Our stay at Merry Harriers together with meals were complimentary for the purpose of this review. However, all views, opinions and new-found love of shepherd hut hygge are entirely my own.
Shepherd huts, llama trekking, gin making and a taste of village life. Join me on a countryside escape to Hambledon in Surrey.
The Merry Harriers Inn sits in the rural village of Hambledon, Surrey, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The 16th century inn and adjoining clutch of shepherd huts are part of the eclectic Peter de Savary collection of hotels.
We’d loved our stays at Eastbury Hotel in Sherborne and the stylish Beach Hut suites and Beachcroft Hotel in Felpham, West Sussex and were looking forward to discovering what this de Savary property held in store.
Merry Harriers Inn, Hambledon
Tucked between the gentle folds of the Surrey Hills, 4-miles south of Godalming, sits the tiny village of Hambledon. As with any English village worth its salt there’s a pub. And it’s the best kind of pub.
The Merry Harriers is an atmospheric 16th century Inn complete with low beams, a roaring fire and a long history. It’s where locals and visitors chew over the issues of the day, laugh, joke and chat together over a drink and dig into some great pub grub.
I got the feeling that the pub is very much the heart of Hambledon and we were made to feel incredibly welcome by this friendly community.
Before we’d even checked in, a local guy at the bar had filled us in on the best local walks, what to see in the village and the secret that the yew tree in the graveyard holds. Thanks Tig.
We could’ve chatted longer but we had an appointment with Vann Lane Gin a few steps down the lane. But, before we wet our whistles at the distillery let me show you around our cute, cosy shepherd’s hut...
Merry Harriers Shepherd Huts
Opposite the pub, five shepherd huts congregate around a pretty pond. The fields beyond offer the perfect backdrop. We were booked into hut number one. The black hut. The one with the wood burning hot tub. Win.
The Merry Harrier shepherd huts are enchanting. They come equipped with everything you’d expect to find in any good hotel room plus a decent measure of quirk. As with all de Savary properties dogs are not only welcomed with open arms but positively encouraged at Merry Harriers.
Shepherd Hut Hygge
We stayed in our shepherd hut for two nights in mid-February. The weather wasn’t the best but with under-floor heating and the fully stocked log basket and wood burner there was no chance of catching a chill. We were snug as your proverbial bug.
I loved the stylish design paired with the vibrant de Savary signature shades and accent colours. There were hints of hygge too, with Scandi style touches, sheepskin covered chairs, soft woollen throws, scatter cushions and even hot water bottles.
The bed was remarkably comfortable with high quality bed linen which was delicious to sink into. I slept incredibly well for the first time in ages.
I loved that the bed faced the windows with views of the hills and the pond outside. The perfect view to accompany that first morning cuppa.
The headboard housed a small nook with USB points so our phones could charge overnight. Two nifty fold-down reading lights were located on each side of the headboard.
The two wardrobes had ample space for our clothes, along with extra blankets which we didn’t need. A hairdryer is provided and a large drawer under the bed was handy for storing our bags.
The kitchen corner has a small fridge stocked with Sussex Downs spring water and a bottle of wine. There were snacks together with tea and coffee, a trendy Smeg kettle and a Nespresso machine. The pub supplied us with fresh milk.
The shepherd huts all come with WiFi, a flat-screen smart TV enabled with Netflix.
The Shepherd Hut en-suite
A spacious, walk-in rainforest shower blasted out steaming hot water and a bottle of multi-purpose shower gel/shampoo/hand wash was provided. There’s also a toilet and small hand basin. Luxurious bathrobes come as standard and the heated towel rail is laden with soft fluffy towels.
Fire Pits and Hot Tubs
Each of the shepherd’s huts has a small patio with two teak loungers set next to a fire pit. Perfect for toasting marshmallows while gazing up into the blackest skies. It’s a Dark Sky area so the stars go on for an eternity.
Hut number one has a rustic, wood-fired hot tub. You’ll need to light the fire a couple of hours in advance to warm the water up but once it’s up to speed it’s perfect for easing weary limbs after a spot of llama trekking. Kindling and logs are provided. Each hut has a parking space alongside.
Rooms in the Inn
If glamping isn’t your thing, there are four rooms upstairs at the Inn and six garden rooms in the pub garden. One actually overlooks the llama field, or maybe these curious creatures overlook the room. Either way the rooms are all as stylish and inviting as the shepherd huts.
Village Spirit Collective: Vann Lane Gin
Merry Harriers offer a range of add-on activities and we were booked in for a ‘Be a Ginfluencer’ session at Village Spirit Collective just a few steps down the lane from the Inn.
A wonderful couple of hours were spent with Ian, the owner, who welcomed us in the best way possible, with a superb Vann Lane gin and tonic.
Ian explained the process of gin-making before helping us blend our own bespoke gin. This started with sampling a large range of botanicals and learning which flavours complement each other and which blends don’t work so well together.
