Late last year I spied on Facebook that the Stirling Arms Hotel in Guildford had recently refurbed some rooms and had a cracking 50% off opening special. So I got to thinking that it would be nice if GG and I could take ourselves on a Guildford tour! I planned ahead and booked us in for a Saturday in February (which seemed like a world away at the time when I booked it). Now truth be told Guildford is less than half an hour drive from our place, probably pushing twenty minutes, but there is something really lovely about taking yourself away for the night. It’s an adventure, so off we set!
Check in at the Stirling Arms is at 2pm, but this overnighter to Guildford provided a prime opportunity to finally visit Alfred’s Kitchen, a Perth institution. So this was to be our first stop for a bite of lunch.
We got there a few minutes after 12 and there were already a few people lining up waiting for the shutters to open. Being a debut visit I kept things relatively simple and ordered a hamburger with cheese, jazzed up slightly with some grilled pineapple. Hey we were staycationing, so why not? GG went with the Alfred’s Special – Hamburger patty with egg, cheese and bacon in three layers of toast with gherkin relish. With our order in, we wandered to find a table. There are seats set up roadside and at night you see the crowds huddled around the fire pits with their burgers or a cup of the famous pea and ham soup, but we headed towards the back where they had some umbrella’d tables set up. You can also dine in their refurbed train carriage which they’ve done such a wonderful job with! I can imagine kids would just love it. This big kid definitely thought about it.
Timing wise it didn’t take long and it was lunch time! I enjoyed my burger, with the tasty patty, plenty of salad and no regrets about the pineapple! Added some nice sweetness. It was nice. I would say though that if it was a competition, GG won that round… seriously Alfred’s Special is the like the ultimate toasted club sandwich, a sky high delight with so many flavours. It’s a winner. A solid first visit!
It was about 1 o’clock by now and with some spare time before check in, we made the short walk to the Guildford Hotel.
What a completely outstanding job they did of transforming this old girl. I was so happy to see her rise from the literal ashes after so many years of indecision. We each got a Gage Road beer and sat at an outside table, pleased that the water spritzers were in action on this warm day. It wasn’t a long stay (and grand plans I had for a serve of their delicious cheeseburger spring rolls were dashed from my filling Alfred’s visit), but we took a leisurely look around and if you haven’t been before then make sure you wander upstairs when you do. They’ve so cleverly captured the history of this lovely old pub.
As we were in Guildford we decided to wander through the antique shops because there are a fair few of them and it can be entertaining to peruse the aisles for hidden treasures. I was tempted to buy about three hundred cute brooches, but exercised some restraint. It was the same story for many of the pretty baskets that I liked the idea of taking along to the local farmers markets.
After this exploration session we headed back to the Stirling Arms and straight to the drive through bottle shop to grab our keys. The chap that checked us in was super friendly and also made sure we were given a Local Loyalty Card, which meant $6 glasses of house wine, plus spirits or pints for $8. And that’s all day, every day for card holders, which is pretty great! As we learnt the pub has changed hands in recent years and the first upgrades made were to the nine guest rooms upstairs. The sports bar is currently closed for its renovations, but the restaurant and beer garden remain open. We wandered upstairs to our room and everything looked fresh and clean. We had booked one of their suites, which was a nice size and had been well fitted out. It wasn’t the fanciest room I’ve stayed in, but they had done a really nice job with it and was a perfect base for our day of exploring Guildford.
Our next stop was across the way at Rose & Crown, again an old pub that has been lovingly restored. We arrived around 4ish and it looked fairly empty when we first peered in through the fence and we learnt the restaurant was closed until around 6. The back beer garden was open though and that’s where the action was, housing a very decent crowd. We found a table for two and decided we’d snack on a Banger Board, while enjoying a cider for me (Naked Cider) and a beer (Feral Hop Hog) for GG. It was entirely pleasant out the back with water misters taking the edge off any heat. The Banger Board (21) featured cheese kransky, bratwurst, cured meats, cheese, sauerkraut and pretzel! We happily sat nursing our drinks and chatting away the afternoon while we enjoyed the flavoursome sliced snag and cold cuts and cheese.
So where to next? We wandered back to the Stirling Arms and decided we should take advantage of living like a local and each enjoyed a house red. Entertainingly, at all of our previous stops we’d been looking for Stella Artois on tap for GG and had no joy, but of course they had it here! Always the way and definitely something we’ll remember for future visits. Now as mentioned the restaurant and beer garden is currently a work in progress, but the staff are friendly, the bevvys are cold and the tunes catchy, so we were glad we stopped in.
Despite seemingly having pecked all day long, we decided to grab an early dinner and wandered down the road to Jezebelle, a local tapas restaurant. Thankfully being early they could squeeze us in, which was appreciated. We sat right near the window so were entertained by the never ending stream of visitors to Alfred’s just across the road. It just didn’t stop and as we learnt from chatting to the Jezebelle staff the crowds continue on into the night on the weekends. It’s a popular place for a reason.
I was pleased to be trying out Jezebelle and we started with a nice glass of wine each, a 2016 Vivanco Viura Tempranillo from Rioja in Spain for me and their red counterpart for GG, before deciding on the food front to share some Patatas Bravas, house made bravas sauce & aioli (v) $12; Seasonal Warm salad $12; Croquetta of the week (mushroom) $4 each and Jamon, shaved Spanish ham (gf) (per 50g) $10. We had an entirely pleasant hour working our way through these dishes. Each well sized and with good, fresh flavours. Particularly enjoyed the Patatas Bravas. Big spud fan over here.
With the smallest amount of room left we wandered just down the road to Tubs, a local gelato store. Wanting to refresh the palate I went for a zesty lime while GG opted for a creamy coffee flavour. Both were nice and we happily scooped away as we wandered back to The Stirling Arms for a restful sleep after a solid day of exploring.
The next morning we’d planned on waking up early but slept in a little later and my favourite Guildford cafes – Padburys and Little Guildford – were both heaving with people. Having not made a booking we decided we’d venture past Holly Rayes in Bassendean on the way home which was delightful, but if we’ve been better organised on the breakie front we could have managed all meals in Guildford to really round out the exploration. Might have to be something for next time.
So there you go. Our Guildford tour had ended and there really is plenty within walking distance of the Stirling Arms to enjoy. A staycation and walking tour, not too far from home, but feeling like a restful world away.