the-old-stocks

These formerly rundown country pubs have been revamped into quite the boutique boltholes. From an art collector with a predilection for patterns to atypical pub grub with contemporary rooms to match, there’s no want for choice – either on chow or chamber.

1. The Gunton Arms Norfolk

Owned by British art dealer Ivor Braka, The Gunton Arms is as zany as you might expect. Rooms are bedecked with paintings by the likes of Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon, while sketches by Damien Hirst rest alongside Tracey Emin’s fluorescent creations. Each room oozes fun, creativity and a smattering of madness, while rich Persian rugs, antiques and wooden beams point to the inn’s antiquity. For supper, the fare is more simple. Produce is local and seasonal – expect venison from the park and Cromer crab caught by local fishermen – and the best seats in the house are fireside.

  • 01 2638 32010
  • Go to Website
  • Cromer Road
    Thorpe Market
    Norwich
    NR118TZ

2. The Talbot Inn Somerset

With floral displays to rival the Chelsea Flower Show and locals selling homemade jams and pickled chutneys on every corner, it doesn’t get more quintessential than Mells. The Talbot Inn – a renovated coach house – sits right at the centre of this pastoral setting. Bedrooms are refined and calming; think four-poster beds, tweed accents and a roll-top bath. Food is hearty and long communal tables in the Coach House Grill are a gateway to local chatter. Earwig over classic Brit gastropub fare; it’s a toss up between the fennel cured Brixham hake and the Cornish pollock for dinner.

3. The Kingham Plough Kingham

The brainchild of renowned chef, Emily Watkins (a former pupil of Heston Blumenthal), it’s unsurprising that you’ll get more than your standard pub lunch here. The well-crafted menu at this Oxfordshire staple features locally sourced British dishes and some Cotswold delicacies – the rich goat’s cheese and succulent pork are sourced just a mile or two down the road. Despite the owner’s culinary prowess and the inevitable foodie crowd it attracts, The Plough has a relaxed atmosphere, and from dachshunds to dobermanns, dogs are more than welcome (and children too). Expect bedrooms in varying shapes and sizes with pared-back decor and a hint of Laura Ashley.

  • 01 6086 58327
  • Go to Website
  • The Green
    Kingham
    Chipping Norton
    Oxfordshire
    OX76YD

4. The Old Stocks Inn Stow-on-the-Wold

With large wooden beams, golden-hued stone and oddly shaped rooms (as to be expected of an historic building) The Old Stocks Inn is a sensitive conversion of a 17th-century building. Bespoke furniture, a brass-topped bar and free-hanging light bulbs give this Stow-on-the-Wold bolthole a modern lift, while maintaining its rustic edge. Expect luxury without the pomp and a menu that mirrors this. Food is moreish, coffee is artisan and ales are hand-crafted.

5. The Roebuck Inn Mobberley

Cobble stones, flower-filled window boxes and a smattering of Parisian elegance, this petite hotel and neighbourhood bistro is the oldest inn in the village. Wake up in a mirage of repurposed woods, mismatched patterns and gilded frames – no two rooms are alike, so pick yours with care. Post breakfast, set out for a day of countryside gallivanting, with four National Trust sites in the locale to choose from. On your return, make a beeline for the terraced garden for an idyllic evening tipple – or soak walk-weary limbs in your freestanding copper bathtub.

  • 01 5658 73939
  • Go to Website
  • Mill Lane
    Mobberley
    Knutsford
    Cheshire
    WA167HX

6. The Ram Inn Firle

Once home to Virginia Woolf, Firle offers countryside splendour and village niceties. Made for a weekend of R&R, the Ram Inn – fitted with only five bedrooms – is a particularly covetable spot. Blending the contemporary and the antique, rooms are simple and clean with nothing too ornamental. Downstairs, the restaurant’s focus is on local seasonal ingredients. Lamb and beef are sourced from Place Farm and the fish comes courtesy of the village vicar, who in summer months brings back buckets of prawns and mackerels after a day spent angling. If that wasn’t quaint enough, meals are served in the converted stable room.

7. The Distillery London

Ideally situated for Notting Hill revelry, the aptly named Distillery is a boutique hotel and bistro located on the corner of Portobello Road. Typically “west” in its physique, the beautiful four-floor building was historically home to London’s first working distillery. Indulge in the finest Portobello Road gin at the Resting Room, and gawk at the midnight-blue ceiling from your plush red banquette. Pre-dinner, sample a few eclectic spirits created on site by master distiller Jake Burger and his prestigious team of instructors. The Distillery’s restaurant serves an equally extensive food menu – think Spanish cuisine by way of England. Pair your feast with any number of top-shelf wines on the menu and if you’re feeling soporific post dinner, they have three stylish bedrooms you can crawl up in. Come morning, wake to bustling views of Portobello Road and a soundtrack of vinyl on your record player.

  • 02 0303 42233
  • Go to Website
  • 186 Portobello Road
    Notting Hill
    W11 1LA

8. The Duke William Kent

You can’t get any more pastoral than The Duke William. Surrounded by thatched cottages and overlooked by an 18th-century church, this quintessentially Kentish pub is a lovely place to rest (and eat) between long Jane Austen-esque walks in the countryside. With low-timber ceilings, an open fire and plenty of candlelight, The Duke William ticks every proverbial box in category of  “cold season getaway”. When hunger strikes, order a piping-hot pie with lashings of gravy – a surefire hit at this chef-owned spot.

9. The Lord Crewe Arms Hotel Northumberland

The Lord Crewe Arms is the perfect hideaway from city life. With domineering decadence across the lower levels of the hotel, the 21 guest rooms are decorated with the surrounding heathery Northumbrian hilltops in mind; think warm siennas and deep greens. Downstairs, The Bishop’s Dining Room serves standout food – largely traditional, but not without some fun. Bloody Mary tomatoes on toast are a breakfast favourite – and a necessity if you’ve spent the evening in The Crypt, the hotel’s medieval vaulted pub.

  • 01 4346 77100
  • Go to Website
  • The Square
    Blanchland
    Northumberland
    DH8 9SP

10. The Lygon Arms Cotswolds

Harboured in the Cotswold Hills, open fireplaces, vaulted ceilings and original wood panelling welcome you upon arrival at this cosy hotel. Steeped in history, the Lygon Inn dates back to the fourteenth century – the hotel famously served as a base for both armies during the English Civil War. Choose between The Cromwell Room, where the military leader spent the night before the legendary Battle of Worcester, and The King Charles I Suite, complete with the king’s original coat of arms. Spend your day admiring recently restored antiques, original paintings and period features, or finding true tranquillity in the Lygon Arms Spa, a peaceful sanctuary next to the hotel’s three-acre private garden. Be sure to check the guest book before departure, which has been signed by Prince Phillip, the Queen and other iconic guests  included Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor who retreated here during the scandal of their affair.

The Gunton Arms

The Talbot Inn

The Kingham Plough

The Old Stocks Inn

The Roebuck Inn

The Ram Inn

The Distillery

The Duke William

The Lord Crewe Arms Hotel

The Lygon Arms

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