Because sometimes the best breaks are right there on your doorstep.
Is there anything that exemplifies the joy of being British more than arriving, windswept and probably wet, at a pub with a roaring fire, a hearty meal and a comfortable bed upstairs? We would argue not — especially where Britain’s poshest pubs with rooms are concerned.
Medieval coaching inns, boutique boltholes and riverside resting places can be found tucked away up and down our fair isle. Some even boast Michelin starred restaurants and a large slice of land. Their intimate atmosphere, quirky touches and down-to-earth genre of luxury attract celebrities, in-the-know travellers and those after a stay filled with rustic charm.
Here’s a pub for every type of person and weekend getaway…
We can’t think of anything more charming than a weekend of brisk walks around the hilly Monmouthshire countryside, staying at this cosy pub on the outskirts of the tiny Welsh village of Skenfrith and overlooking River Monnow.
This former 17th century coaching inn is now one of Wales’ most renowned boutique hotels and boasts an award-winning restaurant. As well as light and bright bedrooms and squishy sofas in the bar, perfect for boardgames, The Bell’s owners helps guests make the most of the surrounding natural beauty,
and have created six special walks in and around the Skenfrith area, at times crossing the border into England and back.
From £150 a night on a B&B basis, skenfrith.co.uk
This pub is actually a four-star hotel and is part of quirky, boutique hotel group The Artist Residence. The Mason Arms, nestled in leafy South
Leigh, is their newest and most rural location, bursting with eccentricities, quirky art and interiors you are unlikely to find in any pub elsewhere.
The Mason Arms pub downstairs, complete with neon artwork and offbeat wallpapering, serves hearty British fare, while the eaves upstairs cradle five bedrooms. Three more bedrooms can be found in the farm’s outbuildings, including the palatial Barn Suite with its bespoke four-poster bed and antiques dotted everywhere you turn, and a Shepherd’s Hut that has been turned into a cosy bolthole of its own, overlooking the herb garden.
This pub has character by the bucket load, and is the ideal place to bed down, enjoy a luxury breakfast in bed, cosy evenings by the fire and the neighbouring Cotswolds.
From £120 a night on a B&B basis.
For period drama lovers
Eagle-eyed viewers might have recognised the grand driveway in The Duchess, starring Keira Knightley, actually belonged to Holkham Hall. Though we have yet to find a way of staying at the palatial house itself, we have found the next best thing — The Victoria Inn.
Sitting at the gates to Holkham Hall, the residence of the Earl of Leicester, and just a few minutes’ walk from Holkham Beach, this picture-perfect inn is a cut above the rest.
Serving fish fresh from the north Norfolk coast, beef from the Holkham Estate itself and wild game from the family shoot, the restaurant epitomises high end gastronomy.
Upstairs the country-luxe bedrooms are sumptuous, stylish and spacious. It’s the ideal place to return to after a brisk beach walk.
Room rates start from £130 on a B&B basis.
Forget a G&T and a roast — The Black Swan has Michelin-starred food on the table instead. Overseen by Tommy Banks, Britain’s youngest Michelin-starred chef in 2013 and twice winner of the Great British Menu, those who visit this country pub can expect a mix of creative, and often eccentric, dishes — with a hint of traditional Yorkshire charm, of course.
The menu is inspired by ingredients grown in the two-acre kitchen garden or foraged for in the surrounding countryside, produce which often ends up in experimental cocktails at the bar too.
The nine bedrooms, with decor inspired by the surrounding dales and farms, only add to the magical feeling that is woven into every aspect here, and are all located just over the road from the pub itself.
There aren’t many pubs I recommend adding to your bucket list, but this one is truly something special. Make sure to book in advance, though.
From £175 per person, per night including dinner, bed and breakfast.
For taking it easy
This stylish coaching inn was known as The Red Lion in medieval times but we’re confident that today’s offering is an altogether different pub experience. Sprawled out in the centre of Shaftesbury, or Shaston as it was known in Thomas Hardy’s novels, an ancient and enchanting hilltop town, the property is a much-cherished town treasure.
At the kitchen’s helm is Head Chef Tom Blake, from the renowned River Cottage, who sources ingredients from his esteemed network of local West Country suppliers, and his menus reflect the richness and variety of seasonal produce. For a real flavour of what Tom is about, try the Chalk Stream trout fillet with coconut and lemongrass, and finish off with the white chocolate brûlée, served with apple and ginger compote, and five-spice shortbread.
Making it up to bed post-dinner is no easy feat. Luckily though, the inn has 16 beautifully appointed bedrooms — from cosy doubles to a junior suite with a free-standing roll top bath and private terrace.
From £95 a night on a B&B basis.