Secret Drinker reviews The Red Lion Hotel in Spalding
When telling friends I’d be kicking my heels around Spalding for an hour or so in an upcoming evening, one piped up with ‘you really ought to try the Red Lion’.
As I pride myself on not being one to turn down a challenge, especially one featuring a venue from the Good Beer Guide, my arm was twisted with the kind of ferocious force one would need to snap a particularly weak twig.
After hearing good things I was looking forward to this one.
First impressions were good, even on a miserably wet evening, as the beautiful Grade II-listed building stands out in the town centre market place.
And if the venue’s good enough to attract the smokers huddled by the entrance, dodging the rain with little shelter from the elements, then it can’t be bad.
More stories like this delivered straight to your inbox every morning - sign up to The Briefing here.
Upon entry the punters – seemingly all middle aged men in their jeans, brown shoes and shirts – turned in unison to see who this stranger was, making me feel a little too much like Edward Woodward in The Wicker Man.
But in no time they realised I was of no interest and went back to their conversations, carried out in intriguingly calm volumes.
The staff were polite enough. A gent and a lady offered a hello but nothing more by the way of friendly patter, and with no stools around the nice old fashioned corner bar I took the hint, collected my Timothy Taylor’s Knowle Spring, and found a table.
The Red Lion is a nicely presented pub, clean, cosy and warm with a few Halloween decorations around the place (this review took place in late October, I have no reason to believe the owners have a thing for the occult).
The traditional red carpet, chairs and stools gathered around sturdy wooden tables and nice large bay windows allowing you to people watch the outside world delivers that classic good-old-pub feel.
Old pictures of the town covering the walls are a nice touch, while a What’s On board hints to livelier times when conversations are a lot more raucous.
To the back of the ground floor was a nicely decorated, bravely white restaurant, but with no sign of life in the early evening.
The toilets were pleasant, clean and without any of those unwanted odours. Although there were a couple of unwanted tissues just dumped by the sink and on the floor.
Happy to give the benefit of the doubt, I’ll blame a lazy customer and expect the staff had no clue.
As I surmised, the Red Lion is a decent place to offer comforting warm solace on a rainy autumn evening, others seemed to agree as groups and couples began filtering in and filling up the remaining vacant tables, shaking the wet from their hair and taking off those sodden coats.
One lady picked up a stool from nowhere, dragged it to the bar and began nattering with the staff. So that’s how it’s done here.
The night was just beginning to get going just as it was time for me to get going.
THE RED LION HOTEL, MARKET PLACE, SPALDING, PE11 1SU
DECOR: A nice, warm traditional pub feel, a good warmer for a wet autumn evening. 3/5
DRINK: Timothy Taylor’s Knowle Spring was an enjoyable, refreshing blonde ale – 4.2%. Not outstanding but by no means bad. 3/5
PRICE: At £4.70 for the pint there was nothing to grumble about. 3/5
ATMOSPHERE: I arrived at a quiet time, just as thing were getting going. But everyone was having a good time and conversation flowed. 3/5
STAFF: Pleasant and polite, but not particularly chatty when pushed. 3/5