In this extract from the new Good Hotel Guide, we choose places to stay with great cuisine, chic interiors and scenic walks from the front door.
Best for food lovers
Brockencote Hall, Chaddesley Corbett, Worcestershire
You might think you’ve rolled up at a luxury Loire valley chateau when you arrive at this Victorian manor in landscaped parkland. There’s nothing too luxe about the price, though, with B&B from £138.
Spend what you save on a nine-course tasting extravaganza in the restaurant, perhaps matching it with a flight of wine. A normal two- or three-course dinner might feature local produce such as Worcestershire duck breast with confit duck hash and artisanal cheeses.
There’s plenty to do during the day – fishing, tennis, or a stroll around the 29 hectares. The 21 bedrooms range from contemporary classics to feature suites.
Doubles from £138 B&B, nine-course dinner £85, brockencotehall.com
The White Hart Inn, Mersea, Essex
Derelict for almost a decade, this weatherboarded pub reopened last summer in the capable hands of Piers Baker, owner of Dedham’s Sun Inn. It’s worth crossing Mersea’s causeway (check the tides first) for the seafood alone, although carnivores and vegetarians are equally well catered for in this gastropub, where nibbles are less salted peanuts and more asparagus fritter with pea aioli.
The long wine list offers plenty by the glass and reasonable prices. The bar forms part of an expansive dining room with colourful banquettes and parquet floor. Six colourful contemporary bedrooms have modern bathrooms and art (for sale) on the walls.
Doubles from £150 B&B, whitehartinnmersea.co.uk
Parador 44, Cardiff
Cádiz comes to Cardiff in this boutique bolthole, whose nine rooms were added last year above acclaimed Spanish restaurant Asador 44. Mains range from Pyrenean milk-fed lamb to grilled carabinero prawns.
The (soundproofed) bedrooms evoke Andalucía at every turn, with their tiles, shutters and headboards. They share a guest lounge whose honesty bar is stocked with Spanish wine and beer.
Breakfast is a delightful mix of Welsh and Spanish produce, with Spanish cheeses and tarta de Santiago (almond sponge) alongside Welshcakes on the buffet; cooked dishes include “flamenco eggs” or a “full parador”.
Doubles from £131 B&B, grupo44.co.uk
The Crown and Anchor, Ham, Wiltshire
Run as a curry house before two local couples stepped in to renovate it, this village inn serves food several notches above the average chicken madras and pub grub. Unusual options might include torched salmon with hispi cabbage and tiger prawn spring roll, or celeriac schnitzel with truffle dressing.
Dining dogs are served snacks from the open kitchen, while owners can try the Ham 1840 beer, made for the pub, or sparkling Winding Wood from a nearby vineyard.
Interiors include a log burner and flagstone floor with interesting additions such as Martin Parr photos in the loos. The bedrooms don’t disappoint, either, with antique furniture, oversized fabric headboards and botanical prints.
Doubles from £130 B&B, crownandanchorham.co.uk
Westmorland Hotel, Penrith, Cumbria
Those tired of motorway services sarnies can break the journey between Scotland and the south at Tebay Services, where the
enterprising Dunning family created a unique roadside offering with a shop and hotel after the M6 carved through their hill farm.
Local specialities in the restaurant include lamb from the farm and Cumbrian beef, as well as home-made bread and ice-cream.
Stripped back Scandi-chic rooms have views of the fells, and despite the motorway there’s no traffic noise. In the morning, there are walks from the door, and supplies of cheese and more in the farm shop.
Doubles from £93 room only, westmorlandhotel.com
Best for walkers
The Barnsdale, Oakham, Rutland
The footpath circumnavigating Rutland Water is 23 miles long, taking in the picturesque waterside Normanton church. Or there’s a seven-mile trail around the reservoir’s central promontory.
Five minutes’ drive away is the newly opened Barnsdale, which makes a great place to rest weary legs and load up on calories in the excellent restaurant. The interesting menu might include a starter of lobster and squid with orange and fennel, followed by steak, or perhaps gnocchi with wild field mushroom and spinach.
There’s a good range of wines, plus complimentary ginger citrus liqueur in the colourful rooms, which surround a courtyard and have statement fabric headboards.
Doubles from £126 B&B, barnsdalerutland.com
Forss House, Thurso
In winter, when prices drop, guests at this Georgian mansion can live the life of a Scottish laird for less; booking 30 days in advance offers the best rates.
Wrapped in woodland and a curve of the River Forss near the north-east tip of the Scottish mainland, it makes a great base for exploring the hills and coast. Guided walks are organised by the Countryside Ranger service. There are other outdoor activities too, such as salmon fishing.