There’s a definite learning curve and massive potential for things to get very messy. After attempting a few blends we decided that Ian’s Vann Lane Community Spirit Gin and Haslemere Gin were far superior so we bought a bottle of each and rolled back to our shepherd hut to get ready for dinner.
Dinner at Merry Harriers
All our meals were enjoyed in the Merry Harriers restaurant where there’s a great gastro pub menu. I’d have been happy with any of the dishes offered and that isn’t often the case.
For starters we dipped into a decadent baked camembert with crusty bread. This was followed by a Thai prawn curry for me and a beautifully cooked steak for Mr Jones. Neither of us had room for dessert.
The low-beamed dining room was lit with fairy lights and candles which created a really cosy ambience.
After dinner we finished our wine in the main bar by the roaring fire where there’s a wide range of local beers on tap and some good conversation. Everyone was really friendly and the community spirit shone through.
After a sound night’s sleep, which I put down to our incredibly comfy bed and heaps of fresh country air, we woke to the call of a roving pheasant outside.
Tea in bed is compulsory on a getaway so we soaked up the gorgeous views as we sipped our tea before meandering over to Merry Harriers for breakfast.
The choice was superb with yoghurt, muesli and fruit compote, danish pastries and porridge. There’s orange juice, tea and freshly brewed coffee too.
If you like a cooked breakfast the menu offers a full English, smoked-salmon and scrambled eggs or mashed avocado and poached egg on toast plus vegetarian options too.
Llama Trekking at Merry Harriers
Fully fuelled after our full-on breakfast we pulled on our wellies and set off to meet the llamas.
At the back of the lovely pub garden is the field and paddock where the llamas hang out – all fourteen of them. Clara, our lovely guide for the trek, introduced us to our walking companions and gave us a short briefing. As we entered the field the inquisitive llamas came over to check us out.
I made friends with Champagne, a handsome young male llama. Mr Jones teamed up with Diesel and along with two other trekkers and llamas, Lorenzo and Guji we all set off.
The llamas definitely know their own minds and there are frequent stops en-route. Fresh green foliage is too good to resist and the llamas make a bee-line for it.
Champagne was particularly fond of stopping for a nibble and then breaking into a bit of a trott to catch up with the rest of the herd. This may have taken me by surprise – they’re quite speedy when they get a gallop on.
He stopped for a roll in the sand and then refused to leave a tasty crop of heather. On reflection I believe the llamas actually took us for a walk instead of the other way round.
The llama trek lasted around two hours and was more of a gentle amble. The llamas are funny creatures, we had a huge amount of fun and the activity left me smiling for the rest of the day.
More Merry Harrier Activities
As well as the llama trekking and overnight ‘Ginflueincer’ experience, Merry Harriers offer a number of other activities including a Doggy Getaway, Romantic Hideaway and the latest addition is SUP and stay with a stand up paddle boarding activity.
Walks and Wanderings
There are plenty of walks and cycling routes in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. You’ll find a guide in your room with directions for ten local walks ranging from 1.5 to 13 miles long. There’s a walk suitable for all abilities.
I can recommend the circular village walk which starts at the kissing gate opposite the pub. The walk takes in St Peter’s churchyard where you can step inside the old hollow yew tree.
You’ll also pass the village cricket ground and Oakhurst cottage which is an old National Trust property.
Stop at the village store to pick up supplies or have a coffee before taking in views across the Weald to the South Downs near to Buss’s Common.
Things to do near Hambledon
The Merry Harriers is located 4-miles south of Godalming which is a nice little town to explore followed by afternoon tea.
Guildford has a pretty high street peppered with half-timbered buildings. There’s good shopping in independent stores and a medieval castle to visit.
South of Hambledon you’ll find the beautiful town of Petworth where you’ll find pretty cobbled streets, and a market square lined with antique shops, cafes and restaurants. Beautiful Petworth House with its Capability Brown landscaped grounds and deer park are worth a visit.
How to get to Merry Harriers
Hambledon is an easy trip from London. By train it’s a 90-minute journey from Waterloo into Godalming station and then a short 4-mile taxi ride.
If you’re driving then there’s plenty of parking opposite the pub and each shepherd hut has its own parking space.
A getaway at Merry Harriers shepherd huts makes for a fabulous off-grid retreat with plenty of fresh air, fun activities and a real taste of village life. I loved the cute shepherd huts and the cosy Inn with its good food and friendliest of staff.
I think booking the five shepherd huts for a girls’ weekend getaway with a group of friends would be huge fun.
The Merry Harriers, Hambledon Lane, Hambledon, Surrey, GU8 4DR
Telephone: (0)1428 682883
Email: [email protected]
Website: Merry Harriers
We were kindly hosted on our visit by Merry Harriers and our stay was organised by CJ Hotel Consultancy. All views and opinions are, however, my own.