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Swan, Farnborough

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user reviews of the Swan, Farnborough

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

Large pub immediately next to the airstrip and aviation museum. Long bar split into 2 seperate areas and a third area for eating. A fine and reasonably priced menu, a cut above pub grub.
For a pub this size and with the footfall that it must get, I am surprised that there are only 4 hand pumps. That said, my pint was in top condition and all 4 pumps were from smaller breweries, well done for avoiding the Doom Bar or Pride trap!
Staff were polite and attentive and I would recommend this pub heartedly, for a beer, for food or for both.
TonyMitch - 11 Mar 2019 19:52
Large pub immediately next to the airstrip and aviation museum. Long bar split into 2 seperate areas and a third area for eating. A fine and reasonably priced menu, a cut above pub grub.
For a pub this size and with the footfall that it must get, I am surprised that there are only 4 hand pumps. That said, my pint was in top condition and all 4 pumps were from smaller breweries, well done for avoiding the Doom Bar or Pride trap!
Staff were polite and attentive and I would recommend this pub heartedly, for a beer, for food or for both.
TonyMitch - 11 Mar 2019 19:52
drove past today - closed up :-(
Thevicar - 1 May 2015 14:59
Only ever been here twice; first time was put off by slow service due to crowding; this was a couple of years ago. Second visit last month found I really like the place; quick service; live music and all spot on.
EnglishGent - 16 Aug 2011 13:39
Popped in for a rare visit on Sunday and was pleasantly greeted by live music! Not top notch but the old bird didnt have a bad voice and it assuages some of the pain caused by the bar prices. Barmaids were plentiful and very efficient and not bad to look at either. I will be back.
beernotfood - 19 Jul 2011 14:54
A great pub, a lot different and huge improvement since the refurblishment took place, if you remeber to pre-refurb days you know what I mean!!! The only thing I have to say is 2 things.
1. The range of ales are arnt as impressive as before the re-furb, used to be 6 regularly changing real ales but now their is always london pride on with with 1 or 2 guest ales, not a problem the ales are good, but just not a selection that the used to be.

2. The price, its very pricey here if you pay with 5 note for a pint for example, you dont get much change!

But thats the only 2 bad points about the pub, the ales are good, services is excallant, food is brillant, views over the airport is fantastic, good car park, easy access by bus, just an all round decent pub!!!
neil19 - 10 Feb 2011 12:02
Love this pub, I consider it my local. A bit pricey but worth it. There's never any trouble or fights. Lovely food and nice staff. Would recommend!
stellagirlx - 4 Dec 2010 00:31
Forgot to enter my rating. Keep up the good work.
GREGORYANGELL - 3 Sep 2010 16:30
I have lived in Farnborough for over thirty years and would never have visited the Swan - UNTIL NOW! As with all pubs, nothing is ever perfect, but I sense a real desire by the new owners to make things work. I'm a real ale drinker and have been really impressed with both the quality and variety of what's on offer. Newspapers are provided, which isn't the case with most pubs, and when the sun is out it's great to sit outside, read the paper and have a great beer. As for the comment about Weatherspoons, you must be joking. I've never had a decent pint from a Weatherspoons pub. I've always had an excellent pint at The Swan. Thanks to all the staff at the Swan
GREGORYANGELL - 3 Sep 2010 16:29
Unless they buck their ideas up The Swan will certainly lose out to a Wetherspoon outlet opening in town. Why bother with an expensive refurbishment when you are just going to run the place into the ground? Flood stains on the ceiling, unpolished floors, flooded toilets, light fittings falling off or missing, it does not look good. Bar service is very poor at busy times. The recent introduction of TV screens to watch the World Cup was great but it was almost impossible to get served for England games. Most importantly, for me at least, is the standard of beer and this has at times been garbage. The recent Cottage guest ale was destroyed out of all recognition. Too many ales out of condition and now an extra 20p a pint for the privilege. Come on chaps, wake up.
GazzaTheBeerMan - 9 Jul 2010 13:57
Oh dear. Visited again a few weeks ago. Had a conversation with two bar staff that went something like this...
Me: A pint of real ale please, and do you have any other cider? Looks like the Bulmer's is finished?
Staff: The Bulmer's is off. We have X, Y and Z bottled ciders.
[I take my pint and exit downstairs to the garden to consult with the cider drinker on his requirements... after which, I return]
Me: I'd like a bottle of cider Y, please.
Staff: Ooops, sorry, it turns out we don't have any cold in the fridge. Would you like a warm bottle with ice?
Me: I don't think that the cider drinker would be too happy with that.
[I exit again to confer with the cider drinker a second time and to tell him that buying cider here is a challenge best met by himself. The cider drinker returns with a bottle of pear cider that seems to tastes a bit like bad perfume.]
So, not the most positive experience with the staff and drinks. The garden is quite nice and I'm sure it will be packed during the Airshow in a couple weeks time. The car park often seems full and although we didn't eat there, the aroma eminating from the kitchen was very nice.
As for the comment below arguing that Farnborough could use some better pubs - I definitely can't argue with that. Certainly that new Wetherspoons that's due to move into the Centre is bound to give some of the locals a run for their money. Big chains aren't usually my style, but the Swan doesn't seem to be giving me any reason right now to choose them over the new guys.


