The Rose & Crown, Romaldkirk, County Durham
There’s olde-English atmosphere in spades at this village pub overlooking the green by a Saxon church. Beams, flagstones and fireplace are all there, along with an oak-panelled dining room for candlelit dinners. It’s a welcoming retreat after exploring the surrounding countryside: there are walks from the door and it’s a short drive to the waterfalls of Low Force, High Force and Cauldron Snout. Rooms are in country-chic style: those in the main building have exposed stone and beams while courtyard rooms are more contemporary, with a patio. But one of the best things about this pub near Barnard Castle is that small doubles cost just £85 a night – and no, you don’t need your eyes tested, you’ve read that right.
• Doubles from £85 B&B, dogs welcome, rose-and-crown.co.uk
The Blue Lion, near Leyburn, Yorkshire Dales
You can walk to the ruins of Cistercian Jervaulx Abbey along the River Ure from this pub in Wensleydale, on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales national park, or venture further into the Dales to climb Bucken Pike. Wherever you go, on returning to this former coaching house you can be sure of a warm welcome. Sit on a settle at a rustic oak table near a roaring fire and tuck into hand-pulled ales from the nearby Black Sheep Brewery and delicious food from the chalkboard menu (try the cassoulet of Yorkshire duck confit with sourdough and sauerkraut). Country-style bedrooms range from petite doubles in the main building, which may be tiny but have views over Wensleydale, to much larger affairs in the converted stables.
• Doubles from £100 B&B, dogs welcome, thebluelion.co.uk
The King’s Head Inn, Bledington, Cotswolds
Locals have been propping up the bar of this Cotswolds village inn since the 16th century. A low ceiling held up by ancient beams adds to the cosiness, with oak settles and an inglenook fireplace completing the picture. It’s a beautifully atmospheric place to sip a real ale or a glass of wine from the impressive drinks list – the local farmers who supply the Cotswolds lamb and rotisserie chicken on the menu are regulars. While owner Archie Orr-Ewing has deliberately maintained the pub’s heritage feel, his wife, Nicola, has given the 12 bedrooms a more contemporary twist, with stylish fabrics and wallpaper, pretty rugs, and the odd flea market find.
• Doubles from £110 B&B, dogs welcome, thekingsheadinn.net
The Rock Inn, Newton Abbot, Dartmoor, Devon
This Dartmoor country inn is in the perfect location: head out of the front door to climb Haytor in just 25 minutes, then walk on to the deserted medieval village at Hound Tor. For a longer hike, there’s the Templar Way, an 18-mile granite tramway to Teignmouth on the coast. Back at the inn, it’s all log fires, local ales and warm hospitality, with meals that make the most of local produce, be it Devonshire rump steak or Exmouth mussels. The nine rooms, each named after a Grand National winner, have exposed beams and antique furniture: one has four-poster, another, pictured, mesmerising moorland views from its balcony.
• Doubles from £120 B&B, dogs welcome, rock-inn.co.uk
The Gunton Arms, Thorpe Market, Norfolk
With its 404-hectare estate and loads of original work by contemporary artists, this might sound a bit like a posh country hotel, but the Gunton Arms is very much a proper pub – and has rooms from just £95 a night. Outside, deer share the park with sculptures, while interiors are adorned with works by Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst and Lucian Freud (the pub’s owner, Ivor Braka, is an art dealer). It still feels homely, however, with blazing fires, ales on tap, flagstone floors and steaks cooked over a large open fire (pictured) beneath elk antlers. It’s only four miles from the north Norfolk coast, so local seafood features on the menu, as does venison from the estate. Bedrooms look over the park and are beautifully designed, with Persian rugs and antiques. One room, with a slipper bath, was once used by socialite Lillie Langtry.
