With spruced-up interiors and innovative menus, these revamped country inns tick all the boxes for cosiness and culinary class.
St Tudy Inn, Cornwall
The 17th-century St Tudy Inn, in the village of the same name west of Bodmin moor, is under new management and has reopened with a new look, a new menu and a new head chef. The inviting bar has an open fire, stools made from beer kegs and bookshelves converted from old crates; it serves pints of home-brewed St Tudy ale and a lighter bar menu. In the restaurant, dishes include goats’ cheese bonbons with squash and sage, Cornish sole with shrimps, and sticky toffee pudding with clotted cream. The derelict barn next door has been converted into four elegant rooms, with two more rooms above the pub opening soon.
Doubles from £111 room-only, sttudyinn.com
Chartists 1770 at the Trewythen, Llanidloes, Powys
The former Trewythen Arms in Llanidloes, a market town in mid-Wales, was renovated last year. Chartists 1770 at the Trewythen – named after the Chartist riots of 1839 and the year of the building’s construction – is now a modern Welsh restaurant with seven bedrooms over three floors. There are also four heated dining pods in the walled garden. Welsh produce includes sea bass with cockles and samphire (£16) and lamb with creamed cabbage and smoked bacon (£17). There is a separate plant-based menu with dishes including a starter of risotto with British grains and wild mushrooms (£8) and a courgette, chickpea and hazelnut loaf as a main (£14).
Doubles from £110 B&B, trewythenhotel.wales
Wild Thyme & Honey and The Crown, Crucis, Cotswolds
A 16th-century pub a couple of miles east of Cirencester has been transformed into a boutique inn, pub and dining room. Wild Thyme & Honey has 24 bedrooms and suites – some with freestanding baths, all with decanters of sloe gin – and a VIP apartment with a deck, sauna and hot tub. Across the courtyard is the Crown pub, which serves everything from a pint of Cotswold lager and “proper” pork scratchings to jazzed-up classics: posh prawn cocktail and cheese soufflé; steaks, sole and celeriac cooked on a charcoal grill; venison cottage pie and ox-cheek bourguignon. There is a cocktail menu and lots of wines by the glass.
Doubles from £150 B&B, wildthymeandhoney.co.uk/crownampneybrook.co.uk
Bell & Crown, Zeals, Wiltshire
The Bell & Crown was the first pub bought by Chickpea, which now has a handful of pubs and pizza places in the south-west. It is also the cosiest, with wood panelling and open fires, plus a heated, covered outdoor dining area. The hearty menu, which changes often, features produce from small, family-run suppliers. Liver and bacon is always popular; other pub favourites include fish and chips, steak and ale pie, sticky toffee pudding, and rhubarb and custard. Good-value, well-chosen wine is from Gardner and Beadle in nearby Tisbury, with most bottles under £30. This spring – around mid-March – six simple, stylish rooms will open upstairs.
From £90 B&B, bellandcrown.com
The Crusoe, Lower Largo, Fife
Graham and Rachel Bucknall, a couple who own the Bridge Inn at Ratho and the Ship Inn at Elie, have taken over a third pub, the Crusoe in Lower Largo. Like the others, the Crusoe is a pub with a view – it is right on the edge of the beach. In winter, drinkers can have a pint of local ale by the fire, and in summer they can sit out on the pier with a pint of Crusoe lager. All meat and fish on the menu is Scottish, with lots of shellfish (Orkney scallops, Shetland mussels) and game (pheasant schnitzel, Balmoral venison). The first seven of 14 planned rooms opened on 11 February; all have sea views.
Doubles from £110 B&B, thecrusoe.com
Hare and Hounds, Bowland Bridge, Lake District
This 17th-century coaching inn was once the heart of Bowland Bridge, but it went into decline and eventually closed. Now it has been reinvented as a modern country pub, and reopened in September. All the original features have been retained – beams, exposed stone, fireplace – with a smart new paint scheme inspired by the Cumbrian countryside, pops of pattern and cosy nooks such as the snug.
The dinner menu features classic pub grub (steak and ale pie £17.95) and more unexpected dishes (Lakeland lamb tagine £18.95), while the retro lunchtime menu includes chicken or scampi in a basket. Upstairs are five calming rooms with roll-top baths.
From £145 B&B, hareandhoundslakes.com
Bull’s Head Inn, Craswall, Herefordshire
The Bull’s Head, a traditional drovers’ inn at the foot of the Black Hill close to the border with Wales, had been closed for six years when the owners of Lower House Farm took it over. It reopened in November 2021 after a restoration that retained its whitewashed walls, flagstone floors and open fire. It now serves well-kept ales, natural and organic wines, all-day bar snacks, and lunch and dinner from Thursday to Sunday. Food, much of which is grown on the farm, might include hogget chop with anchovy and caper butter (£22), or roast crown prince squash with sheep’s curd and pickled mushrooms (£16). Four rooms are due to open in spring, followed by cabins in the grounds in summer.
Doubles from £80 B&B, cabins £120, wildbynaturellp.com
Bottle & Glass Inn, Binfield Heath, Oxfordshire
This thatched inn near Henley-on-Thames reopened in 2017 and has had several new additions over the past year. Three rooms have opened above the restaurant, one with a roll-top bath, and there are plans to add five shepherd’s huts in the spring. The Dutch barn was converted into an open-fire cooking space last summer, and serves all-day pizza and burger menus. The barn also had a pastry counter, and a farm shop was added in December. The main restaurant specialises in game from the surrounding Phillimore Estate, such as partridge wellington (£24), and 32-day aged steaks (from £18) from nearby Paddock Farm.
Doubles from £140 B&B, bottleandglassinn.com
The Bear Inn, Hodnet, Shropshire
The Bear Inn, a 16th-century coaching inn near Market Drayton, reopened in August after a £2m makeover. It is an atmospheric place: interconnected rooms with panelled walls, beams and fires – and even a resident ghost. There are 12 folk-inspired bedrooms by the interior designer Octavia Dickinson, seven above the pub and five in the coach house. On the menu are fruit and vegetables grown in Hodnet Hall’s walled garden, meat from the owners’ own cattle and ales from Shropshire brewers. Dishes change regularly but might include artichoke ravioli, butternut pithivier or ox cheek with bone marrow mash.
Doubles from £110, thebearinnhodnet.com
(Article source: The Guardian)