There’s the honest pub grub, gnarled beams and cosy, crackling fire appeal. But the smug convenience of scaling an 18th-century staircase to bed, after a hearty supper washed down with too much red wine, is also highly alluring.
Pubs-with-rooms are also the best way to peer into Britain’s rural soul as cosmopolitan voyeurs. Their menus are lined with game and produce from local farms, and flagstones are still trodden by filthy Labradors and locals’ muddy wellies alongside the vegan sneakers spilling in from London.
Some are cool, with modern art perking up historic walls and cultish furniture blending in with whimsically wonky bedrooms in some Hackney-On-The-Wold. But all cling on to the proper pub idyll, where scruffy edges, country walks and a squire-like sensibility endure — a formula the Brits do very well.
From no-nonsense Yorkshire classics on the fringes of national parks, to spruced up-and-happening West Country spots with serious foodie credentials, here’s our guide to the UK’s best pubs-with-rooms for the ultimate night inn.
The Beckford Arms, Wiltshire
Unlike Somerset, Wiltshire remains smug in its relatively undiscovered status (despite its civilised sub-two-hour chug from the Big Smoke). The Beckford Arms looks set to change that, with Dan Brod, Charlie Luxton and Matt Greenlees perfecting the gastro country-pub formula without it tipping too far into restaurant or modish furniture territory. Dating back to the 1800s, the ivy-smothered stalwart near Tisbury’s clever refurb riffs on its Georgian roots. It has aged, hops-coated beams propping up the bar, wood panelling galore and superb, mullioned windows — just with pisco sours and plaice with samphire and jalapenos. Yes, upstairs there are light-filled rooms featuring unstuffy country prints and delicious Bramley products for indulgent, late morning soaks, and there are larger lodges a little further afield. But it’s the fantastical, grade 1-listed arch on the Fonthill Estate that thrusts this Wilshire pub into some lofty league of escapism. A collaboration between the Charlie and the Farrow & Ball owner, this spiral-staircase’d bolthole appears ripped from the glossy pages of an interiors magazine and is surrounded by resplendent parkland and a mist-strewn lake.
Doubles from £105; beckfordarms.com
The Duncombe Arms, Staffordshire
It’s a tough gig building a community hub while putting it on the map for those further afield. Laura and Johnny Greenall finely tuned this boarded-up boozer to the local crowd in 2012, while piquing interest up and down the country with an impressive menu. Locals, foodie pilgrims and Peak District ramblers convene amid the flagstone and low-slung ceilings for just-baked sourdough and Ellastone born and bred chef Scott Law’s creative plates, (twice-baked Lincolnshire Poacher cheese soufflé with fresh truffle and malt-glazed poussin with Chantenay carrot). Here is the thrilling intersection of haute cuisine and proper pub grub, one that is setting new standards for the North and luring Londoners with a few nights in the Walnut House’s rooms or the plushly renovated Old Barn (self-catered cottage). Groups can cosy up in the Garden Cottage, tucked in the undulating, landscaped grounds of Wootton Hall Estate.
Doubles from £195; duncombearms.co.uk
The Greyhound Inn, Dorset
Dorset, much like Wiltshire, has been largely unsullied by the investor-backed London creatif. Some would argue, unloved, in places, but the fact that this wildly beautiful Hardy country has escaped the edit of ambitious landlord, designers and hoteliers remains one of life’s great mysteries. The Greyhound Inn, therefore, qualifies more as a hidden gem than a revamped marvel scheduled to fill countless pages of broadsheets and glossies, all in the same month. It’s a gastro pub deeply anchored in its community, as the very best boozers are, beloved by locals and in-the-know punters from surrounding towns and villages. Ensconced in the pretty village of Sydling St. Nicholas recorded in William the Conqueror’s Domesday Book and where church bells and sky shades remain vital reference points, The Greyhound Inn puts a proverbial two fingers up to Michelin-star system and does its own thing. Which is, by the way, deliciously simple, with the odd croquette, quail’s egg and ragu livening up a pork belly and beef and spuds menu. Step into the bar to a local din, with walkers huddled over tall beer barrels and locals edging ever closer to the piano. Sumptuous country rooms are Farrow and Ball-washed bunkers to stow away in after an enthusiastic introduction to Dorset cider.
