As we set out from London on a sunny June Saturday morning, I did ask myself whether staying in Amersham counted as a weekend break. Because, let’s face it, as the last stop on the Metropolitan line, Amersham feels more like it should be part of London’s far spread suburbs than a countryside town.
But then we arrived in this bewitchingly pretty English market town, and I did not regret my decision for a second.
Here are City Turtle’s reasons why spending a weekend in Amersham is well worth it:
1) Ease of getting here. We drove as our friends had a car, and it didn’t take more than an hour from Fulham (with a bit of traffic). But as mentioned, the Metropolitan line takes you straight into Amersham-on-the-Hill (the new town) from central London, so it’s ideal for those of you who don’t drive or own a car and it will again take less than an hour. From Amersham-on-the-Hill you can take a 5 minute taxi ride to Old Amersham, which is where you want to be.
2) The Crown Inn. Famed for featuring as the hotel in Four Weddings and a Funeral, where Hugh Grant first succeeds to charm Andy McDowell (in room 101), this delightful 16th century coaching inn recently had a multi-million pound refurbishment and is now the place to stay in Amersham. With interiors done by the famed Ilse Crawford (whose portfolio includes Soho House New York and the Grand Hotel Stockholm), this charming boutique hotel has a contemporary design, but has retained its original features which make it so unique. We stayed in the Main Inn rooms (ask for the room with the 16th century wall paintings still visible), which are compact but super cosy, with huge beds, rainshowers (though we struggled with the hot water) and White Company products. It’s worth stretching the budget to stay in their Courtyard Suite, complete with four poster bed and roll top baths. The service was a bit hit and miss, but the value (especially considering the many complimentary add ons) is exceptional. Book through Mr & Mrs Smith and receive a free bottle of champagne. Rooms from £115 per night.
3) It’s a gourmet town. Foodies will not be disappointed. For lunch we headed to Gilbey’s, which was conveniently located opposite The Crown Inn (everything is walkable, or you can use the Crown Inn’s bikes). Gilbey’s is an unassuming place, a cross between pub and restaurant, with a small but green terrace where we ate. We had not expected the food to be quite so good. From their ‘One Course Lunch Menu’ (£14.50) we went for the Steak and the Treacle cured Loch Duart salmon with rye toast. Recommended.
We booked dinner at the Crown Inn’s restaurant, which came highly recommended. We had a number of their (excellent) bites in their pretty courtyard, and then moved inside for the mains and pudding. Everyone was happy with their choices – from the lamb rump to the sausage and mash. Simple, hearty and delicious. As were their puddings. And the bill came to about £40 per person, which considering the standard and two bottles of wine, is great value.
4) It’s easy on the eye. As mentioned, it’s understandable why Amersham has got such a good name and I’m surprised more tourists don’t head here. It has all the characteristics of a beautiful English market town, with a charming, well-maintained high street teaming with antique shops, restaurants and cafes. For those who want more action, there are plenty of walking and biking routes in the surrounding area.
5) It’s great to combine with a visit to Windsor or Clivedon House. If you’ve got a car, I’d recommend stopping off at Windsor on the way back – which is what we did. We walked the ‘Long Walk’, which was lovely (despite the rain) and had a seriously good lunch at the Bel & the Dragon gourmet pub. In better weather I’ve been recommended to pass by Clivedon House, for a walk through its famed gardens, or for High Tea at its Relais & Chateau restaurant (book well in advance). Budget-allowing you can also stay the night here (rooms from £455).
Photos belong to the Crown Inn, or my own, or from my Instagram.