Heartwood Collection opens first pub with rooms

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Expanding estate: Dorking pub launches after £4m makeover
Expanding estate: Dorking pub launches after £4m makeover

Related tags Heartwood Collection Property Multi-site pub operators

Heartwood Collection has launched its first pub with rooms, the White Horse in Surrey, after a £4m refurbishment.

The historic Grade-II-listed building was acquired by the business in 2023, and dates back to the 13th​ century.

Located on Dorking high street, the coaching inn now has 56 rooms designed by Inge Watrobski and a 100-cover food-led pub.

Speaking to The Morning Advertiser,​ Heartwood Inns chief executive Richard Ferrier said he was “very proud” of the team, and the opening also marked a “momentous point” for the company’s history.

He said: “We’ve bitter off a big project because it’s 56 bedrooms, so it’s not a small undertaking for our first stab.

“The local community in Dorking are so excited for us to be there. It’s such a well-known pub locally, and the opening has created a real buzz about it, but also people are really proud to see the pub reinvigorated and they’re really taken us in.”


The pub now has a sheltered courtyard for outdoor dining and drinking, as well as bike racks and a dog shower for muddy paws.

The company bought the pub in 2022, and Ferrier said it was drawn to the “beautiful, old coaching inn space, directly onto the high street”.

He said: “What really excited us was how we could transform the downstairs space into a beautiful Heartwood Inn pub.”

The revamp includes a new bar area and new floors, but Ferrier said care has been taken to preserve the building’s original features.

He said: “When we acquire a property we like to try and dial up the lovely historic features rather than remove them.

“You couldn’t ask for a better canvas to be able to put your pub stamp into – it’s just a beautiful building.”


Surrey is an area the Heartwood Collection knows well, with several pubs in the area. Ferrier said the company had always thought that Surrey Hills was somewhat underserved of good pubs and good places to stay.

The White Horse is the Group’s first pub with rooms under its plans to grow to over 60 sites by 2027 with a turnover of £133m. Heartwood has already confirmed four other pubs with rooms sites are to open in 2024.

So, the pub fits in geographically with the Heartwood Collection brand, and also with its growth strategy. Ferrier said: “Put all those things together, you've got beautiful property, a really underserved but affluent town, and you've got lots of things for people to do around that fit with an overall overnight experience. It's quite a potent mix, really.”

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The White Horse was frequented by Jane Austen and Charles Dickens and is believed to be where the author wrote his first ever novel, the Pickwick Papers.

The celebrations kicked off with the official launch party, held on Monday 26 February, which saw a coach and white horses travel the streets of Dorking and guests serenaded by a Victorian choir. 

Head chef Ganesh Devadiga will create seasonal menus offering an elevated take on classic British pub food.

Food will stay core to the business, with the rooms expected to drive trade to the restaurant space.


The 13th century inn has several dog-friendly rooms and a ‘stick library’ – allowing pups to select their favourite stick to chew on from a collection picked up from the nearby countryside and a book swap in the pub for humans.

Guests can choose from a range of rooms, from a ‘Snug’ room (starting at £100 per night) to a ‘Really Fancy’ room (priced from £149 per night).

Each room features rainfall showers, coffee machines, Bramley bathroom products, and home-baked treats on arrival.

There are also family-friendly rooms on offer.

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The team behind the pub has put together a week-long list of activities to celebrate the reopening of the venue and its storied history.

This includes pup portraits for dog parents with a photographer, wine tasting with local vineyard Denbies, gin sampling with Dorking-based Silent Pool Gin and live music.

The celebrations kicked off with the official launch party, held on Monday 26 February, which saw a coach and white horses travel the streets of Dorking and guests serenaded by a Victorian choir. 

The four other pubs Heartwood Collection will open in 2024 are the Rope & Anchor, Emsworth, the Coat & Bear, Newbury, the White Hart, Lewes and the Royal Forest, Epping Forest.

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