After a day in the countryside, the panelled lounge is a great place to relax before a dinner of local specialities such as scallops or Scottish beef fillet. There’s the option of a whisky flight before snuggling down in one of the 14 elegant bedrooms.
Doubles from £125 B&B, forsshousehotel.co.uk
The Castle Hotel, Bishop’s Castle, Shropshire (pictured above)
The Shropshire Way, a 200-mile walking route covering the Shropshire Hills and historic towns, runs past the front door of this market town inn, where dogs stay free of charge. Offa’s Dyke Path, along the Welsh borderlands, is just a few miles away.
The hotel is on the hilltop site of a medieval castle a mile from the Welsh border. Some of the contemporary and comfortable bedrooms have far-reaching views of the surrounding hills.
After their rambles, guests can eat in the oak-panelled restaurant or in any of the three bars, where pub classics are accompanied by a superb selection of Shropshire real ales.
Doubles from £104 B&B, thecastlehotelbishopscastle.co.uk
Burleigh Court, Brimscombe, Gloucestershire
Cotswolds charm on the cheap is on offer at this beautiful Georgian building remodelled by Clough Williams-Ellis. There’s a handful of circular walks straight from the door, some with pubs to visit en route, and other footpaths a short drive away. Back at the hotel, there’s a food option to suit everyone, including afternoon tea, all-day grazing, wine tastings, and a more formal dinner in the panelled dining room. The 18 rooms are split between the manor house and coach house (where the dog-friendly rooms are); there’s also a cottage with its own hot tub.
Doubles from £149 B&B, burleighcourtcotswolds.co.uk
Black Bull, Sedbergh, Cumbria
There are hikes in the Howgill Fells from the door of this market-town pub on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales national park. Walkers can climb all the way to the highest point, the Calf, at 676 metres (2,217 feet), or take a shorter walk to the lower hilltop of Winder, with its views of the Dales and the Lakes – Windermere is just over half an hour away.
Back at base, uncluttered wood-panelled bedrooms are in a soothing palette, with Cumbrian wool blankets. Co-owner Nina Matsunaga draws on her Japanese/German heritage to create dishes such as Herdwick lamb and kimchi tartare. A shot of wasabi vodka will help with aching limbs.
Doubles from £134 room only, theblackbullsedbergh.co.uk
Burnside Cottage, Canisbay, Caithness
Kacey and Stephen George say their former croft house offers “superior B&B”. About half a mile from the North Coast 500 route, the cottage has two spacious ground-floor suites with views to Stroma and the Orkneys. Artist Stephen’s carvings and photography can be seen everywhere. Evening meals are served room service-style by trolley, and might include smoked salmon pasta, ribeye steak or teriyaki tofu. Dogs are welcome and can bag a bacon treat for breakfast, also delivered to the rooms by trolley.
Doubles from £150 B&B, burnside-cottage.co.uk
Arthur’s, Royal Hillsborough, County Down
In Royal Hillsborough’s Georgian high street, this new B&B comes with its own coffee house, serving coffee and cakes daily until 3pm. The dozen rooms are plush affairs – owner Lynne McCabe studied interior design while renovating it with her husband Jonathan. (The couple also offer B&B at their family home, Lisnacurran, and at Ralph’s guest house in Moira.)
Rooms have centrepiece headboards in fabric by Mulberry, Osborne & Little and Sanderson, colourful walls from the Zoffany design house, antique fair finds and velvet curtains. A Lord Downshire’s Ulster fry breakfast can be walked off with a stroll around the lake, fort and castle – the king’s official Northern Irish residence.
Doubles from £140 B&B, arthurshillsborough.com
Brooks Guesthouse, Bristol
For sheer fun factor, the rooftop caravans atop this central Bristol B&B are pretty cool. What was a three-storey 1950s office block was converted by Carla and Andrew Brooks into a modern, frills-free guesthouse, with Airstream-style caravans in the rooftop garden. The largest can take a family with two small children.
Bedrooms are more traditional, with tongue-and-groove panelling, pale-wood bedsteads and colourful throws. Bathrooms are compact and there are wall hooks rather than wardrobes. Breakfast includes dishes such as homemade fruit compote, eggs benedict and a full English.
Bedrooms from £99 B&B, caravans from £108, brooksguesthousebristol.com
Hollamoor Farm, Barnstaple, Devon
They don’t stand on ceremony at this farmhouse B&B, even though it’s run by Sir Bourchier (George) and Lady Caroline Wrey. The place has been in the family since 1740, when Sir Bourchier’s ancestor married the Earl of Bath’s only daughter. Now, they welcome families, dogs and horses to the property, where chickens and ducks potter around the garden. Human guests are invited to tea and cakes in the owners’ sitting room.
