I haven’t got The Lully Castle on my Christmas list, I really haven’t.

Nor did I take a New Year’s resolution to report on a Swanley pub before anywhere else in 2016.

But, for the second year in a row, circumstances saw me in the Lullingstone Castle over the festive season. And what’s more, this time I was playing host.

Having visited the lovely people at the local council and enjoyed a very positive meeting, my colleague and I found ourselves hungry and looking for a late lunch. We’d walked right through the town and hadn’t found anywhere which attracted us so, having passed on what I considered reasonable warnings, we ventured in.

However, my fears proved groundless. We were met with a smile from the efficient and friendly barmaid who served us immediately. Likewise, the locals around the bar were happy to chat and make recommendations for lunch.

In the end we opted for a couple of hot baguettes with a serving of chips – hot, tasty and beautifully presented. The barmaid with the smile even took a moment to check everything was okay.

The place was busy and buzzing but, unlike my previous visits, wasn’t over-run with children flinging themselves about the place. It was certainly popular for the time of day but everything arrived in a timely manner.

The full refurbishment that the pub underwent 18 months ago looks to be standing up well and the toilets are obviously inspected regularly.

As we left we had to weave our way between the obligatory gaggle of smokers cluttering up the doorway, but this aside everything about our visit was pleasant and welcoming. Management at the pub didn’t seem to have changed as the same faces were still in attendance. I can therefore only assume that they’ve taken the criticism from yours truly on the chin and decided to up their game considerably.

I have to report this is definitely a pub which has well and truly pulled its proverbial socks up. 

Walking back through town centre I couldn’t help but notice the local charity shop had a full size second-hand bath for sale. I mention it only because I’ve never seen a bath in a charity shop before and it struck me as the strangest thing I’d seen in Swanley.

On previous occasions the strangest things I’ve seen have been inside the Lullingstone Castle, not this time.      

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Lullingstone Castle, High Street, Swanley.

Decor: *** (still in pretty good nick following the refurb)

Drink: *** (the usual suspects are all present)

Price: **** (not bad at all)

Food: *** (traditional pub fare, but tasty enough)

Atmosphere: **** (friendly and welcoming)

Staff: *** (smiling and helpful)

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