The latest edition of The Good Hotel Guide includes some exciting new entries, from great gastropubs and smart B&Bs to old favourites in new guises. Here is the editor’s pick of the best hotel discoveries for 2020.
23 Mayfield, Edinburgh
Home-made fudge, 1830s Punch cartoons, a carved mahogany bed, rainfall shower and Noble Isle toiletries were among the delights that won approval this year for Ross Birnie’s B&B. The Victorian house is replete with original features. Guests can breakfast on porridge with malt whisky and flambéed fruit, tattie scone, haggis, peat-smoked haddock, then curl up with a vintage book or play chess at a Georgian chess table, relax in the front garden, stroll or hop on a bus to the city centre.
B&B (single, double, family room) £120-£250. 0131 667 580623, mayfield.co.uk
The Duncombe Arms Ellastone, Staffordshire
This village pub on the edge of the Peak District was boarded up and decaying when Johnny and Laura Greenall brought it back to life. They opened for business in 2012, and this year added ten smart bedrooms in the Walnut House annexe, each with artisan wallpaper, home-baked biscuits, a coffee machine, Bamford toiletries, artworks for sale. A fire blazes in the cosy bar. Menus run from pub classics to such dishes as Derbyshire lamb rump, caramelised onion, ewe’s curd, baby turnip and oats, with good veggie choices.
B&B £160–£190. À la carte £40, market menu (Mon–Thurs) £18.50–£22.50. 01335 324 275, duncombearms.co.uk
The Pig at Bridge Place, Bridge, Kent
The latest addition to Robin Hutson’s porcine collection occupies a Jacobean manor house and former music venue near Canterbury. Expect the signature shabby-chic style. Bedrooms range from very snug to hideaway suites, to ‘hop-pickers’ huts’ on stilts in a water meadow. In the restaurant, food is home grown or sourced as locally as possible. Maybe chargrilled Brogdale pork tomahawk, garden greens, cider, brandy and mustard sauce; Rye-landed fillet of plaice, capers and brown butter sauce. On fine days guests can pig out on flat breads from the outdoor oven, with fire-pit meats in the walled kitchen garden.
£99-£455. Breakfast buffet £12, cooked breakfast £16, à la carte. 0345 2259494, thepighotel.com/at-bridge-place
The Devonshire Arms, Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire
Paintings from the Chatsworth art collection adorn the walls of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire’s luxury hotel and spa on the Bolton Abbey estate. The most characterful bedrooms are in the old wing, but those in the new wing have panoramic views through large windows. All are individually styled, with a coffee machine and mini fridge. You can take afternoon tea– as the Brontë sisters did here– but do save room for dinner in the brasserie, or for Paul Leonard’s imaginative cooking in the restaurant. Typical dishes, loin of North Sea cod, nasturtium, mussels, girolles; Yorkshire hogget, garden courgette, sheep’s curd.
B&B £149–£379. À la carte £35 (brasserie), £75 (restaurant) tasting menu £85. 01756 718100, thedevonshirearms.co.uk
The Lord Poulett Arms, Hinton St George, Somerset
Snapped up last year by the winning team behind The Talbot in Mells and The Beckford Arms, Tisbury, this 17th-century thatched village pub is brimming with quirky character. Rustic-chic bedrooms – some with in-room slipper bath – have a king-size or super-king bed, and are supplied with Bramley toiletries. Food choices range from a pub platter and fish and chips to such inventive dishes as pan-seared sea bream, hummus, roast Romanesco, tomato and olive dressing. As pubs-with-rooms go, say Guide inspectors, this one is “as good as it gets”.
B&B per room single £75–£110. À la carte £35. 01460 731 49, lordpoulettarms.com
St Tudy Inn, St Tudy, Cornwall
In a pretty village close to Bodmin Moor, this 17th-century inn is owned by Bordeaux winemaker Mark Hellyar with talented young chef-patron Emily Scott. Interiors have a stripped-back style, with garden flowers, beer-key stools, restful Farrow & Ball grey ‘whites’, books in crates, and prints by Ms Scott’s illustrator sister-in-law Nicole Heidaripour. Four bedrooms, in a converted barn, are supplied with a coffee machine, home-made treats, Bramley toiletries. Menus are big on seasonality and sustainability. Maybe Cadgwith Bay ray wing, brown shrimp, caper butter; pan-roasted chicken thighs, Puy lentils, smoked pimento, serrano ham, parsley – or good old cod and chips.
B&B £150–£165, D,B&B £210–£225. 2-nights minimum stay at weekends. 01298 850 656, sttudyinn.com
The Old Manor House, Halford, Warwickshire
Tea and home-baked biscuits await new arrivals at Jane and William Pusey’s Tudor manor house in landscaped grounds. Interiors are filled with handsome antiques. The three bedrooms are comfortable and well appointed, with views variously of the gardens and River Stour. Jane cooks breakfast with local bacon, home-baked organic bread, organic yoghurts, muesli and granola. She will also prepare a light supper, and guests can order a picnic before making the seven-mile pilgrimage to Shakespeare’s Stratford. The two retrievers-in-residence welcome guests’ dogs by prior arrangement (£15).
Children aged six upwards welcomed. B&B single £65–£85, double £110–£120. 01789 740264, oldmanor-halford.co.uk
The Great House, Lavenham, Suffolk
This medieval timber-framed house behind a Georgian façade was long run as a restaurant-with-rooms by a popular French family. It changed hands last year, and returns to the Guide under Dominique Tropeano, owner of Colchester Zoo. The five bedrooms retain a quirky ambience. Far from durance vile, Bastille proved a delight, with a separate sitting area, minibar and a decanter of sherry. Versailles, overlooking the marketplace, has a Jacobean four-poster, a sitting room with fireplace. Chef Guillaume Dericq cooks traditional dishes with a twist. Maybe halibut steamed with courgette and lemon grass puree, sautéed patty pans, lemon grass foam.
B&B £164–£184 (continental breakfast; cooked breakfast £6). Set dinner £37.50, à la carte £46. 01787 247 431, greathouse.co.uk
The Coach House, Brecon, Powys
Whether you come for the October Baroque Music Festival, or to explore the Brecon Beacons National Park, you’ll receive a warm welcome at Kayt and Hugh Cooper’s Georgian town house B&B. Bedrooms are contemporary in style, decorated in restful shades, and range from a ‘classic’ with king-size bed, to a suite with a large sitting area, a fridge with fresh milk, a bath and separate shower. At breakfast there are local sausages and bacon, local preserves, free-range eggs, Welsh rarebit, pikelets, laver bread. Brecon offers a good choice of local eating places, while the Felin Fach Griffin dining pub, a Guide favourite, is a short drive away.
B&B single £74–£155, double £79–£160. Children 15 and over welcome. 01874 620 043, coachhousebrecon.com
Ship Inn, Elie, Fife
Catch of the day might mean the freshest haddock or a bravura act of fielding at the only pub in Britain with its own beach cricket team. Overlooking the Firth of Forth, it has been transformed in the past five years by Rachel and Graham Bucknall, who also own the excellent Bridge at Ratho, and, like Cley Windmill, gains promotion from the Guide Shortlist this year. Pub classics are served in the bar, more adventurous fare in the restaurant. Admiral Room, at the top, has great beach views. All bedrooms have an espresso machine, Siabann toiletries and a good tea selection of teas. “A belter”, our inspectors declare.
B&B per person £110–£185, child’s bed £30. À la carte £35 (vegetarian/vegan £27). 01333 330 246, shipinn.scot
The new 2020 edition of the Good Hotel Guide is available now.