I know that I can’t be the only person who watched The Holiday and thought to myself: I want to go there. And as I often do, I found a way to turn this silly thought in my head into a reality. On a recent trip to London I took a two-day side trip to The Holiday filming locations including Shere and Godalming.
In addition to Shere and Godalming, I also visited some nearby villages including Albury, Peaslake, and Guildford. This rounded out the trip, gave me a place to spend the night, and provided me with a variety of activities. I spent two days and one night, but you may want to spend three days and two nights. Keep in mind that I went on weekdays since these towns do get crowded with tourists on weekends.
The Holiday Filming Locations: Shere
What to know about Shere
Shere is one of the most scenic villages in England, you probably know it from The Holiday. The small town has one church, two pubs, a café, and a couple shops.
The small town is just as cute as you could image, once you arrive your instantly understand why so many films use the village as a backdrop. In addition to The Holiday, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones, and The Wedding Date have filmed in Shere.
I have seen The Holiday many times, and often while watching I have wondering about Iris’s commute to work. She works in London but lives in the tiny cottage in the middle of nowhere. How does that work out? It turns out – it is pretty realistic! You could get from Shere to London in just about an hour if you took an express train.
The tricky thing about visiting Shere is that it gets crowded on the weekends, but some of the attractions are only open on the weekends.
What to do in Shere
The White Horse
This pub in the center of town is the pub is where Amanda and Graham had dinner. It looks just as it did in the film, and the staff is super friendly. The pub is bigger than I expected, it has several rooms plus seating outdoors.
The White Horse was built in 1425 as a farmhouse, it was added on to in the 1600s, and in the 1700s it became an inn. A 1995 refurbishment revealed a hidden cellar with casks of Brandy from the 1700s and the bones of a Victorian girl. Some say that the pub is haunted.
St. Jame’s Church
A small church on the hill in the center of town, it’s worth taking a quick peak inside. The walking paths in Shere will take you right past it. The church dates back to 1190 and sits on a small hill. There is a small cemetery just outside the church.
The Dabbling Duck
A little café in the center of the downtown with a nice outdoor seating area. They serve three meals a day and it is a convenient place for breakfast. I stopped in and had a Full English Breakfast.
This large pub with a beer garden is owned by one of the nicest people I encountered in England.
The Silent Pool
According to legend, this small lake is where a maiden drowned and ever since the water has been completely still. It gets its color from an invasive species of weeds.
Silent Pool is between the Silent Pool Distillery and the Albury Organic Vineyard – you can walk between them in just about 5 minutes. These sites are in Albury, which is a village just outside Shere.
Silent Pool Distillery
This distillery just beside the Silent Pool makes the most incredible gins. They are so smooth and balanced that you can sip them straight – I know that sounds crazy but they have no bite. You can walk in and do a tasting, but distillery tours have limited availability and book out up to a month in advance.
Albury Organic Vineyard
Surrey has been receiving attention for its sparkling wine, and this vineyard is the one favored by the Queen. It is located just down the hill on the other side from Silent Hill from the Silent Hill Distillery. You could easily see all three in one go. The vineyard is only open on weekends and you might want to call in advance to arrange a tasting.
The Shere Museum
This museum is only open from 2-5 on Saturdays and Sundays, and since I visited on a Thursday, I didn’t get a chance to go.
How to Get to Shere
To get to Shere, take the Southwestern Railway from London’s Waterloo Station to Guildford. The express trains will get you to Guildford in 35 minutes, but other trains take up to 1 hour 11 minutes, so look up train times and plan your trip accordingly. Once you arrive in Guildford just take a taxi to Shere. It will take about 15 minutes and cost about 16 pounds. There were plenty of taxis lined up at the station and I didn’t have to wait at all.
What to know about Peaslake
Just when you thought that a town couldn’t be smaller than Shere, Peaslake proves you wrong. It has just one church, one pub, an inn, a bike shop, and a small convenience store. The town’s main attraction are the many hiking and biking trails.
Peaslake is just about 2 miles south of Shere and the drive takes less than 10 minutes. I spent the night in Peaslake because they have a cute and affordable bed and breakfast.
