REVIEW: The fantastic Fox at Willian

The Fox at Willian

The Fox at Willian - Credit: Archant

The village of Willian is one of Hertfordshire’s best kept secrets.

The Fox at Willian guest room entrance

The Fox at Willian guest room entrance - Credit: Archant

It is framed by the handsome Grade II-listed Church of All Saints, peppered with evocative flint and ironstone rubble walls underneath a roof of gunmetal grey Welsh slate.

The hamlet dates back to the Doomsday book, while elements of the structure date back beyond Norman times. There are even five headstones maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, one from World War One and four from the Second World War.

Weeping willows and a small pond complete the bucolic scene opposite, with the deciduous tree believed to have given this quiet place its distinctive name, as Willian is believed to have derived from the name willow.

It is a perfect microcosm of the understated beauty of our county – with a visit to this arcadia not complete without a restorative pint at the local pub, the evocatively-named Fox at Willian.

The 'locals bar' at the Fox at Willian

The 'locals bar' at the Fox at Willian - Credit: Archant

Yet there is now another reason to visit, another secret to be shared.

And that is the newly built rooms which perfectly complement the pub and village – eight bespoke, country-smart bedrooms that await you at The Fox.

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My partner and I visited purely on a restorative basis. As we both lead busy lives a relaxing evening of fine food and drink and a heavenly room to unwind in was a perfect excuse to sample the wonderful facilities.

After being greeted with a jaunty welcome by their superb front of house – whose manner was attentive without ever being cloying – we deposited our bags in our charmingly pastoral-themed room. The decorative logs, and rich, warm brown and beige hues throughout the room made us relax immediately.

The conservatory at the Fox at Willian

The conservatory at the Fox at Willian - Credit: Archant

Each room is beautifully decorated with contemporary furnishings and all the finishing touches for a comfortable stay – big cosy, comfortable beds, powerful walk-in showers, fresh tea and coffee facilities, high spec TVs, wireless and aircon – as well as a splendid free standing bath in the room we stayed in.

The garden rooms with their outside seating areas overlooking the beautiful village church offer the perfect spot to enjoy a morning cup of coffee, evening G&T or favourite tipple. Well behaved four-legged friends are welcome in the garden rooms – teed up for their arrival with dog beds, towels, bowls and treats as standard.

Willian may feel like it is in the heart of our wonderful countryside but it is worth remembering it is fewer than 30 minutes from Kings Cross by train.

Visitors are lucky to have lovely walks from the moment you step outside the beautifully appointed rooms – perfect for dog walkers, strollers or even more adventurous ramblers.

Rooms at the Fox at Willian

Rooms at the Fox at Willian - Credit: Archant

A trip to the Fox works whether you’re looking for somewhere for you or your business client to relax, a base whilst you visit family and friends, or simply to mark a special anniversary – or even if your dining experience is so enjoyable you wish to extend your visit to an overnight stay.

A trip to the buoyant and appropriately-named ‘locals bar’ – full of bonhomie and earthy buzz – and a couple of pints of Adnams Mosaic later, saw us sit down for an eagerly-awaited evening meal.

For starters in the splendidly appointed dining room with its well-appointed conservatory we sampled their curried mussel and saffron chowder, smoked trout potato cake, carrot, cumin and pickled cucumber slaw, and the baked cod supreme with nori and prawn butter.

Both were taste sensations that thinking about even now makes my tastes buds sit up and demand more of the same.

Guest room with roll top bath

Guest room with roll top bath - Credit: Archant

For dinner I opted for the succulent 28-day aged 8oz rib eye steak accompanied with hand cut chips, garlic butter and dressed leaves, while my companion chose the duo of pork, pancetta-wrapped tenderloin.

Both dishes were cooked to perfection – along with a cheeky side of maple syrup and wholegrain mustard chatenay carrots and parsnips.

The wine list was extensive without being overpowering and we chose an elegant and crisp Pinot Grigio with citrus and pear drop flavours.

After a ridiculously restful night in the room we ate a hearty breakfast, served with a smile.

The conservatory at the Fox at Willian

The conservatory at the Fox at Willian - Credit: Archant

Put simply the rooms at The Fox – part of the impressive Anglian Country Inns stable – is a family run business rooted in a love of good food and proper old fashioned hospitality.

From the superb service and top notch chefs, through to the outstanding quality of their suppliers, to the splendid ambiance of the pub and restaurant – everything is geared towards making the ordinary extraordinary.

That same attention to detail is put into every element, from the perfectly endearingly rustic rooms to the wonderful food and drink.

From what we saw and tasted it didn’t matter whether it was their excellent chefs preparing a mouth-wateringly succulent steak to a simple hearty soup, or the attentive bar staff pouring a pint of Adnams Mosaic – everything gets done with a sense of pride and care.

If they continue their stunning work Willian’s best kept secret won’t be a secret for much longer – for a stay at the rooms at the fantastic Fox at Willian should be on everyone’s must-do list this year regardless of whether you’re local or visiting from afar.


*Don’t just take our word for it – The Fox at Willian is recommended by Hardens, is in The Good Food Guide, is an Alastair Sawdays ‘Special Places’ – and has been lauded in the recent Sunday Times’ listing of Best Places to stay.

Layth stayed at the Fox at Willian courtesy of Anglia Country Inns.

To learn more about the acclaimed pubs and restaurants they run throughout our area visit

To book a room or a table at the Fox call 01462 480233 or email

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