Our favourite new pubs to while away the bank holiday

It’s always exciting to discover new pubs and our Top 10 for 2021 are spread across Britain. When so many more of us are holidaying on the Isles this August, what better way to spend this Bank Holiday than by  paying a visit to one or more of our cream of the crop. Enjoy! Boat,…

It’s always exciting to discover new pubs and our Top 10 for 2021 are spread across Britain. When so many more of us are holidaying on the Isles this August, what better way to spend this Bank Holiday than by  paying a visit to one or more of our cream of the crop. Enjoy!

Boat, Erbistock

Winner of New Pub of the Year 2021.

In a pretty setting almost alone by a church and on the banks of the River Dee, this is a lovely 17th-c golden-stone inn with seats and tables on a terrace overlooking the water. Inside, the beamed and flagstoned interior has been carefully refurbished while preserving its old-fashioned charm and easy-going country atmosphere. A rambling warren of rooms includes the chatty bar where courteous, helpful staff serve five real ales on handump such as Salopian or Weetwood with at least three regional beers (from Wales, Shropshire and Cheshire) and an impressive 30-plus wines by the glass; they also distil their own gin, the Spirit of Erbistock.

The Best of the Rest

Queen’s Arms, Somerset

Everyone mixes easily in this honey-coloured stone inn surrounded by glorious countryside. The bustling, high-beamed bar has rugs on flagstones and two big armchairs. There’s also a couple of dining rooms one of which has a drop-down cinema screen (screenings are held twice a month). They keep four regularly changing ales from breweries such as Bath, Cheddar, Exmoor and Otter on handpump, 22 wines (including champagne) by the glass from a carefully chosen list, more than 50 malt whiskies, 21 gins, unusual bottled beers from Belgium, Germany and the USA, cocktails and four local ciders and apple juices. The south-facing back terrace has teak tables and chairs under parasols, outdoor heaters for chillier weather and colourful flower tubs. Cadbury Castle hill fort is not far away and there are fine walks nearby.

Chequers, Oxfordshire

The sumptuously furnishings of this appealing, honey-coloured pub are a precursor to the impressive food and drink that awaits. There’s Clavel & Hind Blunderbuss, Hook Norton Hooky, Gloucester Birdlip and Sharps Doom Bar on handpump, 17 wines by the glass (including champagne), 12 malt whiskies, mocktails and a farm cider; darts, newspapers and background music. The landscaped and flagstoned back terrace has lots of good quality wooden chairs and tables and climbing plants. This is a pretty village and the church opposite is impressive and worth a visit.

Kings Arms, Northumbria

Refurbished and reopened by an enthusiastic chef-patron and his wife, this busy little place is in a quiet, leafy village. Most customers are here for the particularly good food, but there is also a small bar with leather armchairs, high chairs and a friendly welcome. There’s a couple of real ales on handpump and well chosen wines by the glass. A restaurant extension at the back has button-back banquette wall seating, books on shelves and a few local pictures, and there’s a woodburning stove. There are seats and tables outside at the front and to the side.

The Five Bells Inn, Kent

At the foot of the North Downs, this 16th-c inn is a fine place to spend a few days in comfortable bedrooms; lovely surrounding walks. Downstairs, the opened-up bars have hop-festooned beams, standing timbers and ancient brick walls. Ales include their own house beer Pickled Egg Pale Ale, Old Dairy Summer Haze and a couple of changing locals such as Pig & Porter Skylarking and Tonbridge Blonde Ambition; also, Aspall’s and Dudda’s Tun ciders on draught and 16 well chosen wines by the glass. There are plenty of tables and chairs under cover out front.

Baiting House, Herefordshire

This smartly refurbished 19th-c country inn on the Worcestershire border sits at the top of a hill above the Teme Valley. The bars have flagstones and wood-strip flooring, stools and window seats and friendly, helpful staff who serve five well kept ales including Wye Valley and guests from Hobsons and Ludlow on handpump, several wines by the glass, local cider and a good choice of gins. The dining areas (dogs are allowed in one of these) are traditionally furnished with more bare boards and flagstones. There are seats, tables and picnic-sets on a back brick terrace and raised lawn, surrounded by fields.

Fox & Barrel, Cheshire

Built in the 1700s, this historic white-walled pub (supposedly named after a fox found hiding in a barrel in the cellar) has been given a classy update to bring more light into its capacious interior and to create a more atmospheric dining experience. Four well kept beers are available on handpump from the likes of Weetwood and Storm, and there are over 40 gins, plus cocktails and a well conceived wine list featuring champagne and prosecco by the glass. Staff are smart and attentive. Outside, the front terrace has plenty of well presented tables and chairs under parasols and, at the back, there are picnic-sets on grass and some nice old fruit trees.

Three Hills, Cambridgeshire

In a tiny village, this country inn has been attractively modernised and is very much the community hub. It’s a friendly place with a genuine welcome for all. Most customers head straight for the cosy beamed bar. Here you’ll find two or three changing ales on handpump from breweries such as Marston, Woodfordes and Wolf, as well as 15 wines by the glass. This leads into a cosy snug with sofas and armchairs. The light and airy restaurant with its apex ceiling and skylight windows has wicker bull’s heads and modern artwork on the walls above contemporary seats and tables. You can also dine outside on the expansive terrace and enjoy the landscaped garden that runs down to the little River Granta.

Pointer, Buckinghamshire

Unusually, this handsome place is a pub-cum-restaurant-cum-butchery business and all the meat comes from their own livestock herds and neighbouring farms. House ales come from XT Brewery, and there’s a solid list of artisan spirits and liqueurs, and a thoughtfully curated wine list, all served by friendly, attentive staff. The airy and attractive restaurant has antique Ercol chairs around pale oak tables and cushioned window seats. French windows open on to the sizeable garden. Tolkien is said to have based the village of Bree in The Lord of the Rings on this pretty village.

Swan, Oxfordshire

Extensively refurbished in 2019, this 16th-c coaching inn is in a lovely spot opposite the village church. The impressive array of drinks includes well kept Butcombe Best, Clavell & Hind Blunderbuss and Hook Norton Hooky, local and French ciders, 15 wines by the glass (including prosecco and champagne), several sherries, cocktails and a good choice of spirits. The restaurant, with its seagrass flooring, has some striking wallpaper, a woodburning stove and lavish flower arrangements. There are seats and tables in a back courtyard garden. The inn is handy for the Oxfordshire Way and Wychwood Way.