Meet the 2018 Dog-friendly Pub Award Winners

Tens of thousands of dog owners have cast their votes as hundreds of pubs across the United Kingdom have been campaigning to clinch the coveted title of Dog-friendly Pub of the Year. Now our pack of expert judges have had their say and we’re ready for the big reveal…

National Winner and East of England Regional Winner – The Dog at Grundisburgh

This year’s Dog-friendly Pub of the Year, as chosen by our panel of pooch and pub loving experts, and you, dog owners of Britain, is a pub that could hardly be more fittingly named. The Dog at Grundisburgh has been crowned this year’s winner. The Dog climbed to the top of the East of England leaderboards and won the hearts of our judges, and it’s not hard to see why. The very image of a perfectly idyllic English village pub, the building itself is painted an oh-so-charming pink, whilst inside the staff provide everything from the basics like water bowls to special touches like dog beds and a box bursting with toys for visiting pooches to play with.

At the heart of every great pub is its community, and the same is true of The Dog, here’s what landlord Eilir had to say about the importance of spending time getting to know their locals:

“We will spend hours chatting to customers about their dogs. Each dog has its own history and we love to hear about it. We have a lot of regular dogs that visit the pub and sometimes they even turn up without their customers! Luckily we know who they belong to and can repatriate them! We see how happy people are when they are able to dine with their pooches (in our bar or restaurant). Dogs are allowed to go anywhere their owners are allowed to go. There is nothing better than seeing people enjoying themselves whilst their dog has its nose in the doggie toy box or relaxing in front of the log burner. And obviously happy dogs = happy owners!”

West Midlands Regional Winner – The Royal Oak

In a battle for the title of the West Midlands Regional Winner, The Royal Oak have fought off fierce competition this year to reclaim their title they originally won back in 2016.

Landlord Alistair hits the proverbial nail on the head with his definition of what dog-friendliness really means:

“It’s so much more than just allowing dogs into certain areas, that to me is “dog tolerant”. We LOVE having dogs in the pub, they’re usually more fun than the humans! We want them to feel this is a home from home but with treats, cool meals and games – a bit like going to your grans and getting spoilt rotten!”

North East Regional Winner – The Keel Row

Keel Row licensee Sharon was delighted to hear the news that her pub had been named the dog-friendliest pub in the North East for a second year running. Dog-friendliness to her is a no-holds-barred approach, meaning that while she’s still in charge at The Keel Row, their doors will always be open to dogs.

“I like to think that people have somewhere that they can go and feel comfortable bringing their dogs with them. People feel guilty going out and leaving their dogs at home and we make it possible for them to bring them with them. No day restrictions and no time restrictions they are part of our customer base and we are happy to see them. I believe we provide everything a dog and their owner needs from water to dog treats to dog blankets and baskets. As long as I am the licensee this will never change.”

London Regional Winner – Hand in Hand

Retaining their title of London’s best Dog-friendly Pub for the third year in a row, Wimbledon favourite the Hand in Hand was the first pub to win the National title back in 2016 when we first launched the Awards.

“This maybe an award for the pub – for us this is an award for our team and amazing customers two and four legged, who are so passionate about their pub being dog friendly, and supportive of all the charity work we do especially in supporting pet charities like the Blue Cross Pet Charity.”

South West Regional Winner – The Halzephron Inn

A new finalist for 2018, The Halzephron Inn boast Cornish coastal views that a few other finalists might be a tad envious of, we certainly are! More importantly than the scenery though is a their warm welcome for all visitors, dogs and humans, here’s what landlady Claire had to say about the difference dog-friendliness makes to their pub:

“Being dog friendly is very important to us, our business is located on the south west coastal path with stunning views. To be able to welcome our furry friends with a bit of refreshment gives owners a reason to head to us.”

Wales Regional Winner – The Bryntirion Inn

Topping the popularity charts back in 2017, the Bryntirion Inn, or The Bryn as it’s lovingly referred to by locals, has clung on to their Wales Regional Winner title despite fierce competition from rival Welsh pubs.

And it’s not hard to see why, rescuing the pub 15 years ago and immediately removing the “no dogs allowed” signs has ushered in a new era of dog-friendly fame for the Bryn. Martin summed up the Bryn’s view on pooch-friendliness for us:

“It’s not about allowing dogs in. It’s about making them feel welcome as part of the family. Every dog that visits us is given a treat by one of us or one of our staff, we always have water bowls available. But above all we pride ourselves in making a fuss of our four legged guests, they usually get their treats before their owners.”

