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The Dog & Bear Hotel at Lenham is one of those little jewels that you can spend a lifetime looking for. Than when you do find such a treasure you sit and wander how everyone else just pass it by. I found the Dog & Bear one night after my old man 'Jurassic Spark' mentioned that Lenham was a nice village to go to enjoy a fine ale. I found it last year on one balmy August night when it was too hot to sleep or eat and I fancied a real nice English ale.
The Dog & Bear is a 15th Century coaching inn that has been modernised to meet modern comforts without losing too much of its charm. It is a pub first and foremost with a bar area or a good dining room to choose from as soon as you walk in through the front door. The rooms are mostly upstairs with a few on the ground, they are equipped with modern furniture, however the single glazed sash windows are much older, although this adds to the natural feel of the place.
So how do you find this little jewel hidden away from sight? The village of Lenham is not far from the main artery of Kent the M20. Indeed it is right alongside it, but you will have to journey along the older artery of the A20 from junction 8 until you can reach Lenham. Once in Lenham the Dog & Bear is easy to find, the village is small and the car park in the square (middle) of it is adjacent to the pub. The first time I visited Lenham I parked the car and looked around to see the Dog & Bear right in front of me. All I had to do was cross the road and I was there.
Inside, the whole pub has the feeling of a much older world. The bar, the décor and the wares available behind the bar have an ancient feel to them. The fine ales from the Shepherd Neame brewery are ready to be tasted for their good quality of Kentish hops and even their wines are perfect for the atmosphere. There are oaked white wines and fruity reds all waiting to be drunk. So once you have enjoyed the bar it is on to the restaurant.
The restaurant area is to the left of the main door and continues with the old world theme. The smell of the oak beams permeates through the air as you sit and read the menu, which has a wonderful choice of foods. I think I had a steak and ale pie one night and bangers & mash another. I recalled a few other meals that caught my eye, which include a lamb roast, a lasagne and a cod dish. All the meals I had in the restaurant were faultless and reasonably priced at around £20 all in for one adult.
The bedroom I had, although decked out in modern attire still retained that old feel to it solely due to the sash windows. It wasn't the largest room, but the bed was comfortable with a mattress that was just about right for me even though it was on the softer side. The TV was small and placed on a desk/drawer set, it only had the terrestrial channels, but as I spent most of my time in the bar, restaurant or at work it wasn't a major problem. The en-suite was clean, the shower was a little low on power, but overall the facilities there were good enough for me. I only spent two nights in the room and I can say that I did get a good nights sleep on all nights.
Now for the price, the single room with breakfast costs £60 and a double/twin £80, which for my company is expensive, however I was able to get the two nights out of them for the as the normal Premier Travel inns that I used were fully booked up. For the price I felt that I had a good deal as the room was comfortable, the restaurant served excellent nosh and the pub was right for me as I couldn't see any alcopop rubbish and the ales were knock out perfect. It was a shame for me that I only found this hotel right at the end of the contract in Kent, as I wish that I could have stayed a few more nights in this little haven beside the A20.
In short the Dog & Bear Hotel is brilliant for short stops in the Kentish countryside either on the way to the ports or for business. As for a place to spend a whole week I'm not so sure. The rooms are small and larger groups may struggle with the amount of space. There are no lifts, but there are a few rooms on the ground floor for those who struggle with stairs. Finally Lenham itself is no ball of fire, a two minute walk in any direction will have you standing in a field, but that it is part of its charm, its appeal. You really are detached from the rest of the world.
This review may be found on other review sites under the same username and is also written by me.
The Dog & Bear,
The Square, Lenham,
Post Code: ME17 2PG