The day has come – people wanting a coffee, a pizza or a pint can now finally get inside, out of the cold.
It’s been a while – serious drinkers and foodies would say a long while – but Swindon’s fabulous selection of pubs, bars and restaurants are finally back open for business.
So, before raising a glass, what are the rules for the hospitality sector in England?
- Pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants are allowed to serve customers indoors
- Groups of up to six - or two households of any size - are allowed inside
- Groups seated outside may have up to 30 people
- Landlords are expected to make sure all customers over 16 check in with NHS track and trace, or provide contact details
- People still need to order, eat and drink while seated, where alcohol is served
- When not seated - for example being shown to a table, or going to the toilet - customers must wear face coverings
- Social distancing between groups is encouraged
- Capacity is restricted to what is possible with social distancing and table service
Not quite business as usual yet but it’s a good start, and here are just a few of the places the Visit Swindon team are heading for to make merry.
For starters, try Swindon's very own ‘hidden bar’, in this case housed in the vault of the old post office building in Victoria Road, and named, you guessed it, The Vault! Worth visiting for a great speakeasy atmosphere and killer cocktails.
The Tuppenny pub in Devizes Road has built a reputation as Swindon’s finest specialist purveyor of craft drinks; a veritable emporium of brewed, distilled and fermented greatness, all served up in a cosy space featuring re-purposed and up-cycled furniture with its own, quirky decor, not to mention a cornucopia of old school board games. Hipsters welcome!
Away from Old Town, another pub we really love is Hall & Woodhouse on the canal at Wichelstowe. The food is fine but we especially love the décor. Glazed drinking and dining areas extend along the canal frontage in the manner of a terrace of traditional boathouses, with gabled roofs opening onto the water’s edge. Inside is a juxtaposition of industrial structure and soft furnishings, with walls adorned with boatbuilding, family and brewing heritage images. Coolio!
At the more economical end of the scale, Wetherspoons get a bad press from the cultural intelligentsia, but nobody does value for money like Tim Martin’s national chain, represented in Swindon by The Savoy (housed in an old cinema), The Sir Daniel Arms and The Dockle Farmhouse, all three offering a wide selection of real ales for the connoisseurs.
Other atmospheric locals we like are The Glue Pot in the Railway Village, The Clifton in Old Town, The Blue Boar in Aldbourne, The Red Lion in Avebury, The Plough On The Hill on Marlborough Road, The Beehive in Prospect Hill, The Bolingbroke Arms in Hook, The Dolphin in Rodbourne, The Greyhound in Faringdon Road, The Moonrakers in Cricklade Road, The Plough in Devizes Road, The Royal Oak at Bishopstone, The Bear in Marlborough, The Angel in Purton, The Bakers Arms in Beechcroft Road, The Roaring Donkey in Albert Street, The Wheatsheaf in Newport Street, and The Hop Inn in Devizes Road.
As for food, Swindon’s restaurant scene is nothing if not international, let’s hear it for Italian (Fabio), Greek (Greek Olive), Spanish (Los Gatos), Caribbean (Moshan Island Grill), Brazilian (Rios Brazil), Indian (The Jewel in the Crown) and Nepalese (Yak The Himalayan Kitchen).
If we haven’t featured your own favourite local or eatery, get in touch with Visit Swindon and we’ll give it a shout out. Cheers!