Britain’s most family friendly pub overjoyed with their amazing win

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Fun with the family: the Onslow Arms pub garden
Fun with the family: the Onslow Arms pub garden

Related tags Great british pub awards West sussex Family pub Beer

Great British Pub Awards 2021 winner for Best Family Pub, the Onslow Arms in Loxwood, West Sussex, showcased the important family values needed to embrace customers of all ages with beautiful canal side gardens, play areas and livestock within its premises.

The awards were held virtually on 28 September 2021, with Radio DJ Scott Mills as the host, live from a pub in London. 

Licensee of the Onslow Arms, Rob Barr, said: “The values I believe in get bled into the team, customers our guests and anyone that comes into contact with us.

“For me it is about how you embody those family values and bring your character and family into the pub, because they are who you do it for at the end of the day.”

Welcoming all ages

Catering for families with young children is imperative when running a family pub, however, in Barr’s opinion, providing for a variety of ages and families goes beyond providing highchairs and entertainment for children but diversity and ensuring a warm welcome for all ages are key to attracting the family market.

Barr said: “I firmly believe in delivering a memorable experience to all of our guests and it’s about how we tailor those experiences depending on what type of group you have come in.

“Family make ups are traditionally small children, we do think of play areas, but actually it’s about how you harness all of those ages throughout because you might have an elderly or middle-aged family but of course there are a lot of young families, so it’s being able to offer diversity, which is what I believe we offer, we don’t just pigeonhole the bracket of family into two adults and x number of young children.”

“We have our beautiful canal garden on the Wey and Arun canal, which has boat trips for all ages, we have the now very famous goats over in our family garden with a play area, a chill out space and a green area for children to run about and then we’ve got the indoor areas which are much more traditional but again, have all the facilities such as baby chance and easy access, so any family at any ability level can come enjoy themselves and we make a big thing of that.”

Barr added working with local attractions and creating synergy between the pub and the local community can help draw families to an establishment: “We work very closely with the Wey and Arun canal trust.

Prestigious Award

“It’s not tied to a specific age range its tied more to a wider family demographic, we have to start being a bit more creative about how we attract families, especially with all the external influences going on at the moment such as rising inflation, we’ve just come out of the petrol crisis as well so I think there is that creativity we need to bring in to ensure families are attracted to coming and seeing us.”

While Barr is the first generation of publicans in his family, his families background has always centred around serving the public, his mother was a nurse and his father was in the army so winning the award for best family pub has been extra special for the Onslow Arms.

He said: “I’ve got two young girls myself so to know all the hard work everybody has put in, all the sacrifice and trials and tribulations we’ve had as well, it’s amazing to win such a prestigious award, to be able to pop on the front of the pub and really show we are the best pub for families and we will welcome all ages.

“Thank you to the judges, I wish everybody every success after such a challenging period, we are coming out of one challenge and coming into a new one but pubs have stood in our country for hundreds of years and are such an integral part and fabric of our culture, they will continue to stand for as many years as they already have, we just have to now come together, adapt and embrace what that new future looks like for us all.”

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