When travel can recommence, book into one of these great British inns and treasure that long overdue weekend away
The British public house has evolved over the past few decades, with old spit-and-sawdust boozers either forced to close or re-imagined into ever-more stylish, truly hospitable places to stay. Impressive menus and first-rate accommodation are now the norm. Here are ten of the best, chosen by The Good Hotel Guide.
THE ROSE AND CROWN, SNETTISHAM, NORFOLK
Roses romp over the whitewashed façade of this 14th-century village pub, created to accommodate workmen building St Mary’s church. Bedrooms are decorated in seaside colours (the unspoilt coast is two miles away) and supplied with books, magazines, posh toiletries. Dogs and children are welcome. You can drink real ale by a log fire in the cosy bar, raise a glass of Pimm’s in the walled garden. The menu runs from pub classics to more imaginative dishes. Maybe flat-iron chicken, sweet potato mash, corn of the cob, Boston beans, okra tempura.
B&B single £100, double £120. À la carte £30. 01485 541382, roseandcrownsnettisham.co.uk
ROSE AND CROWN, ROMALDKIRK, CO. DURHAM
Guide readers love this 18th-century coaching inn beside the Saxon church in a quiet Teesdale village, the perfect blend of friendly local drop-in, restaurant and hotel. The owners have farmed in the area for four generations and are passionate about local produce. Chef David Hunter’s eclectic menus, in the bar and oak-panelled restaurant, include such dishes as outdoor-reared pork loin chop, colcannon, alliums, crackling, rosemary jus. Inn bedrooms have exposed beams, antiques and locally made furniture. Annexe rooms are more contemporary, with an outdoor seating area.
B&B £120–£205, à la carte £40. 01833 650213, rose-and-crown.co.uk
THE STAR INN, HAROME, YORKSHIRE
An ancient thatched pub lies at the heart of this characterful village hostelry on the edge of the moors, with a lovely garden, and accommodation in a rustic building opposite. Bedrooms have some quirky features – a snooker table, a piano – but style and comfort are not compromised. Owner Andrew Pern holds a Michelin star for his ways with local and home-grown, shot, farmed, fished and foraged ingredients, with plenty of veggie options. A typical dish: marmalade-glazed Swaledale mallard, pickle, clove-studded ham hock tartlet, smoked apple, Yorkshire sauce. Or just order a pint and a ‘posh ploughman’s’ at the hand-carved oak bar.
B&B £150-£240, market menu £25, à la carte £60, tasting menu £85. 01439 770397, thestaratharome.co.uk
MONTAGU ARMS, BEAULIEU, HAMPSHIRE
This tile-hung, wisteria-draped, Tudor-Jacobean-style hostelry was newly built when Sherlock Holmes’s creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, stayed here in 1889. In the lovely setting in the New Forest, the inn looks across Beaulieu (pronounced ‘Bewley’) water to Palace House, seat of the Montagu family since 1538, and home to the National Motor Museum. Hotel bedrooms are smart, most with a hand-made king-size bed. There is high-class cooking in the Terrace Restaurant by local man Matthew Whitefield, back from a stint at New York’s Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park. Excellent, cheaper fare and real ales are served in Monty’s Inn.
B&B £219–£399. Tasting menu £90, à la carte £60 (restaurant), £30 (Monty’s Inn). 01590 612324, montaguarmshotel.co.uk
THE SUN INN, DEDHAM, ESSEX
Lovers of John Constable can borrow a bike or walk along the River Stour to explore his native Dedham Vale, from this yellow-painted, 15th-century coaching inn. The locals’ bar, lounge and beamed dining room exude comfort and bonhomie. A changing menu brings such dishes as pasta, risotto, Merrifield Farm chicken breast, leg and ham hock pie, chanterelles, creamed spinach. Individually styled bedrooms vary in size. ‘Constable’ has a half-tester bed and a view of St Mary’s Church, home to Constable’s ‘The Ascension’ and a pew dedicated to the people of Dedham, Massachusetts, whose forebears set off from here.
