Nestled in the sleepy rural hamlet of Hambledon in the Surrey Hills, and reached via a winding country lane, is the 16th-century Merry Harriers Inn.
During my visit, I experienced a spot of luxury glamping with a cosy two-night stay in a luxurious shepherd hut with a wood-burning hot tub.
I went on a fabulous llama trek through the local woods, took part in gin-tasting with a local distiller and enjoyed delicious pub grub at the Merry Harriers. I also explored the local village of Hambledon with a circular walk starting and finishing at the pub.
In this post, I share the details of my stay and the activities I experienced, and I hope it inspires you to book a shepherd hut stay for yourself.
Helpful information about the Merry Harriers Inn
Getting to the Merry Harriers
The Merry Harriers is in Hambledon, with the nearest local train station at Witley (South Western railway). I travelled by car, which, in my opinion, is the best way to visit if you are coming from a distance and with so much to see and do in Surrey, a car will allow you to move between places of interest more easily.
The nearest main town is Godalming which has train connections from London Waterloo. The journey will take under one hour, followed by a taxi from Godalming to the Merry Harriers, making it the perfect weekend getaway from the capital.
For a greener arrival, come by bike. Cyclists are a familiar sight at the inn, along with hikers who love the countryside location and the numerous footpaths and trails that run through the Surrey Hills.
The Merry Harriers Inn, Hambledon Road, Surrey, GU8 4DR
Telephone: 01428 682883
Who would enjoy a stay at the Merry Harriers?
Couples looking for a cosy romantic retreat will find that the luxurious shepherd huts tick all the boxes. The shepherd hut with a hot tub is a must for special occasions.
Exclusive glamping getaways for groups of friends or family can be arranged by booking out all five shepherd huts.
Outdoor enthusiasts who want to explore the Surrey Hills and Surrey Downs will find a stay in a shepherd hut or one of the garden rooms the perfect base.
A detailed walk and cycle guide available at the Merry Harriers outlines ten trails in and around the area, including two walks I have done, one around Hambledon and the Hidden Hindhead Trail. Both are approximately 3 miles long, so they are good for those seeking a gentler hike.
The 14-mile circular Guildford trail is a tougher hike for those looking for a challenge.
Dog lovers will also enjoy a stay here, and pooches are welcome to stay in all the accommodations. The bar has doggy treats for four-legged guests to add to their enjoyment of a doggie getaway with their humans.
A review of my two-night shepherd hut stay with activities and dining
A warm welcome at the Merry Harriers Inn
Upon my arrival at the Merry Harriers Inn, I received a warm welcome from the manager, Martine and Missy, the dog.
My first impression was that the pub had retained its traditional English heritage with chunky wooden tables, silver candlesticks and historic paintings adorning the walls. An open fire crackled in the hearth, giving it a warm homely feeling, and I knew immediately I would like it here.
I looked around the bar and restaurant area and discovered that the pub has a long history dating back to the 1600s. This is noticeable by the timeline of the previous landlords’ names written on the walls.
I was interested to see the old English names dating back to the 1600s, such as Absalom Bone, Laurence Lickfold and Marshall Savidge Yeomans.
Sadly the current landlord Peter De Savary passed away a week before my visit, but his name will be added to the wall, and his legacy will forever be remembered.
Arriving at my shepherd hut
Check-in was quick, and Martine led me across the road from the pub into a grassy area close to the car park. It is a charming spot with five brightly coloured shepherd huts, and a small pond lit with fairy lights in the evenings.
My home for the two nights was going to be the black shepherd hut with a wood-burning hot tub.
Maxine informed me that the wood-burning hot tub takes a few hours to heat up once the fire gets going and that kindling and wood are provided and re-stocked during a stay, meaning the hot tub can be used as often as you wish.
Once it’s warm, it is the perfect place to relax in your outdoor space, do a spot of stargazing and enjoy a G and T from the local Vann Lane Distillery next door!
Outside the hut, there are two wooden loungers and a fire pit for roasting marshmallows (a treat provided during your stay). Cosy blankets are also provided for sitting outside in the colder months.
Sadly, the weather didn’t play ball during my November stay, meaning I didn’t get to experience that little bit of magic. Still, I did manage to scoff the marshmallows with my hot chocolate while I listened to the rain snuggled up in my cosy shepherd’s hut, so I was happy!