What to do in Peaslake
Since Leith Hill was out of the way, I hiked to Pitch Hill. It was about 40 minutes to walk the 2 miles from the Hurtwood Hotel. The viewpoint was ok, but not great. I did appreciate the mild workout.
There are a great number of walking trails, people I met on the walk recommended the site FancyFreeWalks.org to find different walking trails with detailed maps and directions.
This is a viewpoint that I didn’t make it to, but it did some highly recommended by a local who grew up in the area. This is in Dorking, which is the town just to the south of Peaslake.
I wish that I could have made it to Leith Hill, but I didn’t rent a car and it would have been out of the way. Plus, the skies with overcast and it wasn’t the day to go. When the skies are clear you can use a telescope at the top of the tower to read the time on the clock on Big Ben. This is also in Dorking.
The Hurtwood Inn
The name of this pub is confusing since it is attached to the Hurtwork Hotel.
The pub serves up beers and surprisingly good Italian food.
Where to Stay in Peaslake
I stayed at the Hurtwood Hotel in Peaslake. The hotel is a short taxi ride from Shere and it is cute and cozy. The town is popular is cyclists, and a bike shop is one of the few buildings downtown.
You could make this a day trip, but I think it is logical to spend a night in Surrey. It will give you more time to explore, plus accommodations in Surrey are much more affordable than a hotel back in London. Peaslake was a convenient place to stay since it is near Shere and only about 20 minutes from Godalming. There isn’t too much to do in town. I arrived at 5pm, took a walk around town, settled into my room, and then had pasta and a pint on the terrace of the pub/restaurant.
The Holiday Filming Locations: Godalming
What to know about Goldalming
While the pub where Amanda meets up with Graham is in Shere, the downtown where she goes shopping is Godalming. This is a much larger town and it is much easier to get to since it has a train station.
Locals were proud of the fact that Godalming once had more pubs than other other town in England. A handful have since shut down, but there are still plenty. Another point of interest is that Godalming was the first town to have public electricity.
The shop where The Holiday filmed was actually a candle shop that they turned into a grocer. Therefore, it doesn’t exist. There are plenty of other shops and pubs to visit.
What to do in Godalming
The walking path goes along the Way River and past the Cloister which is a memorial to Jack Phillips, a man from Godalming is a Titanic hero. The path is very beautiful and you will likely pass by cows lounging in the shade. The path has several large willow trees and a few bridges over streams. If you are up for a longer walk, the path takes you all the way to Guildford and it about 6.5 miles.
This gallery on the main street in Godalming specializes in British Contemporary Art and most of the prices are affordable. I purchased a painting by Will Swayne and they shipped it home for me.
The Red Lion
A big gastropub near the center of everything, this is a convenient place to grab lunch.
The Star Inn
This pub has a large beer garden in the back.
What to know about Guildford
If you make this journey, you will likely be traveling through Guildford. The town doesn’t have a direct connection to The Holiday, but it’s cobblestone High Street has charm and excellent shopping. The train from Godalming to London will stop in Guildford and it is definitely worth getting off the train and exploring.
What to do in Guildford
Guildford Castle was guild around 1066, and the remains which include a castle tower sit up on a hill and is surrounded by a park. You can visit the tower and take in a 360-degree view of Guildford from the top of the tower.
Guildford High Street
Guildford High Street has a mixed independent retailers and big name stores. I hit up the sale at Barbour.
In addition to shopping, the High Street also has wonderful architecture. One of the most important architectural landmarks is Abbots Hospital, a Jacobean building built between 1619 and 1621 to provide homes for the elderly. It still serves that purpose today.
The Guildhall is one of the prettiest and most architecturally interesting buildings on High Street. The Elizabethan building, and a Guildhall has existed on the site since medieval times.
The towns of Shere, Peaslake, Godalming, and Guildford are some of the prettiest towns in England, and they are easy to get to from London. These towns are in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and are an ideal place for biking and hiking. Even if you don’t want to participate in sports, it is refreshing to spend some time in the countryside out of the city. If you just want to see Shere, you could easily do so in a day trip from London.