Doubles from £105; dorsetgreyhound.co.uk
The Bradley Hare, Wiltshire
This 19th-century coach house (reimagined for a cosmopolitan coterie) sits on the Duke of Somerset’s bucolic estate. Co-owner and ex- Soho House design director James Thurstan has gently dressed its historic walls in natural fabrics and hues – linen curtains, velvet sofas, jute rugs and hand-made pottery. Deeper shades preserve the main pub and reading room’s cosy, Dickensian appeal, while the menus are an ode to swishy pub grub – the paragon of good eating for our farm-to-fork age. Tuck into Jake Shantos’s tasty game pie with smoked bacon and mushroom or his sardines with salsa verde and lemon, then stumble upstairs to resplendent, rustic rooms fit for a county Duke.
Doubles from £135; thebradleyhare.co.uk
The Wheatsheaf Inn, Cotswolds
Set in idyllic Cotswoldian village, Northleach, The Wheatsheaf Inn is one of those pubs that’s relentlessly good and always filled to the brim with a convivial crowd. They come for immaculately-cooked British fare – the devilled kidneys, beef tartare and Burford Estate pigeon wellington, which errs more on restaurant than local pub. Overnight patrons saunter down from morning soaks in their roll top tubs to a traditional English breakfast that shows off the surrounding countryside’s treasures, (the smashed avocado tribes are also duly catered to). Tables dotted around a courtyard and gardens, transform into a lovely sun trap for drawn out lunches in the summer months.
Doubles from £136; cotswoldswheatsheaf.com
Lord Crewe Arms, Northumberland
Having secured a loyal crowd at the impossibly pretty Cotswolds’ Calcot & Spa and Barnsley House, The Calcot Collection took its design eye north to the mist-strewn village of Blanchland, settling on an Abbot’s lodging of a mediaeval priory and surrounding cottages. There is refreshingly little trace of a ‘brand’ – the main building’s 13th century spirit remains perfectly intact and its 26 tartan-strewn rooms and cottages are still used for shooting parties and serious dog walkers. After hours of rambling along the river Derwent, deep into Northumberland’s rolling countryside, guests can hunker down in front of their own crackling log fire with a cup of hot chocolate, having yanked off their wellies in the boot room. Supper awaits – in a monastic setting worthy of a Robin Hood film set, where mediaeval walls are dressed with knight’s armour and a cashmere-clad set lean over board games after a warming supper of baked camembert and ox cheek and wild mushroom ragu, (washed down of course with some velvety Merlot and rounded off with port). The evening tends to move into the Crypt for gin and elderflower Crewe Cocktails and Sloe-gronis.
Doubles from £189; lordcrewearmsblanchland.co.uk
The Gurnards Head, Cornwall
Set back a few fields from the coastal path, The Gurnards Head is a canary-hued Cornish institution of bookshelves, log fires and fresh-faced walkers, with a dash of modern art. The front door spits out guests full on spanking fresh seafood and pork belly on to the wild west coast, which snakes up to St Ives and offers a front row seat for the waves thrashing the cliffs in the winter months. A former 18th century coach house, the Gurnards Heads seven dog-friendly rooms either peer out to sea or over the windswept moors, and are within easy reach after a few final rounds of Cornish ale.
Doubles from £155; gurnardshead.co.uk
The George and Heart House, Margate
Margs - a South East coastal settlement for East Londonors disillusioned with city life - has naturally seen its thatched, ragstone and timber buildings zhuzhed up by a hip, cosmopolitan crowd, drunk on rural idyll (chicken coops and wild swimming). The George and Heart House is one of them. Not far from the seafront, the former coaching inn was stylishly reacquainted with its cosy 18th century character by owners Kelly Love and Dan Williams, who have managed to keep the hospitality holy grail in mind: pulling in visitors without losing the locals. The pub’s top floor has been transformed into a handful of boudoir-style rooms decorated by local creatives (some with deco twists, others with a faint Parisian flair). Those holing up in them can make their way down to the residents’ lounge, Reggie’s Bar, for a book or a local tipple from the honesty bar, or the Zen Den for a not-so-pubby massage menu. Creative riffs on the traditional English roast are accompanied by Bloody Mary’s and Espresso Martinis… you get the picture.
