Lockdown doesn’t mean you can’t plan ahead. If anything, use the time to book a Winter getaway at one of our favourite inns. To stay overnight in a lovely bedroom at a pub or inn means leaving your coat on the hook and tottering down to the bar for a meal or a drink – perfect. Here’s 10 of our faves.
The wonderful food receives constant admiration from our readers, but this charming, 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. 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 dining room is attractively decorated with an assortment of cushioned oak dining chairs around a mix of polished tables on terracotta tiles. The garden has colourful herbaceous borders, teak tables and chairs under parasols as well as some picnic-sets.
Reports on this elegant manor house remain as warm and enthusiastic as ever; it’s a very special place. Many of our readers stay in the lovely bedrooms (several have open fires) which are individually furnished and have beautifully restored bathrooms. The civilised bar rooms have handsome old wood furnishings and the pubby main bar has roaring log fires in attractive stone fireplaces. Drinks include a marvellous wine list, 24 whiskies and eight gins; Black Sheep, Moorhouses Blond Witch, Timothy Taylors Landlord and Tirril Ullswater Blonde on handpump.
The inn is set high on the banks of the River Hodder with spectacular views down the valley into the heart of the Forest of Bowland; the riverside bar and adjacent terrace make the most of this outlook. They own several miles of trout, salmon and sea trout fishing on the River Hodder; picnic hamper on request.
As always, our readers love coming here. It’s civilised but friendly and relaxed and both the food and the bedrooms are first class. At lunchtime, the smart little bar draws in those exploring the area. The star attraction then are their own-brewed ales on handpump from the Barngates brewery, including Brathay Gold, Cat Nap, Cracker Ale, Goodhews Dry Stout, Pale, Red Bull Terrier, Tag Lag and Vienna, plus their own weiss beer. The three restaurant areas are elegant and the new lounge area is a huge success offering morning coffee, afternoon tea, cocktails and so forth. Sit at the wooden tables and benches on grass opposite the building for spectacular views across the fells, and if you come in spring or summer the flowering bulbs are lovely.
Cleverly appealing to casual lunchtime customers (many are walkers from Dartmoor National Park) as well as those expecting a more formal evening meal and comfortable overnight stay, this is an especially well run and civilised inn. The two neatly kept, linked, partly panelled bar rooms have lots of dark wood and warming winter log fires (the main fireplace has a fine Stuart fireback). 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. Beamed bedrooms are smart (with either garden or moor views) and are highly regarded by our readers, and breakfasts are excellent.
This is a lovely place to stay with cosy rooms above the inn itself and more spacious ones in a courtyard; breakfasts are particularly good and the setting (opposite the green in a tranquil village) is most attractive. The friendly, bustling main bar is where most people head for first: ancient beams and other atmospheric furnishings, a warming log fire in a stone inglenook, fine old flagstones and sporting memorabilia. To the left, a drinking area has built-in wall benches, stools and dining chairs around wooden tables, rugs on bare boards and a woodburning stove. 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 ten by the glass, 20 malt whiskies and an extensive gin collection.
Locals, walkers and those enjoying the rather smart (yet informal) restaurant all mingle easily here, welcomed by the genuinely friendly and helpful staff. It was built as a guest house in 1235 for the neighbouring premonstratensian monastery and the architecture is remarkable. The Crypt bar is a medieval vaulted room sculpted by thick stone walls, lit by candlelight and with family crests on the ceiling. Hadrian Border Tyneside Blonde, Wylam Red Kite and Lord Crewe Brew (named for the pub from Wylam) on handpump, 14 wines by the glass, ten malt whiskies and a farm cider. One character sitting area has a leather sofa and two big tartan armchairs on flagstones in front of a large open fire, while the grand restaurant features a fine old wooden floor. It’s a real treat to stay in the bedrooms, which range from cosy to luxury suites. Derwent Reservoir is nearby.
A very special place to stay, the opulent bedrooms here have four-posters, antiques and carved fireplaces. This is a civilised and imposing building that’s based around a great hall built for the Abbot of Cleeve some 500 years ago; many of the medieval features are lovely. Exmoor Ale and Otter Amber on handpump, 25 good wines by the glass, a dozen malt whiskies and three farm ciders; staff are courteous and helpful. There’s also the Boot Bar with a lovely panelled wall seat and rugs on quarry tiles, a small snug and a deeply comfortable sitting room with one beautiful panelled wall, a woodburning stove and plenty of armchairs. The pretty garden is on several levels with seats on lawns or terraces and haunting castle views; a little galleried courtyard has metalwork chairs and tables.
This is a smashing little all-rounder – as reflected by the warm reports we receive. You’ll get a genuine welcome from the hands-on licensees and the lovely old bar has beams, pubby tables and chairs on an old wooden floor, and a fine log fire in an inglenook fireplace. 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, over 20 wines by the glass or carafe (plus six locally made sparkling wines) from a carefully chosen list, and a growing list of non-alcoholic choices. Bedrooms are comfortable and well equipped and breakfasts are particularly good. Steam train enthusiasts can visit the Bluebell Railway, and the Priest House in the village is a fascinating museum in a cottage endowed with an extraordinary array of ancient anti-witch symbols.
A perfect base for exploring the fine surroundings of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, this delightful Georgian coaching inn is run by long-serving owners who welcome damp dog walkers just as warmly as those out for a special meal. Black Sheep Best and Holy Grail and Theakstons Best on handpump, an impressive wine list including 16 (plus champagne) by the glass and 20 malt whiskies. The candlelit, high-ceilinged and elegant dining room has another open fire. Picnic-sets on the gravel outside look beyond the stone houses on the far side of the village green to Witton Fell, and there’s a large, attractive back garden. The comfortable bedrooms have pretty country furnishings; some are in the main house, others in converted stables across the courtyard (these are dog-friendly).
Guests have been coming here for 500 years and the long-serving family in charge continue to offer a warm and genuine welcome to all. The bustling bar has a wide mix of customers, heavy beams, little plush-seated bentwood armchairs and handsome old cushioned settles, fresh flowers on tables, and a window seat that looks down on the market square. Brains Rev James, Caledonian Deuchars IPA, Grey Trees Afghan Pale and Wadworths 6X on handpump, alongside 35 malt whiskies, 30 gins, local ciders, vintage and late-bottled ports and unusual wines (with 11 by the glass). Reception rooms are comfortably furnished, and there are seats in the small garden. This is a particularly appealing place to stay with quite a choice of bedrooms: the older ones in the main building have antiques, others are in a country style and the luxury ones have hot tubs and four-poster beds.