Neptune Guildford is our 26th store to have opened, and our third in the county of Surrey. It may be a little smaller than the average Neptune store, but it’s nestled right in the heart of this historical town.
Guildford felt like just the place for us to call home: while it’s only a short while from central London, it’s a town that’s full of charm, from its characterful buildings to the beautiful countryside on its doorstep.
As always, when we open a new store we like to put together a bit of a guide to the area; our very favourite things to do and places to eat and shop. You’ll see that we’ve chosen a number just a stone’s throw from Neptune Guildford, but we didn’t want to not tell you about some of our other favourite spots just a short drive away either. So, whether you’re just stopping by, or you’ve known Guildford for years, we hope you’ll find something to turn your visit to us into a whole day out.
Tranquil outdoor space can be found in the town on the River Wey. The National Trust have opened an award-winning visitor centre on Dapdune Wharf, from which you can explore the river by boat or from the paths that run alongside. And if you’re in town in September, be sure to take in the Wey River Festival, when craft and food stalls set up on the Wharf and the river is lit up come nightfall by the illuminated pageant.
The Electric Theatre is a non-profit space where you’ll find all sorts of performances, from jazz and classical concerts to comedic farce. The building’s industrial history is another good reason to visit: its name comes from the fact that it once supplied the town with power.
Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village
Just a short drive from Guildford, in the village of Compton, you’ll find a gallery dedicated to the work of Victorian painter G.F. Watts. This extraordinary place, which accompanies the house that Watts and his wife Mary (a potter and designer) built in 1891, is home to a wealth of Watts’ portraits, sculptures and symbolic paintings. After a turn around the three gallery spaces, you can also visit the couple’s studio before a walk through the woods and gardens to Mary’s richly-decorated Arts & Crafts chapel.
Also just outside the town is Hatchlands Park, a Georgian country house surrounded by acres of parkland. The house is still a family home, so is only open (along with its gardens) on certain dates. But the estate’s fields and pockets of woodland are open all year round. Criss-crossed with walking trails, it’s a lovely spot for a stroll (or lengthy ramble) – and dogs are more than welcome too.
This small, independent café is one of our favourite places for lunch, when you’ll find their counter bursting with a wholesome salad selection. But Sunday brunch is when they really shine – there’s a rather impressive choice of ways to have your eggs, and buttermilk pancakes that’ve gone straight to the top of our must-eat list.
Just across the road from Neptune Guildford, in a striking, glass-fronted building, is coffee-shop-meets-food-store, Caracoli. Not only do they serve their own delicious house-blended coffee and sell a selection of speciality ingredients, but they also share their space with Steamer Trading, for the pans, appliances and utensils that go alongside. On sunny days, we recommend taking your coffee and your purchases out to their modern terrace space.
Guildford’s Harbour Hotel boasts three different but equally luxurious spaces to eat and drink. From The Long Bar, which also plays host to comedy nights and live music; to the stunning, double-height space of the Harbour Cafe, Bar and Grill; to The Jetty restaurant, where you can dine on local and seasonal food. We particularly recommend afternoon tea at the Harbour Cafe, especially the inventive ‘Gentleman’s Tea’.
Refreshingly unpretentious and thoroughly English, the William IV pub in the village of Albury is as traditional as it gets. Expect homecooked food at its best and most honest, low beams, roaring fires, and a warm welcome for muddy wellies and wet dogs.
Down one of Guildford’s many side streets, lives Partisan Cheesemonger & Deli, a store born out of friendship and a shared love of cheese. Its owners, Mike and Owen, left London to set up shop here a couple of years ago, and since then it’s become the place to go for ‘beautiful blues’ and ‘soft and unctuous’ cheeses (their words), as well as all the necessary accompaniments and that most perfect of partners, charcuterie.
While this skincare brand may be much talked about – especially its Cleanse & Polish facewash – the opportunities to visit one of its stores are few and far between, with only a handful of locations. At their Guildford home, you’ll find peace, calm, plant-inspired ranges and treatment rooms for facials.
Tucked down the wonderfully named Angel Gate street is children’s clothing boutique Lemons or Limes. Behind its unmistakeable lemon-yellow shopfront is a collection to delight both little ones and grown-ups. You’ll find (slightly eccentric) printed dresses and sweet gifts for newborns.