Doubles from £95; georgeandheart.com
The Devonshire Arms at Pilsley, Derbyshire
This pub tips its hat, keeps its ale flowing and its fires lit. And as part of Chatsworth Estate (the stately pile is an easy amble away), it’s unsurprisingly quite lovely inside, with fully spruced rooms and family suites enjoying those thick, duck down duvets and heavy curtains you can only find in the countryside. Opt for the farmhouse rooms for Chatsworth lite four-postered reverie. Hearty, gently innovative plates are festooned with local ingredients (most of which is plucked from the Chatsworth Estate), and a night in this pretty pub simply isn’t complete without at least one pint of local cask ale: Chatsworth gold, or a long ramble through the Peak District.
Doubles from £209; devonshirehotels.co.uk
The Acorn Inn, Dorset
Ensconced in a pretty West Dorset village of Evershot lined by thatched cottages and roses climbing mottled stone, The Acorn Inn is the rural English pub personified. It’s survived the glossy overhaul inflicted on many group-owned pubs up and down the country and remains perfectly frozen in time – a roasty labyrinth of dimly lit rooms and fireside ales and village gossip. Friday nights still convene under the low-slung beams of the bar amid a comforting din, or along the old skittle alley, where enthusiastic locals test their opponents’ mettle. Bemused Londoners dine on hearty suppers of immaculately cooked Portland Lamb chops and Fossil Farm steaks as eagerly as the Acorn dines on its Thomas Hardy legacy (a starring role in Tess of the d’Urbervilles). Sleep is but a short, wonky staircase away, in a series of classically dressed rooms, one featuring a meaty, mahogany four poster worthy of Alec d’Urberville’s standards.
Rooms from £140; summerlodgehotel.co.uk
The Gunton Arms, Norfolk
The paragon of pubs with an edge, while remaining… a pub — The Gunton Arms was a real trailblazer. Its thrilling mix of modern art and the rich-toasty hues and battered wooden floors expected of an old country pub made it an intriguing proposition. A mix of locals and Range Rovers tanking up from London come for the sigh-inducing steaks cooked over the Elk Room’s open fire, the venison from the surrounding 1000-acre deer park and the daily haul from local fishermen. The late Robert Kime’s interiors seem to reflect and frame Norfolk’s dark, foggy landscape: dark gnarled wooden beams, chairs and tables, persian rugs, then there’s that comforting pub din broken by the odd raucous cackle and the brazen efforts of modern art to disrupt the smoky antiquity. It is Dickensian Britain crossed with a 21st century Hedge Fund art collector, where antiquity and modernity coalesce in a haze of good weekending (and good wine).
Doubles from £145; theguntonarms.co.uk
The Crown, Buckinghamshire
How lovely, a pub-with-rooms that doesn’t require the agony of podcast indecision and the mind-numbing monotony that is the British motorway. In fact, the Crown practically touches the end of the Metropolitan line, though you could hurtle across to it from London by car in under an hour. Designer Ilse Crawford brought her trademark pared down aesthetic to this topsy-turvy Elizabethan coaching inn’s historic rooms, with subdued, organic hues and a sprinkle of Nordic cool. Those in the main pub are imbued with a sense of history, despite the fresh interiors and feel immensely cosy, while the rooms across the courtyard are more spacious with four poster beds donning extraordinarily comfortable mattresses – the sort you’d expect from a luxury hotel. Food sits front and centre, with the choice of smart casual pub grub, a swishy Indian menu or Michelin-starred Artichoke, all under the Crown’s roof. Delicious food and interiors aside, one of the Courtyard Suites hosted ‘that scene’ with Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell in Four Weddings and a Funeral, which is really why you came.