B&B single £90–£135, double £150. À la carte £28.50. 01206 323351, thesuninndedham.com
ACORN INN, EVERSHOT, DORSET
In Thomas Hardy’s Wessex, this 16th-century coaching inn appears in Tess of the D’Urbervilles, thinly disguised as the ‘Sow and Acorn’. Individually styled bedrooms range from snug to suites. ‘Hardy’ has a carved antique four-poster. An eclectic menu includes such dishes as rump of Dorset Horn lamb, textures of onion, roasted rosemary potatoes, ewe’s curd and buttered cavolo nero, alongside a signature burger, fish and chips, Thai red chicken curry. Tess chose not to breakfast at the inn. The modern traveller should not make that mistake, when local sausages, Dorset ham, and bread from the village bakery are on offer.
B&B £105–£230. À la carte £35. 01935 83228, acorn-inn.co.uk
THE LORD POULETT ARMS, HINTON ST GEORGE, SOMERSET
Residents of this picturesque village have the UK’s highest life expectancy. With the gentle countryside all around, and this 17th-century thatched inn on their doorstep, they clearly can’t bear to leave. Picture flagstone floors, wooden settles, long-case clocks, quirky artworks. Bedrooms vary from the bijou with separate tiny bathroom, to spacious, with an in-room slipper bath, but all have a king- or super-king-size bed and hand-made toiletries. Local produce shines in pub classics (fish and chips, burger, steak and chips) and such modern dishes as cauliflower steak, south Indian sambar dhal, mango chutney and relish.
B&B double £85–£110, family £160. À la carte £35. 01460 73149, lordpoulettarms.com
THE KING’S HEAD, BLEDINGTON, OXFORDSHIRE
Ducks bob about on the stream that runs through the green in a quintessential Cotswold village, overlooked by this 16th-century inn. In a cosy bar with exposed beams and high-back settles, locals chat over pints of local ale. Bedrooms – in the main building and off a landscaped courtyard – are prettily styled, some with a pleasing Provençal feel. The food is hearty and traditional, with pub classics such as burgers made with beef from the family farm, and haddock and chips, and more imaginative fare (maybe loin of venison, crushed new potatoes, red cabbage, kale and jus).
B&B single £80–£105, double £110–£140. À la carte £35. 01608 658365, thekingsheadinn.net
CREGGANS INN, STRACHUR, ARGYLL AND BUTE
Sir Fitzroy Maclean, soldier, diplomat, probable inspiration for the character of James Bond, was once licensed to sell alcohol at this whitewashed 19th-century inn on the eastern shore of Loch Fyne. Bedrooms are traditionally styled, with designer fabrics and wallpaper, a view over the loch or the woodland garden. Log fires burn in bar and bistro, where the menu offers dishes from ‘land’, ‘sea’ and ‘garden’ – maybe fillet of estate venison salt baked beetroot, fondant potatoes, rosemary jus; pan-seared monkfish cheeks, chive potato cake, curried whitebait and mussel broth; vegetable risotto. Breakfast brings Loch Fyne kippers – of course.
B&B £130–£200. À la carte £30. 01369 860279, creggans-inn.co.uk
THE BONNIE BADGER, GULLANE, EAST LOTHIAN
In a coastal village closed to Muirfield course, the old Golf Inn has been transformed into a gastropub by Michelin-starred chef Tom Kitchin, and his wife, Michaela, to showcase locally grown, fished and farmed produce. Smart bedrooms are styled in colours reflecting the East Lothian landscape, each with a marble bathroom with walk-in shower and handmade toiletries. You can eat in the Broc Bar or in the stone-walled, beamed Stables dining room, where head chef Matthew Budge creates a modern take on pub classics. Perhaps Highland Wagyu beef burger; Borders lamb rump, haggis and potato terrine; spelt and lentil burger…
B&B £195–£470 (£225–£595 around key golf event days). À la carte £45. 01620 621111, bonniebadger.com