North West Regional Winner – The Maltings

A new finalist for 2018, The Maltings’ General Manager knows that true dog-friendliness goes beyond simply allowing dogs into a pub. Competition between The Maltings and two-time North West winner The Caledonia was stiff, but since taking the management of the new regional champion, James has been working hard to build a pub that locals and visitors would love.

“It goes above and beyond just letting dog owners bring their four legged friends with them. We provide towels, treats and personalised water bowls for every dog and even offer Sunday Roasts for our doggy friends too. Each dog that visits is exactly the same as a customer to us and we want to make sure we please them and treat them the exact same as we do with our customers.”

East Midlands Regional Winner – The Lion at Basford

Our East Midlands regional winner is another familiar name, The Lion at Basford topped the popular vote in 2017 and has campaigned their way to success this year, too. Rosamund, the new general manager, says that to win this award again means an awful lot:

“The pub has always had a ‘pub dog’ and pubs feel more like pubs with a doggo roaming around. Because our location isn’t the best we wanted people to feel like they could drive from wherever to bring their dog for a relaxed pint and bite to eat. Now we’re the Best Dog-friendly Pub in East Midlands for the second year running we’re going to develop a Chef’s Specials menu of cooked food just for the dogs.”

South East Regional Winner – Admiral’s Arm Micropub

Not only has the Admiral’s Arms won in the South East for the first time, they’ve knocked last year’s national winner off the top spot of the South East Leaderboard after a tight race in the popular vote. Pub owner Rachel’s view is that dogs should be allowed everywhere in the pub, just like their owners (well, maybe apart from the kitchen!).

“As dog owners we know how lovely it is to be able to go out and eat and drink with your dog. Not to be confined to special areas or outside. We have lots of dog friendly places to walk nearby, we are by the sea and there are lots of parks nearby, so it is great to be able to take the dog for a walk and finish with a great pint of real ale or cider. A lot of our four-legged customers now won’t let their owners walk past [without coming in]!”

Northern Ireland Regional Winner – O’Hares Lounge Bar

Northern Ireland’s most popular dog-friendly pub this year is a new finalist, and is another pub with a location that’ll have most other pub landlords drooling with envy. Situated between the Irish Sea and the stunning Silent Valley Mountain Park, it’s no wonder why people love this part of the UK so much. And their love for dogs is evident, too!

“Dogs are a friend to all and you wouldn’t leave your friend outside! So to all of us here at O’Hare’s we believe, being dog-friendly is about meeting the needs of Dogs and ensuring they too receive as much customer care as any other! Because it is about inclusion. Including your puppy or dog in family gatherings, days out and knowing that they too can participant with you.

Scotland Regional Winner – The Weston Tavern

Another new finalist for 2018, The Weston Tavern in East Ayrshire is what proprietor John calls a “small village pub” rather than a large chain. Running a successful pub has been a lifelong dream for John so winning means the world to him. Last year John’s dream of owning a local of his own was realised, dog-friendliness was a no-brainer for him, since he grew up visiting a pub with his father and their dog.

“Dogs really are man’s best friend and I could never imagine not being able to walk into a pub with Una nor not to have any dogs in my Bar. Both go hand in hand.”

Yorkshire Regional Winner – The Last Post

A new entry in the finalists this year, The Last Post is a dog-friendly local “social house” nestled in a small village with a vision. Landlord Andy says he wants to create a dog-friendly beer garden and begin hosting doggy events, too. He’s even recently brought home a pooch of his own, too, so now the regulars will have another pooch-pal to hang out with. Andy gave us this snapshot of what a doggy day at The Last Post is like:

“I was brought up with dogs and they always made home feel like home and I wanted to bring the same feeling to my pub, a nice homely feeling with dogs been petted and lying in front of the fire. Most of our pack drag their owners into the pub whether or not they wanted to come in. We have a pug called Frank who is one of our regulars who likes to sit on a bar stool at the bar chatting with his mates.”

Congratulations to the 2018 winners and all the brilliant pubs who took part last year in the Dog-friendly Pub Awards!