gypsygrrl - 6 Jul 2010 22:06
This is a decent and excallant all round pub in Farnborough. 3 real ales avaiable, London Pride and 2 Guest Ales. Large Food Menu. The pub is spilt into two areas, a bar area and restaurtant/food area. The beer garden is very large, smart and modern. The Balconey over looking the farnborough airport, which is one of the best or if not the best view in Farnborough. Their is a car park, can be a bit tight when full! I do recommed a visit here! Live bands/singers every Friday & Saturday Evening. Freindly and a good atmosphere! An excallant pub!
haleale - 29 Aug 2009 14:50
A year on from the refurb and The Swan has evolved significantly. Gone are the pretentious flower vases and floral arrangements. Some nice prints of airplanes and a large aerial view have appeared on the walls. The menus are now more suited to a wider audience. There is live music on Fridays and Saturdays, this is rather let down by the viewing space so get there early. Two thirds of the pub now has available seating for drinkers although you could eat anywhere. Best of all, the beer quality has improved although still serving only two guest ales. They even had a mild ale in last weekend. If there is a downside it is the complete lack of a community feel but at least the bar staff are friendly enough.
GazzaTheBeerMan - 5 Mar 2009 16:22
I would have to disagree with some of the previous comments and think that the Swan is exactly the type of place Farnborough has been crying out for, a good quality place to go for a drink or something to eat. The food is excellent and all cooked in house making it different from the boring chain food served by other pubs in the area. I have visited the pub on a number of occasions following its refurbishment, and admit on my first visit there were a few problems with speed of service, however this has vastly improved and waiting time has not been a problem on recent visits. I think this has been largely down to them changing their chef

As for the ales, I have not had a problem with them and whilst they have London Pride as a standard house ale, they consistently change the two guest ales and I have seen a number of local breweries such as Twickenham and Hogs Back in recent weeks. The friendly staff and relaxed atmosphere also make it very welcoming unlike what some of the previous comments suggest!
Steve78 - 7 Oct 2008 17:30
A lot of effort was made last year by the customers and bar manager to give this pub a good real ale reputation. Since the refurbishment one can only describe the management's approach to real ale as a disaster. Last year there were six ever changing real ales in good condition. Now, there are three handpulls in use, the odd appearance of a few local ales with London Pride served as standard. The real problem is inconsistency. The Doom Bar at the weekend was flat and out of condition. Prior to this the beers have been known to be served very hazy on several occasions. And all for an extra 30p on a pint at 2.90.

