Our Top 10 Inns for an Autumnal Break

If you’re looking for a quick Autumnal getaway, you won’t do much better then checking out our Top 10 Country Inns for somewhere special to spend a few days in beautiful countryside or in a lovely old town where you can enjoy delicious food, a convivial bar and sumptuous bedrooms. Kings Head, Bledington, Gloucestershire  Inn…

If you’re looking for a quick Autumnal getaway, you won’t do much better then checking out our Top 10 Country Inns for somewhere special to spend a few days in beautiful countryside or in a lovely old town where you can enjoy delicious food, a convivial bar and sumptuous bedrooms.

Kings Head, Bledington, Gloucestershire 

Inn of the Year, 2021

In a picturesque location opposite the green in a tranquil village, this smart yet cosy inn charms readers year after year – it’s a winner in every way. It’s a lovely place to stay, with six rooms above the inn itself and another six more spacious ones around a courtyard, all imaginatively and elegantly furnished; breakfasts are particularly good. Attentive, welcoming staff serve Hook Norton Hooky and guests from breweries such as Butcombe, Prescott, Purity and Wye Valley on handpump, a super wine list with 15 by the glass, an excellent choice of malt whiskies and gins. There are seats out in front and rattan-style armchairs around tables in the pretty back courtyard garden with a pagoda; maybe free-range bantams and ducks.

Drunken Duck, Hawkshead, Cumbria

This smart little inn with its own well established brewery (Barngates) sits prettily at a crossroads in scenic open country. Civilised, but friendly and relaxed, it’s popular with our readers ‘and walkers’ and can be busy, particularly at lunchtimes. The star attractions are the six Barngates ales on handpump including Brathay Gold, Cat Nap, Chesters, Cracker Ale and Red Bull Terrier; there are also two of their craft lagers, a stout and a weiss beer. They also offer 16 wines by the glass (including pudding wines) from a fine list, 25 malt whiskies and 17 gins (they add their own botanicals to some of these). The 13 individually designed bedrooms are first class. Sit at the wooden tables and benches on grass opposite the building for stunning views across the fells.

Rock, Haytor Vale, Devon

This is an especially well run and civilised inn. Many of the casual lunchtime customers are walkers exploring Dartmoor National Park, but the pub also attracts those wanting a more formal evening meal and comfortable overnight stay. Dartmoor Jail Ale and Exeter Avocet on handpump, 15 wines (plus champagne and sparkling rosé) by the glass and 20 malt whiskies. There’s also a light and spacious dining room in the lower part of the inn and a residents’ lounge. The large, pretty garden opposite has some seats, with more on the little terrace next to the pub. The nine beamed bedrooms are smart (with either garden or moor views) and are highly regarded by our readers, and breakfasts are excellent.

The New Inn, Cerne Abbas, Dorset

That famously endowed giant etched into the chalk hillside is just a walk away from this welcoming old inn, built centuries ago as a guest house for the nearby Benedictine abbey. Once you’re ensconced, it’s hard to drag yourself away. Original oak beams, mullioned windows and a pump and mounting block in the former coachyard add to its charms. Palmers Copper, Dorset Gold, IPA and 200 on handpump, ten wines by the glass, several malt whiskies and local cider. The ten bedrooms are smart and well equipped and located in either the charming 16th-c main building or a converted stable block. The whole package sits prettily in the chocolate-box village.

Wellington Arms, Baughurst, Hampshire

Garlanded with awards, this neatly appointed inn, standing in its own extensive well-tended grounds, embodies every rural charm a visitor could wish for ‘ right down to productive bees and chickens contributing to the menu. Dog lovers will also be delighted by the resident pooches: Norfolk terriers Vincent and Ritchie. A thoughtful choice of drinks includes Longdog Bunny Chaser and West Berkshire Good Old Boy on handpump, 12 wines by the glass from a smashing list, farm ciders, good aperitifs and home-made elderflower cordial. The food receives constant admiration from our readers, and this immaculately kept and pretty little spot is also a lovely place to stay, with four deeply comfortable and very well equipped bedrooms; breakfasts are first class: ‘your breakfast eggs were either laid today or yesterday’.