Doubles from: £127; thecrownamersham.com
The Sportsmans Arms, Harrogate
The ivy-coated, no-nonsense Sportsmans Arms peers over the banks of the River Nidd, deep in God’s own country (and walking country). Pateley Bridge is but a post lunch shuffle away – a grey-stone Yorkshire market town whose shop windows are animated with devilled rascals and antique watches. Old station clocks, framed paintings of the Dales and well-thumbed books adorn the pub’s walls and a mix of ramblers and locals tuck into the blue cushioned banquettes for top-drawer scallops lathered in garlic butter and Nidderdale beef with gravy-laden Yorkshire puds. The decor in the rooms upstairs is unsullied country at its polished best, with a refreshing and immensely comforting absence of any hip touches such as cult lampshades or quirky art (the Carter family running it for the past 44 years are keen to keep it that way). Nurse a whisky by the fire before heading upstairs for a Yorkshire-tea-and-film night in a four-poster bed.
Doubles from £130; sportsmans-arms.co.uk
The Lamb at Shipton-Under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire
Situated in the Cotswoldian village of Shipton-Under-Wychwood between Burford and Chipping Norton, one whose leaves and stone appear intricately sketched into the quiet landscape, The Lamb is one of those straightforward, English folkloric pubs. If Scandinavian hygge could be redefined within the context of British culture, it can be found here in droves, amid the spitting log fire, the spaniels and consistent clank and clutter of knives, forks, glasses, gossip… It’s a warming scene in every sense, one that Peter Creed and Tom Noest (the duo behind Bell and Langford) worked diligently to fine-tune. Rooms are decorated to a homespun brief – with pretty country curtains and headboards, wool bed throws and roll top baths, not straying too far from the building’s 16th-century spirit. The odd splash of modern art perhaps does, but it’s cleverly woven into the snug picture of original beams and beer-battered haddock and Cornbury Park venison pie.
Doubles rooms from £100; thelambshipton.com
The Bath Arms, Wiltshire
Another storybook, ivy-coated pub (can there ever be too many). This is one for the families with its proximity to Longleat safari park, so close in fact that guests have reported hearing lions roar into the Wiltshire night from their beds. Bath’s antiquity and warren of art galleries and independent cafes is an easy drive away, along with Frome’s creatives-a-la-campagne scene. But you’d be excused for shunning all these for the supper-bath-bed merry go round that the Bath Arms has perfected. The interiors are comfortingly traditional yet plugged-in – it’s had a hoover and lick of paint since the 1700s; shades, lighting and furniture have been artfully drawn together to cling onto a sense of history without the museum fustiness. Rooms are little havens of countryside idyll – the princes-and-the-pea layers of mattresses, sheets, duvets, throws; the silver service tea and coffee and cushioned headboards specifically made for Sunday paper-in-bed ritual. Float downstairs for a proper fry up, then later for a long picky lunch showing off Wiltshire’s bounty, then again for steak oozing in sauce under candlelight. And repeat.
Doubles from £120; batharmsinn.com
The Bell & Crown, Wiltshire
From the trendy Chickpea group, this gloriously affordable Wiltshire boozer has the ruddy-faced, moody-hued charm you’d hope for in a country pub, then upstairs, pitch-perfect rooms where ‘country’ is given a fresh (and stylishly subdued) face. These cosy dens of good taste feature dim lighting, various eras of art and crisp linen – the sort that feel cast adrift from the rest of the world on those quiet frosty mornings. Breakfast is worth eventually rolling out of bed for… whether it’s a shakshuka or bells-and-whistles fry up kind of morning. Naturally, supper and long Sunday lunches are the main events here – where playful riffs on the classics keep all the foodie tribes happy and new-age cocktails sit alongside local brews and Cheddar Ales.
