When it comes to my Guildford speciality coffee roundups during the COVID-19 pandemic, The Hideout, on the University of Surrey’s Stag Hill campus, is very much the forgotten party (by me, that is). The fact is, other than a short break during the early months of the pandemic (when the students went home), The Hideout has been open throughout the pandemic. My excuse, for what it’s worth, is that I’m hardly ever on that side of the river unless I’m going to Surrey Scorchers games at the weekend, when The Hideout is closed.
However, following my latest roundup, I thought I should rectify this oversight, so yesterday I popped up to a surprisingly busy campus to catch up with Beau and Charlie, the pair behind The Hideout. There have, inevitably, been some COVID-19 related changes, but the good news is that The Hideout is going strong after a lean time over the winter (when very few students were on campus). Best of all, the coffee, from old friends Union Hand-roasted, is as good as ever!
You can see what I found after the gallery.
I first visited The Hideout a month after it opened in 2019. Back then, Beau and Charlie were still working on the building, so the first thing that struck me on my return was the huge sign above the door: no chance of me not finding The Hideout this time around! There’s also the inevitable COVID-19 signage, showing where to queue, plus hand-sanitiser dispensers on the wall to the left of the door, where a table and bench used to be.
On my previous visit, a couple of tables sheltered under the eaves at the front of The Hideout. Now there’s a pair of chairs, plus a table under the eaves, with two more tables out in the sun between the large potted bushes. You’re welcome to sit here with your coffee or, if you prefer, cross the road and sit on the grass opposite.
The biggest change, which is less obvious at first sight, is the addition of a collection door at the left-hand end of the building (the door, an old fire door, was always there, by the way). There’s also a large A-board with details of the ordering app, Round, which I ignored (more on this later).
The changes are more noticeable inside. The seating is still ahead of you/to your right, but the number of tables has been thinned out. By an interesting quirk of the COVID-19 regulations, students/staff can sit inside The Hideout (being neither, I sat outside). This comes with quite strict social distancing rules limiting how many people (and from what household, to reduce mixing) can occupy each table. Each table has a notice which clearly displays its capacity, along with a QR Code for checking in to the NHS App.
The counter, meanwhile, is off to the left, where you used to order and collect your drinks. These days you’re greeted by a large chalkboard with the word “STOP” at the top. It turns out that I should have paid more attention to the A-board outside: you can only order (and pay) via the app, so other than to say hi to Beau and Charlie (which you should do, by the way), there’s no point going inside, where you can neither order nor pay. Instead, it’s all done on the app, after which, as if by magic, your drink appears at the collection door at the far end.
I dutifully went outside, downloaded the app, created an account, ordered a flat white, entered my card details and paid for it. Although a bit of a faff, it was perfectly straightforward, taking me a couple of minutes at most. Plus, of course, I’m now set up on Round, which, I believe, is quite widely accepted. Sadly, my flat white arrived in a disposable cup: part of the conditions on The Hideout’s reopening is that it can’t use proper cups anymore, nor it accept customers’ own cups.
This was quite a blow for Beau and Charlie, who led the way when they opened by refusing to use disposable takeaway cups. However, as the COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease, they are hoping to get back to this policy, while they also have some other interesting changes in the pipeline (which I’ll let them announce when they’re ready) to make The Hideout even more sustainable.
Returning to the coffee, The Hideout offers a concise, espresso-based menu (using Union Hand-roasted‘s Brightnote blend), a range of teas, plus a small selection of pastries and toasties for lunch. My coffee was excellent, the Brightnote blend going perfectly with the milk for a very smooth flat white. Definitely worth a detour over the river!
|UNIVERSITY OF SURREY • GUILDFORD • GU2 7XS|
|Monday||09:00 – 16:00||Roaster||Union Hand-roasted (espresso only)|
|Tuesday||09:00 – 16:00||Seating||Tables, Window Bar; Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||09:00 – 16:00||Food||Pastries, Toasties|
|Thursday||09:00 – 16:00||Service||Order by App/Collect|
|Friday||09:00 – 16:00||Payment||Round App|
|Saturday||CLOSED||Wifi||Free (with registration)|
|Chain||No||Visits||Original: 29th October 2019
Update: 20th April 2021
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