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The Bull on Bell Street reopens after refurbishment

By Harry Whittle
16 May 2022
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The Bull on Bell Street in Henley-on-Thames has reopened after a major refurbishment that is set to make it the top spot in town for al fresco dining and drinking this summer and beyond.

The makeover, devised by Brakspear's in-house design team, has created a large, stunning outdoor space behind the pub, now called The Courtyard. With luxuriant plantings, a water feature, outdoor fireplace and plenty of relaxed furniture, it's ideal for chilling out in the sunshine and, thanks to the new retractable roof, the al fresco fun can continue - whatever the weather!

Inside, a colour palette of sage green and coral tones appears across painted woodwork, bold floral and botanical wallpapers and soft furnishings. Plants and flowers are dotted throughout, and particularly in the Conservatory, creating a seamless link between indoor and outdoor spaces.

A rowing boat, paddles and nautical stripes are a nod to Henley's rowing heritage, while designs featuring bees and honeycombs are a reference to Honeycomb Houses, the group of Brakspear managed pubs to which The Bull belongs.

Dining and drinking

With the new design comes a new all day dining offer, with a selection of tempting dishes for every occasion, produced from top quality ingredients sourced primarily from the UK. From opening at 10.00 am, there's a tasty Brunch menu that offers a great start to any day. Later, main courses include steaks, fish, burgers and sourdough pizzas, as well as vegetarian dishes, while lighter options include salads, filled ciabattas and sharing boards. A changing specials board offers a selection of dishes created from seasonal ingredients, while the Sunday Roast menu offers four meat and one veggie options. Finally, children can choose from their own menu, and keep busy with an activity pack. 

Drinking is as much a part of The Bull as dining, so there's a wide choice of tipples, from Brakspear cask ales to a carefully curated wine list, a long list of gins and other spirits, and selected cocktails including the pub's Signature Cocktail, the Bees Knees. Guests choosing not to drink alcohol can enjoy a selection of mocktails and other premium low/ no-alcohol and soft drinks.

Coffee lovers will love the new Honeycomb Houses blend, created by artisan coffee experts Wogan Coffee. A delicious and invigorating 100% Arabica blend with notes of chocolate, sugar and hints of fruit and berries, it doesn't just taste great, it's also doing good, thanks to a partnership with Teach a Man to Fish, a charity equipping young people in the developing world with vital life skills. 

Celebrating and staying over

Celebrations at The Bull just got better, with a new private dining room that's perfect for birthdays, anniversaries or other special occasions, as well as business meetings or dinners. With stunning floral decor, exposed beams and feature furniture, the room can accommodate up to 22 guests.

Guests wanting to stay overnight after an evening at The Bull can book into The Doll's House, a townhouse behind the pub with four boutique bedrooms and its own garden terrace - ideal for a lazy breakfast. Further accommodation is opening this summer in The Old Coach House, with five bedrooms and a secret back door entrance into the pub. 

Live acoustic music will take place in The Bull regularly, with a new baby grand piano in the bar area ready for some of the talented performers set to entertain guests.

A haven for Henley

Honeycomb Houses operations manager Dean Bigley said: "We're delighted with the makeover, especially the new Courtyard, which we think is the best al fresco space in Henley. The new interior looks sensational and the menu takes our food and drink offer up to a new level.

"The Bull is now a haven, away from the bustling High Street, offering guests a unique space to enjoy brunch, coffee, a bite to eat, a pint after work or a special occasion meal. It's a great place to chill out with friends, or bring your laptop and work from our beautiful space instead of your home for a change.

"The whole team, including the new members who have joined for the reopening, have gone through extensive training on the new menus and customer service, so guests can be sure they'll have an amazing time with us." 

The Bull on Bell Street originally opened in 2013 and stands just yards from the site of the original Brakspear brewery, dating back to 1779. It is part of the Honeycomb Houses group of pubs owned by Brakspear, whose head office is in Henley, behind the Bull. Honeycomb Houses includes 10 pubs in the Cotswolds and in locations around Brakspear's Henley heartland, as well as one pub in West Sussex.