Lord Crewe Arms, Blanchland, Northumbria

It might sound like a pub, but the Lord Crewe is in fact a lovely hotel with a modern country style that maps harmoniously on to the historic building: it was built as a guest house for the neighbouring monastery in the 12th c and the architecture is remarkable. The Crypt bar is a medieval vaulted room with thick stone walls, lit by chandeliers and with family crests on the ceiling. Crewe Brew (named for the pub from Twice Brewed) and two other Northumbrian ales on handpump, more than a dozen wines by the glass, a notable gin list, expertly made cocktails and a tap cider. Locals, walkers and diners enjoying an aperitif mingle easily here, welcomed by the genuinely friendly and helpful staff. It’s a real treat to stay in one of the 21 bedrooms, which range from cosy to luxury suites, some with their own woodburners; breakfast is excellent. Derwent Reservoir is nearby.

Cat, West Hoathly, Sussex

You’ll get a genuine welcome from the hands-on licensees at this attractive country dining pub. Harveys Best and Old Ale and guests such as Bedlam Hibernation, Firebird Parody Session IPA and Larkins Traditional on handpump, as well as two local farm ciders, local apple juice, more than 30 wines by the glass or carafe (plus six locally made sparkling wines) from a carefully chosen list and plenty of non-alcoholic choices. Look out for the glass cover over the 75-ft deep well. The four bedrooms are comfortable and well equipped and breakfasts are particularly good.

Blue Lion, East Witton, Yorkshire

This delightful Georgian coaching inn has for many years been known to provide the highest quality food in exquisite surroundings. It’s the perfect choice if you want to explore the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and the long-serving owners welcome damp dog walkers just as warmly as those out for a special meal. There are three ales including Black Sheep Best on handpump, an impressive wine list including 12 (plus champagne) by the glass, 11 gins and 21 malt whiskies. The candlelit, high-ceilinged and elegant dining room has another open fire. The 15 comfortable bedrooms have pretty country furnishings; some are in the main house, others in converted stables across the courtyard (these are dog-friendly).

Red Lion, East Chisenbury, Wiltshire

It’s the superb food cooked by Mr and Mrs Manning (both are top chefs) that draws customers from far and wide, but this is also a proper pub where locals congregate by the bar for a pint and a chat. You’ll find Ramsbury Blindside, Box and Stonehenge ales on handpump, 24 wines by the glass, home-made cordials, quite a range of gins and a dozen malt whiskies. They make their own dog treats and can organise a packed lunch for walkers. Just across the road from the pub is their boutique guesthouse, Troutbeck. The five well equipped and extremely comfortable bedrooms have private decks overlooking the River Avon and breakfasts are delicious; the bloody marys and bucks fizz are complimentary.

Inn at Whitewell, Whitewell, Lancashire

This elegant and sprawling manor house cuts an imposing silhouette against the surrounding landscape ‘ it’s situated high on the banks of the River Hodder, with spectacular views across the water to the Forest of Bowland. Visitors often choose to stay in one of its 23 lovely bedrooms or separate holiday cottage, the Piggeries: charming and individually furnished with beautifully restored bathrooms, several have open fires; breakfasts are excellent. Drinks include a marvellous wine list of around 230 wines with 26 by the glass (there’s also an excellent on-site wine shop), 24 whiskies, eight gins, a fine selection of soft drinks, and Black Sheep, Moorhouses Blonde Witch, Timothy Taylors Landlord and Tirril Ullswater Blonde on handpump. The riverside bar and adjacent terrace make the most of the scenic views, and they own several miles of trout, salmon and sea trout fishing on the river (picnic hampers on request).