We’ve travelled the nation and found cosy, rustic hideaways, establishments steeped in literary history and seaside boltholes, all serving seriously good pub grub and housing stylish bedrooms to boot. Each country pub has been subject to the same judging criteria – location, rooms, food and selling point. The result is an uncompromising and thorough guide to the best English country pubs with rooms…
- THE LYGON ARMS, BROADWAY, WORCESTERSHIRELocation The village of Broadway is one of the most northerly villages in the Cotswolds, full of characteristic golden stone and green lawns. The Lygon Arms boasts a beautiful seventeenth-century main building looking onto the main street.Rooms The hotel is Tardis-like in its capacity, boasting 80 rooms, including luxury suites and more compact accommodation. The crown jewel is a suite in which Charles II mustered his troops prior to the Battle of Worcester in 1651 – all dark wood panelling and antique furniture, but with a sleek modern bathroom and all the amenities you could want.Food The Bar and Grill serves up classics like roast chicken, lamb shoulder, and of course fish and chips. It’s simple British food very well-prepared, served in a lovely setting – a petrol-blue barrel-vaulted hall that’s the perfect blend of traditional and modern. The hotel also owns a wine bar next door which serves Italian small plates and pizzas for more casual dining.Selling point So many. The pretty garden at the back. The cocktail bar. And of course the gorgeous spa which is open to guests. There’s a very stylish Victorian-style pool with cast-iron pillars, a roof terrace where you can sun yourself with a cocktail, and all kinds of indulgent treatments on offer.Facts Rooms from £180. The Lygon Arms, High St, Broadway, Worcestershire WR12 7DU, 01386 852 255
- THE ROSE & CROWN, NORFOLKLocation With roses climbing up its white walls, The Rose & Crown is hard to miss in the charmingly sleepy village of Snettisham, a short drive from Norfolk’s west coast.Rooms Despite the inn’s fourteenth-century origins, the 16 rooms are light and airy. In our pastel-hued staircase room, the bathroom had a satisfyingly modern shower. Eager for tea after a bracing beach walk, we were pleased to discover fresh milk available.Food Alongside well-presented pub classics and nods to the locality – such as Cromer crab spaghetti – there’s a modish hint of Ottolenghi’s influence in starters like hot smoked mackerel with butternut and pomegranate, served in the three buzzing restaurant rooms.Selling point In contrast to chain hotels, The Rose & Crown is clearly stamped with the personality of its owners (who also own the Bank House hotel in nearby King’s Lynn).Facts Rooms from £100. The Rose & Crown, Snettisham. 01485-541382.
- THE GUNARD’S HEAD, CORNWALLLocation This secluded spot at the edge of west Cornwall is sandwiched in between sheep-speckled moorland and the rugged Cornish coastline; the Atlantic cliffs are just a 10-minute walk away.Rooms The seven rooms have a rustic, cosy character: fresh flowers, mustard-yellow walls, Roberts radios, Welsh blankets and stashes of classic books. Room seven is the largest, with views to the ocean.Food There is a wide range of wines and ales to complement the daily changing menu of simple and delicious, locally sourced food. Fish is often delivered from day boats – the smoked Newlyn haddock with poached duck egg was a notably tasty dish.Selling point The awe-inspiring coastline. Take the footpath down to the headland for seal spotting, or walk 20 minutes to Porthmeor Cove, the closest beach. Fishing and foraging walks can be arranged through the pub.Facts Rooms from £115. The Gurnard’s Head, near Zennor, St Ives. 01736-796928.
- THE OLD STOCKS INN, GLOUCESTERSHIRELocation Right on Stow-on-the-Wold’s pretty market square, this is housed in what was once a seventeenth-century coaching inn. A charming illustrated map of the area’s highlights is provided, making it perfect for Cotswold novices.Rooms There are 16 contemporary and relaxed rooms featuring original beams and exposed stone walls. One of the family rooms has a ‘bunker’ for children with triple bunk beds and a games console to keep them entertained. Double rooms have a roll-top bath and a complimentary minibar.Food With a menu that is seasonal, modern and hearty, the restaurant is a draw in its own right. All food, and many of the beers and spirits, are locally sourced. The blade of beef was tender and delicious, and the burgers looked good, too.Selling point This is a modern-thinking inn with great attention to all of the details – from the in-room Nespresso machines and generous toiletries from Aromatherapy Associates to the excellent cocktail menu at the bar.Facts Rooms from £119. The Old Stocks Inn, Stow-on-the-Wold. 01451-830666.
- LORD CREWE ARMS, COUNTY DURHAMLocation The honey-coloured village of Blanchland nestles in the picturesque wooded Derwent Valley – a North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Built from the remains of a twelfth-century abbot’s lodge for the nearby Blanchland Abbey, the inn has played host to the likes of W H Auden and Philip Larkin.Rooms Harking back to its medieval roots, many of the rooms feature ogee-arched windows and stone chimneypieces. The decoration is comfortable, elegant and stylish, with homely touches including jars of fudge and well-thumbed poetry books.Food The excellent modern British menu is made with home-grown and local produce. Start with a G&T in the atmospheric Crypt Bar, a subterranean medieval vaulted room. For the full experience, have breakfast in bed.Selling point This is a perfect weekend escape for those wanting comfort, a dash of romance and beautiful countryside (there’s fishing, cycling and walking right on the doorstep).Facts Rooms from £99. Lord Crewe Arms, Blanchland, Northumberland. 01434-677100.
- THE TALBOT INN, SOMERSETLocation Only a stone’s throw from the fifteenth-century St Andrew’s Church in the exquisite Somerset village of Mells. Much of the inn, accessed via an archway, is dotted around a pretty cobbled courtyard.Rooms The higgledy-piggledy interior conceals eight rooms, which – whether small or large – are beautifully designed. Go for room one with its white four-poster bed and in-room roll-top bath. Room seven has two bedrooms, so it’s perfect for travelling with children.Food Delicious, seasonal fare with much of the produce coming from the inn’s kitchen garden. At weekends, food in the Coach House Grill Room is cooked on an open charcoal and wood fire, and served at communal dining tables.Selling point The on-site cookery school, Kitchen Table Cookery, offers one- and two-day courses, which are led by the Talbot Inn chef Clare Liardet and the cookery writer Joanna Weinberg. There are also weekly drop-in demonstrations and tastings.