Rooms are cottage-chic; a hayloft suite has its own seating area. Breakfast is a homely affair around the table, with free-range eggs from the farm before guests head off to explore the estate on foot or horseback.
Doubles from £125 B&B, devonhorsebedbreakfast.co.uk
Newbegin House, Beverley, East Yorkshire
Walter and Nuala Sweeney’s Georgian townhouse is minutes from Beverley town centre. They don’t stint on extras in the three traditional-style rooms, which come with sherry, fresh milk and flowers. Nor is the breakfast your standard fare – offering omelettes, smoked salmon, pancakes and a full Yorkshire.
The house is filled with original features, antiques, books and heirlooms, with shuttered windows, polished wood floors and marble fireplaces. There’s a well upholstered feel throughout, with plump chairs and Victorian rugs; one bedroom has a rocking horse; another overlooks the pretty walled garden.
Doubles from £110 B&B, newbeginhousebbbeverley.co.uk
Pubs with rooms
The Meikleour Arms, Perth and Kinross
The Franco-Scottish union holds strong at this Georgian coaching inn on the Lansdowne estate, owned by Sam Mercer Nairne, a descendant of the Marquesses of Lansdowne, and his Bordeaux-born wife, Claire. Elements from both countries can be seen everywhere: bedrooms might have French antiques and a toile-draped canopy bed alongside Arran Aromatics toiletries.
Estate-to-plate menus feature local specialities with a French twist, such as Meikleour black pudding scotch egg with celeriac remoulade or estate venison with dauphinoise potatoes. During the day, guests can go salmon fishing on their own stretch of the River Tay, or play a round at Blairgowrie Golf Club.
Doubles from £90 B&B, meikleourarms.co.uk
The George in Rye, East Sussex
A fire raged through this 16th-century coaching inn in 2019, and restoration took until last summer. It’s looking good, though, with a sense of drama given to its chic interiors by co-owner Katie Clarke, who used to work on film sets. A former church altar is the reception desk, there’s an antique sailcloth on the restaurant walls and a ladies’ loo that looks like a shell grotto. The bedrooms have fabric headboards, brightly patterned wallpaper, Frette linens and REN toiletries. The pub makes a great base to explore Rye, as well as Camber Sands and Romney Marsh.
Doubles from £95 B&B, thegeorgeinrye.com
The Rose and Crown, Romaldkirk, Durham
Standing beside a Saxon church in a pretty Teesdale village, this 18th-century inn is owned by the Robinson family, who also run
Headlam Hall. They take pride in running a “proper Dales bar” with flagstone floors, wood beams, fires blazing and dogs lolling under tables. The 14 bedrooms are full of character, particularly in the main inn, where exposed stone and beamed ceilings rub shoulders with locally made furniture. Rooms in the courtyard are more contemporary, but all have fresh milk, homemade biscuits and Molton Brown toiletries. The pub is very dog friendly, with treats and a hose-down area for use after one of the walks from the door.
Doubles from £100 B&B, rose-and-crown.co.uk
The Inn at Whitewell, Lancashire
The riverside location is key to this old manor house, with bedrooms overlooking the River Hodder, walks along its banks (and over its stepping stones) and guest fishing for trout and salmon along seven miles of water. Run by the Bowman family, it is deeply traditional, with oodles of atmosphere. Local ales are served in the flagstone bar, and diners can look forward to impressive meals under long serving chef Jamie Cadman, whose Whitewell fish pie is legendary. There is also an onsite wine shop.
Bedrooms overflow with charm and eccentricities, with antiques, deep sofas, books and art. All are dog friendly, many have working fires, while some have four-poster beds and Victorian cabinet baths.
Doubles from £145 B&B, innatwhitewell.com
The Three Daggers, Edington, Wiltshire
So much more than a pub with rooms, this 250-year-old village inn also has a farm shop, onsite brewery and spa barn with outdoor hot tub and sauna. Three beautiful bedrooms above the pub are in farmhouse chic style with a muted palette. The largest has a beamed ceiling and a bathroom with standalone tub and shower. They share an open-plan farmhouse-style kitchen and lounge with squishy sofas; guests who book all three rooms can have the top floor to themselves. Downstairs, farm-to-fork menus are served in the buzzy pub, filled with settles, beams and wood burners.
Doubles from £111 B&B, threedaggers.co.uk
(Article source: The Guardian)