M40, Junction 4; 10 minutes
Free WiFi for visitors
Vegetarian or vegan options
Parking available onsite
A cracking country pub, the Royal Oak stands at the edge of the Chilterns, not far from the Thames-washed town of Marlow. It’s informal yet stylish with rugs flung over tiled floors, scrubbed pew seats and dogs asleep by the wood burner. The garden is beautiful, big enough to lose your kids in and perfect for slothful lunches in summer. Keep a lookout for red kites overhead.
There’s a wonderful sense of a local economy here: bees bob about in the garden to make the pub’s honey and ingredients are foraged from the hedgerows or swapped with local allotment holders. Food is uniformly excellent and moves with the seasons – try the bubble and squeak with bacon and hollandaise or pan-roast Devon hake fillet with creamed spinach and salt fish fritters. And there are dedicated menus for vegan, dairy-, and gluten-free diets.
Before you depart take a stroll through the beech trees of Marlow Common, where you’ll find trenches used for practice during the First World War.