Private parking is also available at the side of your shepherd hut, so you won’t have to carry your belongings from the car park.
Stepping into the shepherd hut was a real WOW moment for me; considering its size, there was so much to take in.
The interior layout design is incredible, filled with everything you could want to have a magical break at any time of the year.
Vibrant soft fabrics add colour to the shepherd hut with a cute llama theme on the cushions and ornaments, a nod to the herd of llamas who live at the back of the pub.
A large hand-crafted wooden double bed takes centre stage, while two chairs and a footstool, complete with sheepskin throws, add a Scandinavian hygge vibe to the hut.
There is also a wall-mounted TV, which I watched from bed by swivelling it around and putting my pillows with the cushions at the foot – perfect!
There is also a small kitchen area complete with a fridge and Nespresso coffee maker, and an en-suite shower room with a decent-sized power shower that is better than I have used in plush hotel rooms!
As Snug as a Bug in a Rug
Underfloor heating and a wood-burning stove ensure the hut stays toasty warm even on the coldest days. I can vouch for that, as I am somewhat of an ice maiden, but I felt lovely and snuggly during my November stay.
For summer days in the U.K., when the temperature occasionally rises into the 30s, I spotted an electric fan to keep you cool.
Cute touches like a bottle of wine in the fridge and a hot water bottle to cuddle in bed make this Surrey staycation one you won’t forget in a hurry.
The only things I couldn’t find in the hut were an umbrella or a torch, which would have been helpful during my stay, so make sure to bring your own if visiting in the darker, wetter months.
Time For Bed
Sleeping in an unfamiliar bed can make or break a stay, so I am pleased to report that the bed in my shepherd hut was one of the best I have tried out (and I have tried a lot!)
For me, the mattress was perfect- not too soft or too firm. It was dressed in luxurious bed linen, sumptuous pillows, a woollen throw, and cushions, allowing me to sleep like a baby.
The mattress’s frame is also impressive, and a small feature is the ingenious built-in side lights, which activate by pulling them down (off) or up (on). No more fumbling for a light switch in the dark – brilliant! A small cubby hole is also built into the headboard so you can have your bits and bobs near you, including a built-in plug socket with USB ports.
I also liked how the bed had been placed in the hut so that the foot end was under the window rather than the headboard being there. This meant that in the morning, I could raise the blinds and view the pond and trees while sitting in bed with my morning cuppa – life can be so tough!
Dining at the Merry Harriers Inn
On my visit, I ate two evening meals, two breakfasts and one lunch, and everything was of a good standard.
Dining is in the restaurant or bar area, and in the evenings, the pub can get lively with the local residents, especially on bridge and quiz nights, giving the pub a real community feel.
During the day and at breakfast, it is quieter and caters for guests, walkers and cyclists, and visitors arriving for llama treks and lunch.
Lunch and Dinner
The Merry Harriers serves up typical country pub fayre comprising firm favourites such as liver pate and toast, seasonal soup, shepherd’s pie (well, that had to be on the menu) and, of course, that great British dish, fish and chips.
It’s good, honest food like your mum used to make, and the portions are substantial, perfect after a llama trek or a long walk or cycle in the surrounding countryside. I thoroughly enjoyed my three courses accompanied by the house white.
The wine list has a good selection, including the De Savary selection with wines from Argentina, France, and locally from the Albury Estate. One of the wines is the Silent Pool Rose, which was served on the royal barge to celebrate the Queen’s diamond jubilee in 2012.
Cocktails, including espresso martinis and a couple of Merry Harrier’s specials, are also on the menu. I didn’t try one myself, but if they are as good as the food, you are on to a winner.
Several gluten-free options include a prawn curry, baked Camembert and shepherd’s pie. And for vegans, options include a chickpea and sweet potato curry and a chickpea and butternut squash veggie burger. Finish with a delicious pub pud, including fruit crumble, sticky toffee pud or spotted dick!
For overnight stays, cooked breakfast includes dishes such as porridge (delicious with lashings of honey) or a full English with a vegetarian option in addition to toast, juices and pastries.
