As you leave the motorway behind, and wend your way along the undulating A-roads towards Ludlow, there is a real sense of stepping back in time. OK, there are supermarkets and even the odd high-street coffee chain, but the Shropshire town retains its distinctive character with an open-air market six days a week, a historic castle, a clutch of traditional butchers' shops and lots of proper pubs. Right in the centre of all of this is The Townhouse, opened last September by two-Michelin-starred chef Claude Bosi and his brother Cedric, in a listed timbered building overlooking Castle Square.
The Bosi brothers worked together at Hibiscus in Ludlow, until Claude relocated the restaurant to Mayfair in 2007. The siblings say their intention with The Townhouse was to address the shortage of high quality accommodation locally. They have also operated a number of pubs together in the past, and Cedric now runs the nearby Charlton Arms with his wife, Amy.
The nine en-suite rooms are spread out over three floors and are divided into three categories: deluxe, superior and suites. All except one have a bath and shower, flat-screen TV, Wi-Fi, and tea and coffee-making facilities.
I stayed in room 8, a spacious, comfortable superior king on the first floor at the front of the building. There is more than a whiff of chintz about the place with floral curtains and bedspread, and dark wood antique-style furnishings, but they looked elegant rather than dated against the backdrop of exposed original wood beams and white-washed walls.
With no dining room, the only public space is a small but well-maintained patio area at the gated entrance to the building. The reception is housed in a separate building a few doors away, so it seems more like a rented apartment than a traditional B&B experience.
The continental breakfast is served at the family-run Carvell's tea room in King Street. I was met with a hearty welcome by the tea room's owner, while his wife served excellent coffee, cereal and a toasted teacake on vintage bone china crockery. I was urged to order as much as I liked from a menu that included croissants, crumpets, toast and preserves, yoghurts, fruit juices and fresh fruit.
Ludlow Castle (01584 874465; ludlowcastle.com) is one of the country's finest medieval stone-built castle ruins. The castle is also the venue for a number of major events throughout the year, including a food festival in September, and Medieval Christmas Fayre in late November/early December.
For walkers, the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre (01588 676 060; shropshirehillsdiscoverycentre.co.uk), a 15-minute drive north of the town centre, is the ideal spot to join the Shropshire Way. The 224km of signposted footpaths loop through the entire county, but you can choose shorter, circular routes including one to the nearby Sallow Coppice bluebell woodland. The centre also offers diversions for the family in the form of a full-sized replica mammoth skeleton, virtual air balloon rides and hi-tech treasure hunts.
The Ludlow Food Centre (01584 856000; ludlowfoodcentre.co.uk), on the Oakly Park Estate in Bromfield, on the outskirts of town, is a must visit for foodies. It was voted Britain's Best Food Hall in 2014 and you can watch cheese and bread being made through the picture windows into the centre's own production kitchens.
The town has long held a reputation for good food, and you'll find everything from top-end restaurants like Mr Underhills (01584 874431; mr-underhills.co.uk) and La Becasse (01584 872 325; labecasse.co.uk) to the modern artisan Pizza Ten (01584 879 450; pizzaten.co.uk).
Wander up Corve Street to The Unicorn (01584 873 555; unicorn-ludlow.co.uk), a wonderfully atmospheric pub with an open fire, beams and panelled walls where you can enjoy a pint of Stairway bitter from the Ludlow Brewing Company.
Cedric and Amy Bosi's The Charlton Arms (01584 872 813; thecharltonarms.co.uk) serves some of the best pub food in town. Choose between inventive dishes such as cod and salmon fishcake with Bombay potaoes and Madras hollandaise (£7.50) or pub classics including beer battered fish and chips (£12.50).
The Townhouse, Broad Street, Valentine Walk, Ludlow SY8 1NG (01584 877143; townhouseludlow.co.uk). Rooms start from £90 for a double, including continental breakfast.Reuse content