From ancient coaching inns and grand ancestral homes, to lodgings in the precincts of a ruined priory, The Good Hotel Guide is our go-to for properties steeped in history, with stories to tell. Here is a selection of some of the Guide’s best historic hotels
A Georgian house on Soho’s Frith Street is named in honour of the essayist William Hazlitt, who lodged and died here in poverty. He would not know it as it is today, so opulent and civilised. The interiors are embellished with oil paintings and antiques. Bedrooms have a carved oak bed or richly draped four-poster. Bathrooms retain vintage fittings. There are throne loos, sloping floors, fine china for afternoon tea, a resident cat named Sir Godfrey.
B&B from £288, à la carte £25. 020 7434 1771, hazlittshotel.com
Log fires burn in the bar and in cosy sitting rooms, all Cotswold stone and ancient timbers, at this traditional inn on a quaint side street in a market town on the River Windrush. A hotel since 1700, The Lamb was contrived from 15th-century weavers’ cottages. Bedrooms – one with a four-poster – have such modern luxuries as a capsule coffee machine and plasma-screen TV, along with such homely touches as freshly baked flapjacks. On sunny days you can eat in the walled garden.
B&B from £190–£300. Set dinner £45. 01993 823155, cotswold-inns-hotels.co.uk/the-lamb-inn
Guests can sleep in a four-poster in the suite where Charles I and his supporters assembled, with the royal coat of arms above the fireplace, at this former coaching inn, which traces its roots to the 1300s. Or there’s the Cromwell Room, where Old Ironsides slept before the Battle of Worcester (clearly the innkeeper wasn’t taking sides). The present building dates from 1620. Public rooms have panelled walls, the dining room a minstrel’s gallery, but facilities are bang up to date.
B&B £205 – £465, à la carte £36. 01386 852 255, lygonarmshotel.co.uk
On a far grander scale, this Jacobean-cum0-Georgian mansion stands in an Arcadian landscape, with lake and follies, its interior a treasure trove of fine antiques and artworks. The exiled Louise XVIII with Queen Marie-Joséphine and a court of 200 aristocrats stayed here for five years from 1809, kept rabbits on the roof and trashed the place. Today’s well-mannered guests discover a Great Hall in the baroque style with plasterwork by Italian masters, and a staircase adorned with statues, leading to large bedrooms and lavish suites.
B&B £200-£750, à la carte £55. 01296 747 444, hartwell-house.com
A romantic Elizabethan manor built by ironmaster Richard Infield for his bride, Katharine Compton, still bears their initials above the door. It is today a first-class luxury hotel, in 1,000 acres of woodland, with gardens laid out by gardener and botanist, William Robinson, who lived here until his death in 1935. Within there are log fires, cut flowers, dark panelled walls, period furniture. Some bedrooms, named after a specimen tree on the estate, have a four-poster. Chef George Bloggs holds a Michelin star.
B&B £278–£850. Menus £35–£90. 01342 810567, gravetyemanor.co.uk
Less grand, more affordable, this traditional Derbyshire manor house, in eight-acre grounds, has the date 1672 carved into a stone fireplace in the oak-panelled hall. Some stone-mullioned, leaded windows, blocked out to avoid the window tax, have recently been uncovered. A master suite has a four-poster. Good, unpretentious fare is served in a stone-walled dining room warmed by two log fires. The hotel is popular with walkers and dog-owners, who come to explore the Peak District national park.
B&B £80–£160, à la carte £28. 01298 84451, bigginhall.co.uk
On a cobbled street in this medieval Cinque Port town, a 17th-century wool store combines with the adjoining men’s club and Elders’ House as an atmospheric B&B. Behind the ivy-clad façade are higgledy-piggledy, beamed interiors, with sloping floors, steep stairs, dark panelling. Four-poster suites are named after writers, artists and reformers with close associations to the house. A historic breakfast is served in the galleried former chapel.
B&B £99–£130. 01797 222828, jeakeshouse.com
Set in parkland laid out by Walter Sarel, this is to all appearances a Jacobean manor house, and, indeed, the hall chimneypiece bears the date 1626. Yet the whole confection is the creation of the Revd Sabine Baring-Gould, a driven, erratic, multi-talented Victorian best known for penning Onward Christian Soldiers. From 1881 he rebuilt Lew House, incorporating Renaissance woodwork, a Jacobean ceiling, a ballroom with rococo fireplace. One bedroom has a four-poster that once belonged to Charles I’s wife, Henrietta Maria.
B&B single from £165, double from £200, set dinner £50. 01566 783 222, lewtrenchard.co.uk
Now here is the real thing, a stone manor house, Jacobean to its bones, with leaded, stone-mullioned windows. Set in Thomas Hardy country, it is the ancestral home of the Prideaux-Brune family, jovial hosts who offer guests (with guns and dogs, if that’s their thing) an authentic country house escape. A first-floor gallery is hung with portraits of forebears, and is home to a grand piano. The owners’ beautiful grandmother looks down from the dining room wall.
B&B single from £120, double from £160, set dinner £40. 01258 472 507, plumbermanor.co.uk
Within the precincts of a ruined Augustinian abbey, this hotel occupies what may have been the prior’s lodgings, and incorporates a Grade I-listed medieval tower. From 1807 the property was home to poet Walter Savage Landor, who planted many of the trees we see today. Do not expect mod cons. But if sharing a bathroom reached by a stone spiral staircase feels like a penance, the peace, the beauty, the open fire in the lounge and snug bar in the undercroft are consolations.
B&B single from £75, double from £95. 01873 890 487, llanthonyprioryhotel.co.uk
For more historic hotels, see www.goodhotelguide.com