This week Pub Spy took a trip to The Tunnel House Inn in Coates near Cirencester on the recommendation of local historians who say the popular pub is a real treat.

WHEN I returned as Pub Spy, my friends in the local history community were quick to suggest that I visit The Tunnel House Inn.

Established in the 1780s for the hard-working navvies building the Sapperton tunnel, many a pint was consumed as well-deserved compensation for the long, physically demanding job of legging.

In 1952 the Tunnel House was mostly destroyed in a fire, leaving only bare walls and an untouched pub sign. Now rebuilt, the Tunnel House sits far off the main road, down an undeveloped bumpy track.

As soon as you step into the pub, you can immediately sense the history of the place, with that feel enhanced by the old-fashioned décor, with faded advertising signs, old spades and other gardening tools suspended on the ceiling.

Quaintly, a menu is available for dogs so they don't feel left out during your meal, with free treats and water too – so this is not the place for those who dislike man’s best friend.

I went on Bank Holiday Monday when a small yet well-considered menu was offered. For starter, my companion and I shared the charcuterie board (£14), with a lovely selection of sliced meats and breads.

I ordered the Tunnel Burger (why not try the namesake?) for my main which came topped with cheese and smoked bacon and a serving of skin-on fries (£14). Unfortunately, although presented well, I was immediately disappointed after taking a few bites as, to my surprise, the burger was undercooked and a little cold to the taste – though not so bad as to be a health risk, I must add. I hadn't asked for the burger to be cooked medium-rare or rare, so this was a real shock and I wasn't able to finish.

Normally I would complain about something like this but, of course, doing so on this occasion and then penning this review would have given away that I am Pub Spy and, in order to maintain the fairness of these reviews, my anonymity is essential.

Luckily my companion fared better with well-cooked fish and crisp chips with mushy peas (£14).

With prices a little steep for the quality provided, I am not sure this would be counted as good value for money, but the historic site is well worth a visit to those who want a little taste of the past and the staff were welcoming.

Open from 11am-11pm Monday to Saturday and from 11am-10.30pm on Sunday, The Tunnel House Inn is worth a try.



  • Atmosphere: 8/10
  • Decor: 8/10
  • Staff: 7/10
  • Food: 5/10
  • Prices: 6/10

Overall: 7/10