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10 of the best pubs with rooms - Europe

The only thing better than a characterful, friendly pub with a great menu? A characterful, friendly pub with an excellent menu and plush, comfortable rooms. This compendium from Rose Shepherd draws from The Good Hotel Guide’s best of 2019 where a good night’s sleep is but a staircase away

The Olive Branch Clipsham, Rutland

From the shop selling wines and Olive Branch chocolates, to the sprauncy bedrooms, this is the village inn updated and uprated. Created in the 1800s from a farm combining labourers’ cottages and a cowshed, The Olive Branch has been transformed in recent years by Ben Jones and chef Sean Hope, who run it with dash and a genuine sense of fun and serious care for the food that they produce. You can eat ‘lunch for less’ from the bar blackboard menu, or go through the card in the dining room. Ingredients are locally sourced, foraged or home-grown, with vegetables from the polytunnels, dairy produce from the Vale of Belvoir and meat from a band of trusted nearby farmers. A typical dish for this time of year could be roast haunch of venison with red cabbage, shallots, haggis and a rich dark chocolate sauce. In Beech House, opposite, the ground-floor Berry room has antique French furniture, a dressing room with a glorious day bed and a vanity sink set on the famous Clipsham limestone. Lavish bedroom Aubergine on the first floor of the pub has a well-played-out art deco theme that runs throughout the fixtures and fittings. Come for a cookery demonstration or wine masterclass, and don’t leave without seeing Clipsham’s avenue of more than 150 clipped yews.

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Travel Details

Three-course dinner £35. Doubles from £115. 01780 410 355, http://www.theolivebranchpub.c...

The Old Coast Guard Mousehole, Cornwall

For Dylan Thomas, who honeymooned with Caitlin in Mousehole, it was ‘quite the prettiest village in England’. A warren of narrow lanes overlooking the harbour, it is home to art galleries and three fantastic dining pubs owned by brothers Charles and Edmund Inkin, whose motto is, quite succinctly, ‘simple things done well’. Positioned as the hub of the community, this is a child-friendly, dog-friendly local with drinks priced for local pockets.

The style is unfussy seaside chic, with sofas, oak and scrubbed pine tables and walls hung with the works of locally based artists. Eat wherever you like in the bar-dining room or sun lounge. As you would expect, menus are strong on fish landed at Newlyn (perhaps try the hake, octopus, cannellini bean and seaweed broth), with meat from local estates – our pick is the lamb rump, olive oil potatoes, sweetbreads, mint and spinach – and a plethora of seriously imaginative vegetarian dishes. Bedrooms, resplendent in Farrow & Ball colours, all have a super-comfortable bed and panoramic sea views sweeping across the palm-filled garden towards The Lizard and St Michael’s Mount: ask for a room with a balcony when booking. Plan ahead for a foraging walk or for a painting break at Newlyn Art School.

Coastguard Front

Travel Details

Three-course dinner £27. Doubles from £150. 01736 731 222, http://www.oldcoastguardhotel....

The Beckford Arms Sailsbury, Wiltshire

The flamboyant William Beckford took his own painter, harpsichordist and physician on his art-collecting forays. Today’s travellers with less excessive habits will find all they could wish for at Dan Brod and Charlie Luxton’s Georgian pub with rooms on the edge of Beckford’s Fonthill Estate. On cold days a log fire burns in the bar, where suckling pig might be roasting on a spit as wine and cider are mulled. When the sun shines, French doors stand open from the bar onto the terrace and garden. From beer-battered fish and chips and the Beckford burger to such dishes as chalk-stream trout, chorizo, brown shrimp broth, black-eyed peas and grilled lemon, the food is seriously good. Vegan options show great care, too.

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Travel Details

Three-course dinner £32. Doubles from £95. 01747 870 385, http://www.beckfordarms.com

The Greyhound Inn Letcombe Regis, Oxfordshire

‘A proper village pub’, say owners Martyn Reed and Catriona Galbraith, of their 18th-century red brick inn, sitting amid chocolate-box thatched cottages on the edge of the Berkshire Downs. With fireside armchairs, wooden tables and chairs, beams and bare floorboards, the place is neither shabby nor chic – just a relaxed and welcoming local that pulls in the punters for its quizzes, live music, quality beer and wine lists, and burger nights, jazz and pizza evenings. Head chef Phil Currie’s menus range from such inventive dishes as lamb leg pavé, onion purée, spring greens, wild garlic gnocchi, anchovy, marjoram and virgin rapeseed oil dressing, to the house-special griddled venison burger, which comes with smoked bacon and cheese, ale-braised onions and mustard mayo. There are children’s portions and dog treats, too. Smart, individually styled bedrooms are supplied with homemade biscuits, fresh milk and quality toiletries every day. A family room in the roof space has touches of decadent silver and faux furs amid the timbers, as well as a turquoise roll-top bath, ideal for a long soak after puffing up nearby Uffington’s White Horse Hill.

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Travel Details

Three-course dinner £39. Doubles from £100. 01235 771 969, http://www.thegreyhoundletcomb...

