Take care of two of life’s biggest pleasures, all in one go. (Eating and sleeping, that is…)
The Kingham Plough, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire
In at number 22 in the recently released Top 50 Gastropubs list, The Kingham Plough has been something of an epicurean destination since Emily Watkins started shaking the pans in 2007. Now a familiar face on TV, the co-owner’s cooking regularly helps keep the pub’s six rooms booked up.
The Wife of Bath, Wye, Kent
Mark Sargeant is the well-decorated and locally-born chef behind The Wife of Bath’s endeavours. The food might give you an inkling – tapas is carefully sourced, mostly from Spain (even the coffee). Wye is an impossibly pretty village, and the terraced period house is well in keeping. Brought up to date, its old charm remains, from the weathered timber beams to the odd creaky floorboard.
The Duncombe Arms, Ellaston, Ashbourne
Among the pubs in which you can easily find a corner to hide in, or a snug in which to keep fed and watered for the afternoon, The Duncombe is right up there. It’s situated on the edge of the Peak District and the food is British-ish and season-conscious. At the time of writing, the menu sports venison tartare, Duncombe ale-battered fish, and Wootton pheasant with ham.
The George, Rye, East Sussex
Being this close to the sea, The George is rightly seafood-influenced, with potted shrimp, mussels, squid and, scallops – especially during Rye Scallop Week (from late Feb to early March). There are 34 rooms, many decked out with salvaged, and therefore eclectic, furniture and fittings.
The Queens Arms, Sherborne, Dorset
This former cidery (this is Somerset, after all) has won a brace of AA Rosettes, not least for its all-accommodating tendencies – even dogs have their own bath! The pub has its own working smallholding, with pigs, cows and hens helping keep the kitchen stocked. Food consists of a mix of elevated traditional pub grub and more left field options.
The Hand & Flowers, Marlow, Buckinghamshire
Difficult to mention pub dining without thinking of Tom Kerridge, whose local empire is noticeable throughout Marlow. The pub’s accommodation is dispersed among houses across town, including the Apple House and Duck Terrace. All are, from the outside, fairly unassuming, unlike the huge beds, Netflix, complimentary slippers, and food hamper luxury within.
Hurley House Hotel, Hurley, Berkshire
Hurley House, with more awards (12) than it has rooms, is a modern interpretation of a rustic inn, situated close to Henley, Marlow, and Bray. The restaurant, a favourite among visitors and locals alike, sources its ingredients from the fields of Berkshire and off the Brixham coast.
No. 11, Edinburgh
Subtle tartans and deep ebonies (no doubt inspired by the building’s previous inhabitants, the Black Watch) are purveying themes here at No.11. Food ranges from classic Scottish (crispy haggis, cock-a-leekie) to the more encompassing (salmon in miso broth, lamb loin with sweetbreads, crème brûlée). Bedrooms are modern and luxurious – ideal for a romantic weekend away.
The Wild Rabbit, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire
The Daylesford estate is 1,500 acres of ultra-organic, zero-waste farmland. A Slow Food devotee, The Wild Rabbit is right in the midst of it and, as you can imagine, its larders are considerably well-stocked. A Georgian pub with a reputation as the poshest in Britain, each room is unique, common only in their elegant, stripped-back aesthetic.
The Mash Inn, Radnage, Buckinghamshire
The Mash Inn feels like it’s centred around the kitchen, with its enormous open wood-fired grill that was made by local craftsmen. After a long supper, the stairs are a pleasant thing to totter up, and the king-size mattresses are a pleasant thing to fall into. No need to move – come morning, breakfast is served in bed.
The Cartford Inn, Preston, Lancashire
A recent addition of luxury cabins, with their stilts and large balconies seem a departure from the pub’s traditional country roots, dating back to at least the 1800s. To most though, that’s welcomed. As for the food, pub classics feature secondary to the main menu, which includes skate cheeks, snails in garlic butter, and corned beef terrine.
The Star Inn, Harome, North Yorkshire
Food-wise, this 14th century thatched inn started making a name for itself in 1996. With an emphasis on sourcing from their back garden (it’s a proper farming village, this), it’s still very much up there. Accommodation has a bit of a ski chalet vibe, with large floor tiles and liberal use of wooden furnishing.
This is a guest post from freelance food journalist Hugh Thomas. He’s contributed to Foodism, Time Out, Great British Chefs, and is part of British Street Food’s small team of vigilant writers. Find him on twitter @hughwrites.