The big trip

Six of the best country pubs with rooms

Featuring locally sourced meat and vegetables, open fireplaces and a lack of mobile phone reception

1

Monmouthshire

 The Bell at Skenfrith

The Bell at Skenfrith

There are many winning things about this Monmouthshire pub – the “dreamy setting”, the “on-the-button” bedrooms, the jug of fresh milk that awaits your arrival – but it’s the “food that brings people here over and over”, said Condé Nast Traveller. Locally sourced meat and organic vegetables from The Bell’s own garden feature heavily on the well-thought-out menu. With no mobile reception, it’s a “place to really come and switch off”.

2

Withyham, East Sussex

The Dorset Arms

The Dorset Arms

For a relaxing break at this time of year, you can’t beat a stay at a country pub with good food on-site. And this village inn on the Buckhurst Estate on the Sussex Weald certainly ticks all the boxes, said Andy Lynes in The Times. It has an open fire and exposed beams; there are “guest ales from Sussex brewers at the bar”; and the menu is a mix of pub classics and more refined dishes, such as roasted slip sole with seaweed butter. There are nine rooms, all with fine views.

3

Corscombe, Dorset

The Fox Inn

The Fox Inn

When his restaurant empire collapsed last year, chef Mark Hix retreated to Dorset – where he has now opened this inn, said Benjamin Parker in The Daily Telegraph. To look at, it’s the “epitome of a remote village pub”, but this is no standard rural boozer: among the menu’s treats are Brownsea Island rock oysters, and Himalayan salt-aged porterhouse. For now, there’s just one room to stay in – “Bill’s Annexe”, named after Hix’s grandfather – but “more accommodation is on the way”.

4

Thorpe Market, Norfolk

The Gunton Arms

The Gunton Arms

This converted 18th century house is set in a 1,000-acre deer park in north Norfolk, said Andy Lynes in The Times. Inside there are comfy sofas and open fireplaces, and art by the likes of Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin on the walls. Chef Stuart Tattersall does much of his cooking over a fire in front of guests: dishes include Gunton red deer rump, and shoulder of lamb with bubble-and-squeak. The rooms all have views over the park, and many are “dog-friendly”.

5

Romaldkirk, County Durham

The Rose & Crown

The Rose & Crown

A creeper-covered coaching inn near Barnard Castle, The Rose & Crown exudes a “well-judged sense of rustic charm”, said Helen Pickles in The Daily Telegraph. With so much to do in the area – walking, sailing, kayaking – it’s handy that the kitchen will make up a packed lunch for you. The food – which can be eaten in the dining room or the buzzy bar – is “no fuss, but definitely interesting”: think homemade spiced cauliflower soup and pan-fried loin of Teesdale lamb.

6

Kingham, Oxfordshire

The Kingham Plough

The Kingham Plough

The Plough is what every pub should be, said Condé Nast Traveller: dependable, delightful and extremely good value. Run by a friendly, keen-to-please couple, it has an impressive selection of booze, first-rate bar snacks and extremely comfortable rooms. But most blissful of all is the breakfast: “excellent freshly ground coffee, Burford Browns with tangerine yolks, home-made bread and baked beans that don’t come from a tin”. It’s a bolthole, in short, that you won’t want to leave.

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