The Royal Oak
111 High Street
Open all day
The Royal Oak
This pub was formerly a Rat and Carrot. Now reverted to its former name, it has a more family feel to it. Marlborough gets a lot of tourists as it is very picturesque and this pub caters for this sort of market. The real ales on offer were Abbot Ale and IPA from Greene King plus a guest. They are kept well and are not 'too' expensive - remember the tourists. The food is from a set menu (though specials are available) and is traditional pub food with children's portions available. The decor has changed from the fake 'olde worldy' old bikes, baskets, pictures, metal advertising hoardings, etc. to a more upmarket feel. The seating is at dark wood tables and chairs. There is one central bar that snakes round both sides of this horseshoe shaped pub. At the back are the toilets and a pool table - the gents is opposite the kitchen, and one hopes hygiene is impeccable here. The disabled access is good to the bar and eating areas, but there is a step or two up to the toilet. At the back there are a couple of picnic tables, but the view is of walls only. No accommodation here.
This pub has changed a substantial amount in the last year. They seem to have 'refurbished' with a modernisation, but the outcome seems to be a lot less successful and there is a lack of atmosphere now. There are a lot of steps in this pub, as it is on several levels, but disabled access is sufficient. There is a disabled toilet, but unfortunately they can't find the key. The bar is central and circular, therefore accessible from all sides, it has been cleaned since the summer, which is definitely an advantage. The toilets are horrific.
The food menu has changed (served 12-6), there is a 'commercialised' menu of microwave/fry foods, which is quick and effective, but does give the place a 'fast-food chain' atmosphere. The staff are perhaps some of the worst I have witnessed. Perhaps this is due to the fact the management has changed so frequently in the past 2 years, resulting in a lack of trust and training. Either way, the standard and quality of this bar has dropped dramatically, a poor reflection on Greene King.
The best thing about The Royal Oak, is that it is within walking distance of some nice restaurants and bars in the town. (Customer Review - 2002)
On a day out to walk the Ridgeway recently, myself and my family had the misfortune to go into the Royal Oak, looking for a meal after a tiring day. The staff here were surly, but as there were no other pubs open at the time (few in the area seemed to do food all day) we sat down and ordered from their (rather uninspired) menu. The rest of my family had poor to average food delivered (small portions, the food looked straight out of a bag), but I had ordered a 1/2 a chicken breast. When the chicken arrived, the white of its uncooked skin was only sullied by a smattering of orange, that may or may not have been cheap barbecue sauce. After one bite of the chicken, a bite that tasted barely warm and far too tough, I pushed it aside with distaste. Upon talking to the lady behind the bar, she refused to accept that it was uncooked, despite its obvious appearance to be so and its taste. After my family had finished their respective meals (I did not reorder, and no refund was offered) a part of the fish from a meal was wrapped up to be given to our dog (waiting patiently in the car, a tradition of ours). The dog would not touch the fish, for the first time I think in his whole life. Normally he loves cod.
I cannot speak for the experiences of others, but we found this pub a nightmarish version of JD Wetherspoons - fast and efficient, without the taste or the politeness. An atmosphere full of smoke and grease, rather than relaxing. And no value placed upon customers at all.
This establishment was refurbished November 2002, now of a much higher standard. New menu, friendly staff and high standards. A great example of a Greene King site! (7/7/03)
By far the busiest and best in Marlborough. Great service, brilliant staff and no change of management for at
least two years. Good quality food. (Henry George - 14/12/03)
The staff were definitely the worst feature - I do not expect to have a driving licence or passport demanded from me before I have even got to the bar to order a drink. If Identification is required for some reason (In my case I can't see why this should be necessary - I am 30!) it should be asked for in a polite and subtle manner - not rudely demanded. To have the identification proffered (work ID and Credit cards) rejected and this followed by, "well, if you were over 18, then you'd have a driving licence" I found extremely insulting. There are many reasons why people over the age of 18 might not drive, to discriminate against these is preposterous. I, along with my friends (who do drive and showed their licences) promptly left the establishment and we won't be returning - despite the fact that we all used to be regulars (Ironically from the ages of 15 to 17)! (21/7/04)
Under police guidelines staff in pubs should only accept a driving license or passport. (19/2/05)
Greene King IPA
Redlands, Elcot Lane,
SN8 2BA (01672 515477)
S: £35-£45; D/T £50-£60.