• Doubles from £95 B&B, dogs welcome, theguntonarms.co.uk
The Loch Ness Inn, Drumnadrochit, Highlands
Highland hikers and bikers following the Great Glen Way often stop off at this village pub, an easy 1½-mile stroll from Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness. Visitors and locals mingle in the bar over whiskies and real ales. Meals are served in the rustic dining room with slate floor and crackling woodburner, the pub dishes drawing on ingredients from nearby waters, farms and estates. Upstairs are eight bedrooms done out in a light palette and adorned with west-coast tweeds and weaves; another four bedrooms are in a cottage while a budget-friendly bunkhouse has rooms overlooking the River Coiltie (now operating as additional inn rooms to meet Covid regulations, as opposed to single bunk bookings). After a Highland breakfast of porridge or smoked haddock, head out on the loch shores in either direction along the Great Glen Way.
• Doubles from £80, dogs welcome, staylochness.co.uk
The Punch Bowl Inn, Crosthwaite, Lake District
In a lesser-visited corner of Cumbria with lovely local walks, the Punch Bowl has beautiful views down the Lyth valley. People come here for the food: the owners pride themselves on provenance, sourcing produce from their own farm and using wild ingredients where possible. Signature dishes include twice-baked cheese souffle and lemon tart with damson sorbet, and the 100-strong wine list is big on artisan producers. You can eat in the traditional bar, the casual dining area with sofas around the fire, or the more formal restaurant. The nine contemporary, country-style bedrooms include an oak-beamed affair (pictured) spanning the top floor, with twin baths and views over the rolling hills. Windermere is a 15-minute drive away.
• Doubles from £125 B&B, the-punchbowl.co.uk
The Cat Inn, West Hoathly, West Sussex
It may be called the Cat, but it’s actually Harvey the spaniel (pictured) who presides over the atmospheric bar in this 16th-century village pub. It’s quaint, with plenty of beams, logs crackling in the inglenook fireplaces, and pewter mugs hanging everywhere. Ale is from local breweries (including Harvey’s, who Harvey is named after) and the superb pub grub uses produce from the inn’s market garden. On a spur of the Sussex Weald, the village is on the edge of Ashdown Forest and near the Bluebell Railway. There’s also a pleasant walk from the door to Gravetye Manor in East Grinstead, where the owner of the Cat, Andrew Russell, used to work. After exploring, return to a seat by the fire and a bed in one of four cottage-cum-contemporary bedrooms.
• Doubles from £130 B&B, dogs welcome, closed Mon and Tue, catinn.co.uk
The Lord Poulett Arms, Hinton St George, Somerset
Rolling farmland, orchards and woodland surround the village of Hinton St George, home to this quaint thatched pub with rooms. Everything is charmingly characterful inside, with a central fireplace and grandfather clock. There’s an emphasis on the local here: beer, including the pub’s own ale, comes from nearby breweries; gin is from local distilleries; and the unpretentious, hearty food ranges from pie of the day to more adventurous options, often using produce from the pub’s kitchen garden. There are just six pared-back rooms, with seagrass flooring, goose-down duvets and Bramley toiletries, but with hooks and hangars instead of a wardrobe. One, with slipper bath and exposed brick wall, has its own entrance.
• Doubles from £75 B&B, dogs welcome, lordpoulettarms.com
The Felin Fach Griffin, near the Brecon Beacons
Resident collie-cross Max warms himself by the Aga at this dog-friendly pub, and your own four-legged friends can lounge under the table while you eat or sit by the fire in the back bar, with its leather sofas on flagstone floors. There are plenty of walks, too, as the Griffin is between the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons. When you’ve walked up an appetite, return for the excellent food – gnocchi with peas and girolles, perhaps, or oak-smoked fishcakes. But it’s not all about the food: this is a proper local, with Welsh real ales and wine served in carafes. There are just seven smart but cosy bedrooms, and although none come with a television, all have books, a Roberts radio, biscuits and Bramley toiletries.
Note: New rules introduced on 16 October prevent people travelling to Wales from tier 2 and 3 areas of England, the central belt of Scotland and Northern Ireland.
• Doubles from £142.50 B&B, half-board from £180, dogs welcome, felinfachgriffin.co.uk
For more pubs with rooms, see goodhotelguide.com
— to www.theguardian.com