Food Stay

The Dragon Willington REVIEW

The Dragon Willington is a charming 150 year old pub situated in the village of Willington. Striking just the right balance between traditional country pub and contemporary décor and delicious food, The Dragon is one of the most popular pubs in South Derbyshire. Right before the start of the pandemic, we enjoyed a lovely night away at The Dragon Willington. I’m often asked about great places to stay in Derbyshire and thought it’s about time this lovely pub with rooms – and brilliant beer garden – had its own spot on the blog.

The Dragon Willington beer garden
Photo credit: The Dragon at Willington

Brilliant Beer Garden

The Dragon Willington is situated on the Trent and Mersey canal which affords a picturesque setting for the expansive beer garden and courtyard. From here, you can walk along the canal path to nearby Mercia Marina.

Click here for other great places to eat outdoors in Derbyshire.

private dining igloo dome, boho chic, The Dragon Willington
Photo credit: The Dragon at Willington

Domes at The Dragon

The popular igloo domes at The Dragon offer a COVID secure, private and unique dining experience. The Dome interiors are finished to a high standard and are fully lit and heated. Booking essential and there’s a minimum spend of £25 per person.

Stay at The Dragon Willington

Right before the pandemic, we enjoyed a lovely night away at The Dragon Willington. It’s not a fancy hotel, essentially just a pub with rooms. But the room we stayed in was absolutely lovely. You can also bag yourself a bargain if you book ahead. Sunday nights are particularly cheap, I found rooms to book for less than fifty pounds (with free cancellation!), and superior rooms for less than £60.

There are seven rooms at The Cottage. Each individually styled (there are clear photographs on their website). Each has tea and coffee making facilities, iron and ironing board, hairdryer, fan, heater, flat screen TV, WiFi and toiletries. There are five standard double rooms and two superior rooms. Four of the rooms can be made into twin rooms and two of the rooms can accommodate additional beds or travel cots.

bedroom at The Dragon Willington
Our room at The Dragon Willington

I can’t honestly remember whether we had a standard room or a superior but I think the bed was pretty big (we have a super king at home so a regular double now feels teeny tiny, so I’d probably remember that?! ).  

Our room was decorated to a very high spec, with a beautiful, if small, bathroom. The room was well equipped and spotlessly clean. Despite being situated on the main road we weren’t bothered by any noise. The best bit is that you are mere steps away from the lovely pub, making The Dragon Willington a perfect location for a boozy night away!

Sunday dining at The Dragon Willington

It was a Sunday night that we stayed. The Dragon serve their popular Sunday lunch menu all the way up to 8pm so I was pleased that we could still enjoy a good meal. Click here for my recommendations for the best places for a Sunday roast in Derbyshire.

tomato salad The Dragon Willington

The Sunday menu is two courses for £20.95 or three for £25.95. I clearly remember my starter because it was so nice (and wrote about it at the time on Instagram so I’ve got the exact details!). I opted for heritage tomato salad with chicory, red onion, basil crouton and tarragon dressing. This vegan option was deliciously light and fresh.

main courses at The Dragon Willington

Whilst I adore a Sunday roast, I can’t do three courses including a roast dinner, so on this occasion I opted for the fish main course. I can’t remember exactly what it was, but I do remember enjoying it. The fish option listed on the current menu is pan fried sea bass with risotto nero.

My husband had the roast beef, which looked nice, although his Yorkshire pudding was a bit burnt. All the roasts are served with cauliflower cheese, honey and carraway glazed carrots and seasonal greens.

The desserts were amazing! I chose passionfruit and white chocolate cheesecake, which was insanely good. My husband had Eton mess which he enjoyed. Sadly both of these are no longer on the menu, but the current options do look very tasty. There’s a treacle tart, a dark chocolate torte served with raspberry mousse or a lemon cheesecake that all sound divine!

desserts at The Dragon Willington

The service was friendly and there was a nice atmosphere in the pub. It wasn’t overly busy with it being Sunday evening – but no tumbleweed either!

Breakfast at The Dragon Willington

After a restful night’s sleep in the comfy bed, we wandered back to the pub for breakfast. It was surprisingly busy for a Monday morning. The Dragon Willington is open to non-residents too and is clearly popular with locals.

I loved that breakfast was cooked freshly to order. I ordered my favourite avocado toast with poached eggs which I really enjoyed. The husband ordered the Full English and commented on how nice it was. It was also good to get a proper barista coffee.

avocado toast with poached eggs in the foreground and blurred breakfast background

The breakfast menu is really quite expansive. There’s everything you would expect, plus healthy options highlighted, a pancake/waffle menu and a good range of morning tipples (both boozy and healthy options!).

It’s also possible to have a decadent three course champagne breakfast if you order in advance.

Overall we had a lovely stay. This isn’t high end luxury – but it’s a really good example of a pub with rooms. It’s a great pub, the food is lovely and our room was clean and comfortable. The Dragon Willington is great value for a boozy break, a fun night away with friends or loved one.

Go for:

Relaxed, delicious dining in a cosy, contemporary pub environment. Stylish, clean, well equipped rooms.


The Dragon Willington, DE65 6BP, 01283 704795

Dog friendly in the bar area.

Car park.

The pub is part of the Bespoke Inns pub group, a small local chain. Other pubs in the chain include The Boot at Repton, Harpurs in Melbourne (where the vibe is very similar to that at The Dragon) and newly opened Binary Bar and Restaurant in Mickleover on the outskirts of Derby.

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If you enjoyed reading this, why not read my guide to the best cosy pubs in Derbyshire or my round up of the best Derbyshire restaurants.

By Molly Scott

Derbyshire blogger - bringing you the best places to eat, drink, spa and stay in the wider Derbyshire area. Champion of the most fabulous independents.

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