravy also shouldn’t be missed.
Offering classic British fare with a twist, like their mouth-watering vegan shepherd’s pie, The Royal Oak, nestled in the charming hamlet of Downton, is a must-visit spot for Hampshire’s foodies. A traditional country pub which was once an 18th-century coach house, relax within the tastefully decorated interiors featuring a restored fireplace, exposed brickwork, and antique beams and enjoy a pint from the pub’s well-stocked bar. Offering a great selection of drinks ranging from quality cask ale such as Ringwood Best to Amstel lager and Thatchers cider, and an extensive wine list, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Visit The Royal Oak at lunchtime and dig into delicious appetisers such as wild boar and apple parfait and salt and pepper calamari and mains of beer-battered haddock with hand-cut chips and chicken breast with tangy tarragon and mushroom sauce. Those visiting in the evening will be equally impressed with the food selection. Excite your tastebuds with starters of spiced Thai-style fishcakes or the more traditional Scotch egg before moving onto mains such as tender confit duck leg with honey-roasted breast and sweet and sour red cabbage, and simple classics like beef and ale pie.