Peregrine peach lemon verbena and sweet cheese

A little place I know - 12 of the UK's top gourmet boltholes - Europe

Extraordinary food from some of the country’s top chefs combined with a comfortable stay in an establishment full of character? Tick. Fabulous country walks and excursions for the following day? All catered for. Ben McCormack shares 12 favourites


Adam Handling, the sustainably minded chef behind Frog in Covent Garden, named this pubwith- rooms after where he met his co-owners – St Andrews and Newcastle respectively – though with the Thames a short stroll away, any messing about on the water is likely to involve a trip to Windsor Castle. Alternatively, borrow one of the Nespresso Vélosophy bikes (made from recycled coffee capsules) for a spin around Windsor Great Park. Tartan upholstery in the dining room has a hunting lodge vibe (Adam hails from Dundee) but the food is Berkshire through and through: meat is sourced locally while a kitchen garden provides fruit and veg for the likes of Old Spot pork with cauliflower, radish and kimchi. Thoughtful touches in the two bedrooms include bottled cocktails and hot water-bottles knitted by Adam’s mother.

Loch Tyne Justin De Souza 19

Travel Details

Doubles from £250, including breakfast. 01753 851470,


With not one but a pair of Michelin-starred restaurants within its landscaped grounds, this 16th-century manor house merits a two-night stay – or, at the very least, dinner and lunch, though that might mean skimping on a breakfast that features the best croissant we’ve ever eaten. Star attraction in every sense is two-star Moor Hall Restaurant, where eight-course tasting menus come courtesy of chef-patron Mark Birchall; while The Barn, on the other side of the old moat, serves à la carte seasonal British cooking, a kids’ menu and a knockout Sunday lunch. Liverpool is half an hour away by train, or just spend the free time in one of the seven rooms (five are found in the main house, two are in the gatehouse).

Sladesdown Guinea Hen sweetcorn beetroot and blackberry

Travel Details

Doubles from £700, including dinner at Moor Hall and breakfast. 01695 572511,


Macknade Manor is a Georgian mansion that David and Rona Pitchford transformed into an award-winning restaurant with rooms in 1977. While Read’s isn’t stuck in either the 18th or 20th centuries, nor is there very much that’s contemporary about the place: the six bedrooms come with four-poster beds, swagged floral curtains, Roberts radios and sherry decanters, pre-dinner drinks are taken in a drawing room while David’s cooking focuses on tried-and-tested Anglo- French combinations and breakfast is cooked to order. This refusal to follow trends is what makes the place so special – a gently nostalgic air that is entirely in keeping with the local area: Shepherd Neame, Britain’s oldest brewery, is a 20-minute walk away in historic Faversham, Whitstable is eight minutes by train along the coast, while the medieval glories of Canterbury are seven miles in the other direction. But why leave Read’s? Relax in the garden (with a bowl of Kentish cherries in the summer), the only sight disturbing the skyline the oasthouses popping up over the wall.


Travel Details

Doubles from £320, including dinner and breakfast. 01795 535344,


George Pell is the director of legendary Soho restaurant L’Escargot; he relocated from edgy Brixton to arty Aldeburgh during the pandemic and liked it so much he set up shop here too, first with the pop-up L’Escargot Sur-Mer, then with The Suffolk, which opened in 2022. Six antique-filled bedrooms sit above a dining room in a raffish 17th-century building on the seaside town’s high street. George’s previous gigs include A-list members’ club Home House and there’s a similar level of urbane sophistication here (guests are offered a cocktail the moment they arrive). Butley Creek oysters are the highlight of a menu focused on local seafood – dressed crab, native lobster – but there are also on-trend ingredients like Great Glemham hogget with lamb-fat Lyonnaise and, of course, snails in the shell by the six or dozen. Explore the Suffolk coast or simply take in the view from the roof terrace.

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Travel Details

Doubles from £192. 07557 333453,


This restaurant with two rooms occupies a 16th-century barn conversion on the bucolic Netherwood Estate: bring your walking shoes to explore the 485ha grounds. With its soaring beams and floor-to-ceiling Crittal windows, the effect is not unlike eating in a chapel, albeit one where food is the focus of worship. Peer into the kitchen garden to see what might be on the five-course menu: guinea fowl with celeriac, red chard, chicory jam and smoked onion, say. Bedroom furnishings are local too, with bedlinen woven at the estate mill – before you leave, pop into Pensons Store for produce and homeware to take back. Hereford Cathedral and its Mappa Mundi is 20 miles away.


Travel Details

Doubles from £535, including dinner and breakfast. 01885 410333,


The Banks farming family bought their village pub in 2006 and son Tommy took over the kitchens in 2013, retaining the Michelin star. The look of the centuries-old inn might be traditional – roaring fires, bay windows, four-poster beds and roll-top baths – but the offering is cutting-edge: seasonal cocktails in the bar and a tasting menu of a dozen dishes that meld exceptional produce to the yield of the vast kitchen garden in the likes of beetroot with goats’ curd and ‘rhuboshi’ (pickled, matured rhubarb). Breakfasts of smoked eel and scrambled egg are no less of an event. Visitors are spoiled for things to do nearby: Castle Howard (TV’s Brideshead), walking on the North Yorks Moors or stocking up in the markets of Malton, dubbed Yorkshire’s food capital.