Activities at the Merry Harriers
One of the unique things to do in the Surrey Hills is to go llama trekking, and whether you are a guest or a day visitor at the Merry Harriers, this is a fun activity to participate in.
Meet the llamas behind the pub and go on one of the llama experiences, including picnic treks and twilight treks.
You can read here about my llama trekking experience at the Merry Harriers.
The Vann Lane Gin micro-distillery is next door to the Merry Harriers, where a Be a Ginfluencer tasting session can be organised during your stay.
I met Ian, the gin master, who explained how gin was made and flavoured. I was then welcomed with a signature Vann Lane gin and tonic with lashings of ice and garnish and settled down to taste individually distilled botanicals to find my favourites.
It was a fun session, and I discovered I preferred floral botanicals, including lavender, rose and violet. I also liked sweet liquorice and herbal rosemary.
I then combined a few of my favourites to see what they are like mixed. It’s quite a chemistry lesson but a lot more fun than being back at school!
The distillery offers a few gin experiences, including a 30-minute gin tour with tasting, the hour-long Ginfluencer Teaser, which I took part in and Be a Ginfluencer, which allows you to create your own gin and lasts between 2- 3 hours. Further details can be found on the Vann Lane Website.
At the end of your experience, you can buy some gin to take home. I chose the Winter Spirit with warming notes of ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and the toffee apple gin liqueur because it tasted delicious. Ian assured me it also tastes great poured over ice cream, which I’m eager to try!
A Circular Walk around Hambledon
There are many walks in the Surrey Hills, and I chose the circular walk through Hambledon. The pathway starts in the Merry Harriers car park behind the village noticeboard.
I followed the directions in my Merry Harriers walking guide, which took me first to St Peter’s Church, through open fields and wooded areas, and then to Hambledon village cricket green.
By the green is Oakhurst Cottage, a National Trust property dating from the 1800s and restored to depict the dwelling of a labourer in Victorian times.
It was having work done, so it was shut on my visit, but it is an interesting little building to see.
Across from the cottage is Hambledon’s small village store, where I stopped for a coffee break before continuing my walk.
I then followed the pathway to the side of the store, which took me to St Dominic’s school.
From there, I took the left-hand trail up the hill and arrived at the spectacular viewpoint near Buss’s Common, from where I could see across the Weald to the South Downs.
I thoroughly enjoyed this walk and found it the perfect way to spend a few hours in the Surrey Hills during my shepherd hut stay. It took me around 2 hours, including my coffee break.
Places to visit in the Surrey Hills (with driving times)
Hydons Ball and Heath – 5 mins drive – A woodland walk to a hillside memorial to Octavia Hill, the founder of the National Trust, overlooking the Surrey Hills.
Winkworth Arboretum – 8 min – This scenic National Trust-preserved woodland is on a hill with a lake and wildflowers.
Ramster Gardens – 10 mins – Beautiful gardens known for their stunning azaleas and rhododendrons.
Watts Gallery Artist’s Village – 15 min – This is an art gallery exhibiting a collection of works by Victorian painter G.F. Watts.
Devil’s Punchbowl – 18 min – The Devil’s Punch Bowl is a 282.2-hectare woodland area with numerous walks and bike trails.
Waverley Abbey Ruins – 18 mins – 900-year-old ruins of England’s first Cistercian monastery.
Loseley Park – 20 mins – Stately 16th-century manor house and grounds with guided tours.
Petworth – 22 mins – a charming Surrey town named one of England’s top towns for antique shops and dealers.
Guildford – 25 mins – Surrey’s main town with a medieval castle and bustling high street.
Shere – 30 mins – Quintessentially English village and setting for the film The Holiday.
Would I recommend a stay at the Merry Harriers to a friend?
Yes, I would, and I already have! For me, a 2-night stay in a shepherd’s hut is the perfect length of time to relax and recharge your batteries.
The Merry Harriers is in a beautiful part of Surrey and has a friendly country vibe, lovely staff, great food, and a llama herd. What more could you want?
For more information and booking options, please visit The Merry Harriers Inn and llama trekking website.
My stay in a shepherd hut and activities and meals at The Merry Harriers were complimentary for the purpose of this review and organised by C J Hotel Consultancy. As always, my thoughts and comments are entirely my own and without bias.
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