Doubles from £100; bellandcrown.com
The Drunken Duck Inn, Cumbria
An eccentric, foodie inn lost somewhere in the just-rained ethereal green of the Lake District, The Drunken Duck is in Beatrix Potter land of watercolours and well-mannered hedgehogs. hearty beef and venison lunches here can be walked off along the shores of Lake Windermere, and days pootling around nearby Ambleside and Hawkshead (of Beatrix Potter lore) are neatly rounded off with the Duck’s own ales (there’s a microbrewery onsite) over views of the bucolic surrounds. An interior overhaul downstairs has cleaned up the pub’s act without losing any of its inebriated character (see the walls festooned in framed pictures and olive beams studded with brassworks). The rooms upstairs and in the courtyard are unapologetically traditional with a twist – the odd splash of purple or shabby-chic headboard (notably no dogs allowed). It’s the sort of refuge foodie ramblers obsess over when planning their squiggled trails on a map.
Doubles from £99; drunkenduckinn.co.uk
The Double Red Duke, Oxfordshire
It’s a tried-and-tested formula, the Oxfordshire scrubbed up pub whose weathered exterior belies stylish innards, tempting the city crowds desperate for a measured dose of country. While local craftsmanship in most pubs is a given, at the Double Red Duke, it appears more of an obsession – a paean to the Cotswolds nimble, artisanal fingers with pretty wallpaper, photogenic fabrics and the cool, velvety country flourishes that owners Sam and Georgie Pearman have become known for across their ever-swelling Lucky Onion and Country Creatures portfolio. The food, like the poised striped parasols lining the building, is unsurprisingly, sensational – a polished throwback of pies, cheddar soufflé and fish and chips with breakfasts a far, curried-eggs cry from the greasy fry up. Hunker down in the bar with posh cheese toasties and lobster rolls, washed down with anything-you-fancy from serious wines and local ales to zany cocktails.
Doubles from £120; countrycreatures.com
The Bell, East Sussex
This eccentric, wonky wonder harks back to its 16th century life as a coaching inn with low-slung beams and a cosy, dimly lit pub warmed by an open fire. Here, the drinking hole rituals endure – where tales are told across candle sticks and local brews. But head upstairs to the rooms or outside to the new fantastical lodges and antiquity soon gives way to quirk – expect cuckoo clocks, birch tree four posters and chairs suspended from the ceiling as side tables – as if thrust into a bonkers Lewis Caroll chapter. Back downstairs, amid the bowler hats and mismatched vintage wallpaper lined with an impressive collection of fine art (Tracey Emin to Picasso), guests are treated to British pub classics with a French twist from Head Chef Mark Charker: duck and rabbit nuggets, hedgerow pheasant with butternut squash boulangere and chocolate and orange fondant. In summer, punters take their Blueberry Daiquiris and Bees Knees Tom Collins to the garden – a landscaped marvel of meadow flowers and soft grasses, designed by a Chelsea Flower Show gold winner (who lives in the village).
Doubles from £134; thebellinticehurst.com
The Lord Poulett Arms, Somerset
A refuge for travellers for centuries, the Lord Poulett Arms is the latest country pub to fall into the Beckford Group’s foodie spell. Found in the impossibly pretty west country village of Hinton Saint George, the thatched drinking den is a gently spruced up time warp of local ciders, gnarled beams and snug little nooks for cosy fireside suppers à-deux. A radically seasonal and local menu shows off Somerset’s farming might, from celeriac soups fortified by fat sourdough lathered in sinful chunks of Somerset salted butter to rumps of lamb with perfectly cooked accoutrements and several rounds of Butcombe Brewery beers. The wine list here is superb and best viewed off-page through the old-meets-new cellar wall. Surrounding walks are drifting through Jane Austin’s more rural chapters, where church bells cut through the morning fog and vicarage gardens spill into meadow and thick woodland. Lung/head/heart-clearing country rambles through this bucolic patch of England are well rewarded with six cosy country rooms featuring seagrass carpets, wildly comfortable beds and, for some, roll top baths.
Rooms from £95; lordpoulettarms.com