Who wants to go out and pay a lot of money for a meal if it is accompanied and spoiled by poor quality beer?
GazzaTheBeerMan - 1 Jul 2008 18:01
Hang on a minute, its not all bad news. Yes,the service could be improved (it is a little slow and I think the staff could be trained better), but the ambience is nice and I think it's a great place to go and drink, especially with those airfield views. I disagree that the staff aren't interested in you if you're not from Farnborough, and I think they are as happy to serve you a couple of drinks as they are a whole meal. If you don't like it then go somewhere cheaper.
ollie83 - 29 Jun 2008 19:59
Gastro-pub, be warned.
salty64 - 28 Jun 2008 19:15
The "Old Swan" was literally crumbling and filthy so I was really looking forward to seeing what the new place was like. I really shouldn't have bothered.

The refurb is a bit mediocre and nothing seems to match. It's like a standard brewery makeover that's been "improved" by a Granny, nice curtains and some cushions kind of thing. As posted previously the aviation heritage has been completely ignored.

The current owners seem to despise anyone that actually has the audacity to live in Farnborough and generally the whole atmosphere is snobby and condescending. The staff seem poorly trained, ordering a beer can take ages and when it does arrive it's generally flat. At 3.30 a pint this is a little disappointing. Also, if you're not interested in food the staff aren't interested in you!!! The food is average but sold at gourmet prices. Portions are miniscule.

There seems to be absolutely no provision for smokers, while looking at the garden I saw a few huddled in a storage area by the kitchen.

Now the good points:
1. The toilets are clean

All in all very disappointing and not somewhere I will be visiting again in a hurry.
makemineapint - 19 Apr 2008 17:10
I have to agree with Gazza. Popped in last weekend to have a look-see. We paid 6.80 for a Polish lager and a Bulmer's. Far too expensive. The refurb has been done to a modestly high standard (yes, could have been an even higher spec). I think they have potential to attract quite a bit of money when the airshow is on, however, the Swan may now be a bit too posh (especially if all you want is a reasonably priced drink) for many Farnborough & North Camp locals. We may return for a special occasion, however we have already heard from other locals that the food service was poor, although the food itself was good.
gypsygrrl - 26 Mar 2008 15:48
I do think that the decor is slightly better than prevoius, the only shame is that the drinking area should be kept with a dart board and 1 tv? their are 3 real ales on offer, when custom builds up this will return to normal service of 6! Ales change at presant of a fortnighlty basis! On offer is London Pride, Doombar and Ringwood Best Bitter. Price of ale is to high at 2.90 but ahh well could be worse, could be paying over 3 for a pint of lager! I do agree that the pictures of the planes could of been kept! The pub is heading in a better dicreation but 1 or 2 of the things from prevoius should of been kept! 8/10
neil19thomas - 13 Mar 2008 10:22
Unfortunately this "pub" now seems like a place for the beer drinker to avoid. What a shame.
yorkie - 4 Mar 2008 14:00
So what have they done with this facelift? Well, the wall between the public bar and lounge bar has been knocked through. The lounge bar has been extended into the old kitchen and the old toilets. It still remains as several separate areas. Outside there is a high level patio with views over the airfield and an impressive new garden area designed to catch the late afternoon sun in the summer. There is a stairlift down to new toilets making the pub suitable for the wheelchair bound.

The aviation history that has been witnessed by this old building has been totally ignored. The much admired photographs and old pictures of past and present aircraft flying over The Swan have disappeared to be replaced by bland prints. Elevator music plays in the background.

The dress code stretches to no football shirts, no tracksuits and no hats. There is no dartboard, no pool table, no Sky TV and no fruit machines.

If your face doesn't fit, you won't get past the bouncer on the door. People who have been drinking here for years, even decades, have been rather harshly turned away.

The new menus vary from the slightly expensive to the ridiculous. The food is well cooked and nicely presented with waitress service by attentive staff. But is it value for money?

There are six handpulls and depending on sales more beers will be introduced. The choice so far has been a mostly uninspired selection from the usual suspects and the quality needs to improve.