Travel Details

Doubles from £700, including dinner and breakfast.


A name to reckon with in Welsh dining since the Sixties, The Walnut Tree has been owned by chef Shaun Hill since 2008, himself a famous name since putting Ludlow on the gourmet map at the turn of the century. He’s likewise brought a gastronomic accolades to this white-washed inn at the base of a hill near Abergavenny, though when the produce is as good as this – see Lancashire cheese soufflé with Welsh black truffle – Shaun lets the ingredients do the talking. Two flower-filled cottages are reached through fragrant herb gardens and there’s a terrace for breathing in the country air and an open fire to curl up by on rainy days. Abergavenny is home to one of the UK’s most famous food festivals in September and an indoor market the rest of the time, while there is terrific walking for the energetic in the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains.

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Travel Details

Cottages sleeping four from £482, including breakfast. 01873 737084,


Hidden away by a babbling brook down narrow country lanes, this 17th-century former drover’s cottage is a gourmet getaway where switching off is as much on the menu as Michelin-ranked cooking (not least because mobile-phone signal is virtually non-existent). Seasonal menus from chef patron Chris Harrod are based on foraged ingredients and rarely seen herbs; think wild fallow venison with smoked beets, celeriac, mugwort and bitter leaves. It’s not all so fancy – guests are greeted on arrival with Welsh cake and a cup of tea, typical of the friendly approach. The eight rooms come with calming views of the garden or woods and there’s a terrace for relaxing. The pretty county town of Monmouth is six miles away, Tintern Abbey (immortalised by Wordsworth) seven, and there’s wonderful walking country all around.

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Travel Details

Doubles from £390, including dinner and breakfast. 01600 860254,


Rick Stein isn’t the only chef in town: Padstow has Paul Ainsworth too, at the lauded Number Six, Caffè Rojano, and this 18th-century townhouse. The six individually-designed suites decorated by Paul’s wife Emma feature luxurious furnishings and sybaritic bathrooms; light bites and drinks are on offer from an honesty box while furry family members are as pampered as their owners. Number Six is a three-minute walk away, with Cornish fish a highlight, and breakfast is a hamper from Caffè Rojano. Later, take the ferry over the Camel Estuary for lunch at The Mariners, Paul’s pub in Rock, or borrow a bike and follow the river inland. Don’t leave without a pasty to take home from Chough Bakery, the best in Padstow.

Townhouse 1013

Travel Details

Doubles from £375, including breakfast hamper. 01841 550950,


‘Restaurant with rooms’ feels far too restrictive a term for this immersive farm-to-table, field-to-fork and back-to-nature B&B experience from chefs Tom Adams and April Bloomfield. He was the brains behind barbecue specialist Pitt Cue, she was the chef-owner of New York’s The Spotted Pig gastropub, and this restored 18th-century dairy farm seeks to reconnect guests not only with the land around them but the fundamentals of hospitality and, arguably, humanity. Mangalitsa pigs, red Devon cattle, Romney sheep and bee colonies flourish here before making their way on to a set menu served in the barn. There are no TVs in the six sustainably-kitted bedrooms, but there is a well-stocked library. The nearby village of Lewannick sits between Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor, and there are lovely woodland walks right on the farm’s doorstep.

WH1 7546

Travel Details

Doubles from £180, including breakfast.


The restaurant-with-rooms that put Nottingham on the gourmet map, Sat Bains’ HQ defies two-Michelin-starred expectations: an Eighties new build with views of pylons and a flyover – but it’s also an urban idyll of a kitchen garden supplying a dining room sending out some of the most creative cooking in the country. The 10-course tasting menus emphasise a balance between the five senses and include a vegetarian version; reserve one of four spaces at the Kitchen Bench in the pastry kitchen to see the effort behind each labour-intensive dish. Eight individuallydesigned bedrooms are the work of Sat’s wife Amanda, and breakfast featuring homemade crumpets and butter is delicious. Nottingham Contemporary gallery and the city’s clothes shops (Paul Smith is a Nottingham native) are a 10-minute drive away.

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Travel Details

Doubles from £570, including dinner and breakfast. 0115 986 6566,


The name is slightly misleading: The Neptune is a 10-minute walk to the sea at kiss-me-quick Hunstanton. But no one is here for the retro beach scene. Instead, it’s the cooking of chef Kevin Mangeolles that brings food lovers to a tiny dining room overseen by Kevin’s front-of-house wife Jacki, while the couple make guests in each of the four simply furnished bedrooms feel like family members. Refreshingly, there’s a three-course à la carte as well as a nine-course tasting menu, with dishes based on classic combinations such as wild sea bass with Brancaster mussels, baked leek and courgettes, while a reasonably priced wine list will make you grateful you don’t have to drive home after dinner. Sandringham and the antique shops of Burnham Market are nearby, as are seal-watching boat trips from Blakeney.


Travel Details

Doubles from £370, including three-course dinner and breakfast. 01485 532122,

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