When The Queens Arms recently opted to sponsor its own guide dog for the blind, it was the latest in a long line of ideas that show the pub is willing to go the extra mile for customers with canine companions.


Gordon and Jeanette (behind the bar) with head chef Ben Abercrombie and Sawday's MD Toby Sawday

The pub has made it into the top three pubs in Sawday's for its local seasonal and organic produce, while its letting rooms have been awarded five stars by the AA, so you can be sure of top-quality food, as well as rooms fit for a king or queen.


However, that does not stop the pub proudly displaying a sign that welcomes "dogs and muddy boots".

Gordon Reid, who took on the freehold in Corton Denham, Somerset, with his wife Jeanette five years ago, says: "Dog owners are probably some of the friendliest people you will meet on the planet. Some weekends it feels like there are more dogs in here than people."

The pub is in prime walking country, something that attracts guests and their pets from across the country and beyond.

In the dog house

To help cater for them, one of the pub's eight letting rooms is fully equipped for guests who bring their four-legged friends. It features a wooden floor, wet room, dog towel and a bed inside a cage to provide a sleeping option for the pet.

Gordon says: "We have dogs ourselves and we know what it is like when you go somewhere. More places are realising if you restrict the kind of person you get you are narrowing your consumer base and you can't do that any more. In this area everyone has a dog."

There are also bowls of water placed around the pub, dog treats on the bar and a selection of hand-drawn maps in rooms showing the best walks in the area.

But is it really possible to have a high-quality food offer with dogs roaming around the pub? Well, in a word, yes, Gordon says.

"You can do it because the people who have got dogs want to eat two-rosette food and stay in five-star places.

"You occasionally get people who don't like it but you're more likely to get people complaining about kids than dogs. Kids can be noisier but with the dogs you don't even know they are there some of the time."

Naturally, the pub is child-friendly too and provides activity sets to help keep the young ones occupied.

Letting rooms in general have been a huge success since the couple took over. There were originally five but part of The Queens Arms' redevelopment saw staff accommodation converted into three more.

Occupancy rates are high throughout the year but the couple resist the temptation to tinker with pricing at peak times.

"We have a flat rate, which is much easier. The amount it takes to look after the room doesn't change whether it is winter or summer, the food and beer prices don't change, so I don't see why you should drop or raise room prices," Gordon says.

Five-star rooms

Achieving AA five-star status has provided a boost for business but it has not been a simple process. "To get to five stars you need to focus on an incredible amount of details, such as the bed linen you use — it's Egyptian cotton.

"All of the smellies have to be of high quality and there have to be so many chairs and mirrors in the right position.

"When you go to five stars, sometimes people expect a little more from you, which is OK. We have a philosophy where we need to have 20 things that make us different from anyone else in the area and we are constantly reviewing it. It's great to have but I just wish there was an AA rating for rooms with dogs too."

If they introduced one, the chances are The Queens Arms would get five stars for that as well.