The Cat Inn West Hoathly, Sussex

Pewter pots hang from rafters, horse brasses adorn the inglenook fireplace and regulars chat as they sup real ale around the bar at this 16th-century, brick-clad pub in a Wealden village. In the three dining areas, you can choose anything from a light bite or a sharing board of artisan Sussex cheeses, to pub classics such as Harveys beer-battered fish and chips. More tempting dishes include slow-cooked pork belly, savoy cabbage, pear compote and creamed potato – for veggies, maybe leek, mushroom and Sussex Charmer, thyme and oat crumble. The four bedrooms are spruce and contemporary, with capsule coffee machine and fresh milk. Room Two is split-level with a seating area, fireplace and view of the church. With the Downs and Ashdown Forest on the doorstep, this is a great base for walkers.

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Travel Details

Three-course dinner £34. Doubles from £125. 01342 810 369, http://www.catinn.co.uk

The Rose Deal, Kent

The south coast town of Deal is the latest on the Kentish shoreline to succumb to the throes of gentrification. With a high-speed train link to the capital, spring and summertime weekends see DFLs promenade along the seafront and take advantage of the excellent-value accommodation and dining options that are opening at a rate of knots. The Rose emerged from a refurbishment early last year and immediately established itself as the
top lodging in town after languishing as a down-at-heel boozer for decades. New owner Chris Hicks – whose family ran the Thompson and Son brewery, which had 130 pubs in the area – has given the pub back its character. Beautifully turned out in Farrow and Ball shades, mid-century touches and plush Victorian furniture, its eight bedrooms have all been individually designed, with Number 4 and its purple roll-top bath our pick. The restaurant menu is short from breakfast to dinner, but showcases the best of the Kent countryside’s abundant natural larder and its coast’s fine fish. Roast lamb chop, lentils and anchovy is a snip at £13 and a lemon verbena posset for pudding is delicious.

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Travel Details

Three-course dinner £29. Doubles from £135. 01304 389 127, http://www.therosedeal.com

The Gunton Arms Thorpe Market, Norfolk

You’ll find Damien Hirst in the ladies’ loo at Ivor Braka’s extraordinary pub in a deer park four miles from the North Norfolk coast. Braka’s passion for art is everywhere, with works by Tracey Emin, Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach and sculpture by Sol LeWitt and Anthony Caro. It’s a far cry from Gunton’s days as a country house, when it hosted Edward VII and Lily Langtry. Stuart Tattersall (former head chef at Mark Hix) creates a menu of seasonal ingredients, including park-to-plate venison and local seafood. Gunton red deer rump, cooked over the Elk Room fire, is excellent, while Cromer crab pasta or sea trout with Brancaster mussels work brilliantly, too. Bedrooms are characterful yet restrained. Marble in the bathrooms was repurposed from mansions in Alexandria. Blickling Hall, the birthplace of Anne Boleyn, is nearby.

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Travel Details

Three-course dinner £35. Doubles from £95. 01263 832 010, http://www.theguntonarms.co.uk

The Talbot Inn Mells, Somerset

A sister to the Beckford Arms, this stone coaching inn, with its roots in the 15th century, is at the heart of a Mendip Hills village community disproportionately rich in history. Its style is a pleasing mix of contemporary and traditional, just as Richard Peacocke’s menus run the gamut from pub favourites to inventive, modern dishes. Expect the likes of pulled pork or day boat-landed fish and chips, or cured Brixham hake with mussels, samphire, aïoli and sourdough crumbs. Ingredients are seasonal, local and home-grown. At weekends there are charcoal grills and generous sharing boards in the Coach House. Locals drop in for a pint of Talbot Ale in the bar, with its exposed stone walls, roaring fires and flagged floors, or to watch a Saturday-night movie in the sitting room, in a converted tithe barn. The smart bedrooms are hung with works by local artists and supplied with bespoke, handmade toiletries.

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Travel Details

Three-course dinner £32. Doubles from £100. 01373 812 254, http://www.talbotinn.com

The Bildeston Crown Bildeston, Suffolk

Hayley and Chris Lee – manager and head chef – are a popular double act at this 15th-century, timber-framed former merchant’s house in a peaceful wool village. Bar areas have low beams, a great brick fireplace and walls painted by decorative artist Adam Calkin. Self-taught chef Chris has a passion for East Anglian produce and a great touch. Tongue and foie gras terrine might arrive with dandelion, capers and raisin purée
– pot roast Suffolk partridge with Earl Grey and date purée. Some bedrooms are positively theatrical. Room 10, done out in taupe and grey, has a silvered bedstead, a bathroom with huge walk-in shower and double bâteau bath.

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Travel Details

Three-course dinner £32. Doubles from £95. 01449 740 510, http://www.thebildestoncrown.c...

Sun Inn Dedham, Essex

In a village of pretty painted houses, in the heart of Constable Country, Piers Baker’s 16th-century former coaching inn is today the quintessential village pub, with log fires, exposed timber, sloping floors and an oak-panelled lounge. Food is English pub in style with Italian brio, showcasing locally produced ingredients, with fish from the Mersea day boats. For example, hake with artichoke sauce, lentils, chard and pickled pears, or rare-breed, 55-day-aged British beef steak with truffled cauliflower cheese and house fries. The bedrooms – two reached via an Elizabethan staircase from the terrace – are characterful and of varying size. First-floor Constable has a half tester bed, a fireplace and a bay window looking out to St Mary’s Church.

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Travel Details

Three-course dinner £34. Doubles from £150. 01206 323 351, http://www.thesuninndedham.com

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