Soft beds, hot food and a drink for the weary traveller are all simple things, but it’s a combination that has defined England’s roadside inns for centuries. A good number date from as far back as the Tudor era, and given the enduring appeal of roaring fires, wonky floors and perilously low timber-beamed ceilings, they have had little cause to change in the intervening 500 years. Sure, you’ll find the odd sign of modernity – a pillow menu here, a Michelin star there – but their timeless appeal really derives from travellers’ two most basic needs: comfort and companionship. Excelling in both qualities, here are 10 of the best English inns.
a time, although these days it’s more ‘New England yacht club’ than old Victorian pub. The
decor is light and has a pleasant maritime vibe, with nautical curios and sea-themed
artworks scattered about the rooms and public spaces. Accommodation is divided between
10 bedrooms and suites (all with sea views), eight beach huts fronting Babbacombe Bay,
and four restored fisherman’s cottages.
but has gained wider renown since 2018 when it was bought by Bramley Bars and is now
something of a destination in its own right. The restoration has been sensitive, and the
building now sports a rustic, faintly genteel look, with exposed stone walls and a mish-mash
of furniture in the bar and dining area. There are some quaint pastimes for guests and
patrons too, including a boules court and a bar billiards table.
countryside. In recent times, the punters have been drawn here by the food, which is a touch
above your everyday pub fare, and the range of fine ales produced in the on-site brewery.
These are supplemented by 13 comfy rooms decorated in contemporary-country style, with
lots of soft fabrics and quirky ornaments.
welcome to those looking to explore this bucolic corner of Buckinghamshire. It’s snug in both
senses of the word, offering an enveloping sense of comfort but not a great deal of space.
But the food is really the star attraction, with dishes that use seasonal and locally sourced
ingredients, and that are cooked on a wood-fired grill in the open kitchen.
other contraband on the village’s tiny beach. Their haunt was The Lugger, a 17th-century inn
on the water’s edge. Stop in these days and you’re more likely to come across ramblers
travelling the South West Coast Path than salt-grizzled ‘free-traders’, and the aesthetic is far
more ‘contemporary seaside’ than ‘den of vice’. The 22 bedrooms are light and modern, and
there’s even a therapy room for guests to luxuriate in beauty treatments and body
recognition of chef Andrew Pern’s innovative menu of modern British cuisine (or Yorkshire
cuisine to be precise, since most of it comes from God’s Own County). The pub itself is a
delight too: a low thatched building dating from the late medieval era, with a fragrant terraced
garden where you can take your drink on a warm day. The rooms are housed in an annexe
of converted farm buildings, but have been traditionally styled (wooden beams, hunting
memorabilia) to continue the heritage feel.
situated deep in the lush Herefordshire countryside. It’s an ideal base for walkers and
cyclists looking to explore this oft-overlooked stretch of border country, with four comfortable
rooms in the main house, two suites in an annexe, and three lodges in the garden. The food
is classic pub fare but brilliantly executed, and the bar is warm and inviting – exactly what’s
required after a long day exploring the Marches.
dining area with flagstone floors and wood-beamed ceilings plus four guest rooms decorated
in a comfortingly familiar country style (with views of the tranquil Evenlode Valley thrown in
for good measure). What sets it apart is the 45 acres of land, much of it open only to guests
at the inn, and which contains a wildlife reserve inhabited by foxes and badgers.
high street, a short distance from the River Stour and right in the heart of Constable Country.
It provides a convivial stopover for those seeking out the landscape captured by the great
artist, with an atmospheric old bar, surprisingly good Italian food on the menu, and seven
characterful rooms on the upper floors.
these days The Montagu resembles something akin to a New Forest squire’s manor rather
than a village tavern. The interiors are bright and modern, particularly in the the 33
bedrooms and suites spread between the main house and converted courtyard buildings,
although historic features have been carefully preserved. Food is the main focus though,
with fine dining in The Terrace restaurant and pub favourites in Monty’s Inn.