The old Swan is dead and a not so Ugly Duckling has been born with a few minor teething problems. How successful it will be, only time will tell.
GazzaTheBeerMan - 3 Mar 2008 10:48
As has been said below , this is not the pub it once was, complete facelift and refurb has left it feeling more like a wine bar than a pub, only two beers on London pride and Sharpes Doom bar which was a little warm and 2.90 a pint. myself and friends used to visit this pub before going to watch our local football team, however I was told( in a rather patonising manner) that football shirts will not be allowed to be worn as of next week,and that a smarter dress code is preffered, One feels that the aims of the owners are to try and capture the eaters rather than the drinkers, and to lure the "posher" people in rather than those who were regulars here before.
You have been warned.

salty64 - 2 Mar 2008 12:31
The pub has been refurbished in a contempory style. Shame that the furnishings do not go with the high standard of decoration. Looks like the tables and chairs have been bought from a house clearance as nothing matches. Went to a pre reopening function and sad to say the service was poor the food not of a high standard and small amounts. There was only 2 real ales on tap Pride and Doom Bar. Both nice. Wine list was poor-only 3 red & 3 white.
If this standard continues I cannot see it lasting long as the clientele they are trying to cater for,business people from airport and surrounds,will go elsewhere.
Shame as the place has potential. Maybe they are just teething problems. I will return in a few months to see if things have improved.
DOBBINHWCC - 28 Feb 2008 08:51
Everything about this pub is perfect 9/10!! Good Real Ales & Real Cider, Pool Table, Sky Sports, Dart Board, Juke Box, Leathers Sofas, Outdoor Seating, Debit/Credit Cards Accepted, Car Park, Easy Reach by bus/train, Soon to re-open in mid febuary 08 after a 1/2 million pound refurb, if good i hope would then be 10/10!

An all round excallant pub!
bigscott12 - 31 Jan 2008 11:19
The week of the 14th of February has been put into my dairy for a visit! Looking forward to seeing what has happened. The plans sound fanstic.
The ales here are always well kept plus the food is outstanding! The range of ales are brillant 6 pumps avaible plus a real cider! large food menu!
barry1 - 24 Dec 2007 14:05
Closed for a full refurbishment. Planning to reopen - 14th February 2008.
GazzaTheBeerMan - 26 Nov 2007 15:44
Great pub!!!

I'm new to the area and have been chatting with the, extremely enthusiastic new landlord.

They have a great selection of beer and food and the locals say it has the best selection of real ales around.

It was quite rundown when i first went in for a beer, but the new management are giving the place an overhaul., a facelift, inside and out if you will,
(it remains open by the way).
Will be great to see what it'll be like after the work's all complete, especially with the view of the runway/airfield behind.

Very friendly staff and customers alike, a lovely pub to go for a quiet drink and a bite to eat., or for the frequent live music and other events.

10/10 for choice of ales,

8 out of 10 overall for now..,
Facelift pending... could end up with 10/10.

Best of luck to the new landlord.
monkeybeer - 2 Jul 2007 16:37
There was a change of owner at Christmas and there have been a number of improvements since then with a major refurbishment coming in the Autumn. The manager is very enthusiastic about providing a variety of real ales on the six hand pumps, he uses the SIBA list to his advantage. They operate a no under 21s age restriction and this has cut out most of the previous problems in the public bar. One "improvement" they could have done without is the introduction of sofas. They severely restrict the number of seats and have made the lounge bar area more crowded due to the lack of space.
GazzaTheBeerMan - 12 Jun 2007 22:18
Earthy pub, always has a great beer selection on. Good, honest pub grub. It's not the Ritz but doesn't pretend to be.
yorkie - 6 Apr 2006 22:28
Have to disagree with previous comments. There's a 'young people's' bit on the left hand side and the restaurant and old boy's boozer on the right. Wouldn't go into the bit on the left unless you want a fight! I've always found the Swan to be an OK place, good range of real ales, landlord is always friendly. Very local pub. One of the best range of pub snacks I've ever found. Have pushed prices up a bit recently.
Dan - 1 Sep 2004 14:44
A shithole of a pub. I used to live behind the pub, and though quality a boozer on my door step. Went in once, and never again. Rude staff, and as Jason says falling down.
thomas - 10 Feb 2004 13:51
Grim and falling apart. Pleasantly situated right next to an airfield.
Jason Holdcroft - 13 Jan 2004 16:20

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