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Secret Drinker at the Kings Arms Hotel, Westerham, near Chartwell

Out and about in the most westerly part of Kent I headed for a watering hole I’ve frequented previously. But, the George & Dragon, a 16th century coaching house in Westerham, was closed for a refurb. I couldn’t wait two weeks for lunch so, given it was hissing down, I quickly crossed the road to the Kings Arms Hotel.

The first thing to say is it’s not often I bring the average age down in a pub these days. I didn’t see any OAP special offers and to call it God’s waiting room might not be entirely fair, but there were swathes of grey hair and a good number of blue rinses.

The age range was confirmed when the ringtone for one guy's mobile blared out the theme tune for Only Fools and Horses.

Kings Arms Hotel in Westerham is a 18-bedroom Georgian coaching inn
Kings Arms Hotel in Westerham is a 18-bedroom Georgian coaching inn

There was a bar to the left and the rest of the place was completely set up for dining so I was hopeful the food in this Greene King pub might be decent.

There looked to be three good looking beers on tap and I asked if I could try the 80 Shilling from the Belhaven Brewery. This 4.2% ale was described as the Burgundy of Scotland, in reality it was 100% vinegar and completely undrinkable. After a little toing and froing the bar staff, dressed head to toe in black, agreed and it was ruled out. Tap two was also rejected on both sides and I fell back on the Green King IPA for £3.79 a pint. I’ve had this a few times and it’s a reasonable, if a little watery-tasting, pint. My SD buddy played completely safe with a pint of Peroni - if they’d got that wrong it would have been time to head home.

We ordered one scampi and chips with peas and one crispy garlic chicken, £9.79 and £9.29 respectively. The dishes were delivered a few moments apart with the scampi arriving first. Then, I got four pieces of chicken on the bones, some green leaves and a small pot of gravy.

If it’s not raining the outside area at the back of the pub is a great place to sit
If it’s not raining the outside area at the back of the pub is a great place to sit
The bar staff should be checking their drinks – the 80 Shilling tasted like vinegar
The bar staff should be checking their drinks – the 80 Shilling tasted like vinegar

It took me several minutes more and quite a lengthy discussion to persuade the waitress this wasn’t the crispy coated chicken and garlic sauce I’d ordered. Finally, having ‘shared’ my friend’s chips the right meal arrived – both dishes were incredibly cool, fairly tasteless and generally underwhelming.

There might be a stack of tables available to diners at the Kings Arms, both inside and out, but if this is representative of the quality I can’t see them being packed out any time soon.

The screen in the bar was showing BBC news on a loop with the sound turned down and even though it was on the channel where someone signs, it was totally pointless. I have no idea why screens are left switched on when there’s nothing worth watching. At least the electronic fruit machine was switched off and there was no sign of pool, darts or any other distractions.

Then, completely out of the blue, we were joined by by far the most interesting visitor to come into the pub. A nine-year-old ball of fluff by the name of Coco made her entrance and was a delight to meet.

Coco, a nine-year-old rescued miniature Pomeranian stole the show
Coco, a nine-year-old rescued miniature Pomeranian stole the show

Canterbury pub to be sold at auction

The large and imposing exterior of the Kings Arms Hotel
The large and imposing exterior of the Kings Arms Hotel

The rescued miniature Pomeranian who’s had six bladder stones removed, captivated regulars and visitors alike as she frolicked around the bar.

There’s very little else of interest to report about this place, except perhaps to say there’s a car park, a decent outside area if it’s not raining, a wine cellar behind glass (which was once the old town jail), a wooden sculpture in one window and one large joke stool – which I’m pleased to report my not-so-tall friend fortunately sat on.

Let’s hope the George & Dragon is back in action very soon and those seeking a decent pub in this part of Westerham have a better option.

Read more Secret Drinker reviews here

113-year-old pub to be sold

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Chartwell, former home of Sir Winston Churchill, is a five minute drive from the Kings Arms (15416230)
Chartwell, former home of Sir Winston Churchill, is a five minute drive from the Kings Arms (15416230)
Classic pub dining – unfortunately the food didn’t live up to the claim
Classic pub dining – unfortunately the food didn’t live up to the claim

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