British Inns: Where to cosy up this winter

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Travel publisher Alastair Sawday picks 10 great British inns where the traditions of hospitality and value live on

We all remember old coaching inns from childhood reading. Dark nights, clattering hooves, the grinding of wheels as the carriage pulled into the yard. Then shouts as the horses were led away and the innkeeper welcomed arrivals to a fire in the hearth and a simple meal of broth and bread, or perhaps a hunk of meat. Beds may even have been shared with strangers and the welcome was functional – a stopover not a stay. But such was the relief to reach safe shelter that the word "inn" is still associated with a sense of impending cosiness.

Modern inns still provide relief – but from stress rather than from highwaymen. They're not full-blown hotels, purveyors of luxury and exotic choice, although some of them are pretty swish. But they give you what you need – a welcome, delicious food, a comfortable bed and even good company. Good value is at the heart of it. The traditional British inn is not as hard to find as you might fear. Try these; you'll feel at home as soon as your feet hit the flagstones.

Alastair Sawday's new 'Special Places to Stay British Hotels & Inns' is available now (£15.99). To buy a copy and for more information and booking details for all these properties, go to sawdays.co.uk. All quoted prices are based on two people sharing a double room

The Anchor

Walberswick, Suffolk

The Anchor is one of those wonderful places that resists the urge to be precious. A cool seaside inn where informality reigns: kids are welcome; staff are lovely and dogs fall asleep in the bar. You're 500m from the sea with a vast sky hovering and waves breaking in the distance. There's a big terrace, a lawned garden and, inside, beautiful simplicity – Cape Cod meets English rural. Books are everywhere, along with wonderful art, roaring fires and old leather benches. The food is the big draw. The fabulous garden chalet suites have just been superbly refurbished.

From £110 per night, including breakfast (01502 722112; anchoratwalberswick.com)

The Kilberry Inn

Kilberry, Argyll & Bute

It's a little like the film Local Hero: a patch of heaven in the middle of nowhere, with vast skies, forested hills and the Sound of Jura pouring past. As for The Kilberry, it stands on the road in this tiny village. Outside, the phone box is soon to become the smallest whisky bar in the world. Inside, there's oodles of rustic charm and an open fire burns most nights. Half-bottles of champagne wait at the bar, as do local ales and excellent malts. Plus, Clare's cooking is some of the best on the west coast. Spotless bedrooms with pretty colours, comfy beds, and a hot tub on a private terrace.

From £200 per night, half board (01880 770223; kilberryinn.com)

The Pheasant

Harome, Yorkshire

Jacquie's eye for interior design has recently turned The Pheasant into a small-scale pleasure dome. It sits above the village pond with a terrace for drinks, but the drawing room is utterly gorgeous, so you may well choose to hole up inside. You'll find elegant sofas, walls of books, an open fire and a smart bar with candles flickering at night. Outside, a converted stone barn houses a pretty swimming pool and you can potter across in bathrobes for a dip. Beautiful bedrooms are scattered about. There's a suite in the garden and a couple of lovely family rooms with bunk beds for kids.

From £155 per night, including breakfast (01439 771241; thepheasanthotel.com)

Farmers Arms

West Hatch, Somerset

A lovely inn lost in peaceful hills on the Somerset Levels with a new team in charge. Outside, cockerels crow, cows graze and the glorious views drift downhill for a couple of miles. Inside, you'll find friendly natives, sofas in front of an open fire and a timber-framed bar, where one airy room rolls into another and delicious food flies from the kitchen. There are beamed ceilings and logs piled high in the alcoves. The bedrooms – some big, some huge – come with cast-iron beds, varnished floors, power showers or double-ended baths. There are local stables if you want to ride, and great walking.

From £95 per night, with breakfast (01823 480980; farmersarmssomerset.co.uk)

The Lazy Toad Inn

Brampford Speke, Devon

This lovely little inn is humble, gracious and not like those fancy places that always want to blow their own trumpet. Clive rears sheep and grows food on their land behind, and Mo cooks it to keep the locals smiling. You're in a tiny Devon village with a church and a river you can walk along. Back at the pub there's a cobbled yard and small lawn behind; in good weather, both make a lovely spot for lunch. The interior has a warm cottage style throughout: painted settles, a wood-burner, the odd sofa, good art. The three bedrooms have irresistible prices. (Two more are coming soon.)

From £75 per night, with breakfast (01392 841591; thelazytoadinn.co.uk)

The Beckford Arms

Fonthill Gifford, Wiltshire

You arrive in style: a fine sweep though the Fonthill estate and under the Triumphal Arch. Expect to be seduced by this country-house inn that has risen again, phoenix-like, after a severe fire. Outside, the half-acre garden is ridiculously pretty and the Georgian house is equally sublime. Inside, the drawing room is warmed by a roaring fire; the restaurant has a wall of glass that opens on to the terrace, and the bar serves excellent local beer. Bedrooms are small but well formed with prices to match: white walls, the best linen, sisal matting, super bathrooms. As for the food, there's much to please.

From £95 per night, including breakfast (01747 870385; beckfordarms.com)

Y Meirionnydd

Dolgellau, Gwynedd

By day you explore the mighty wonders of Snowdonia, then return to this lovely hostelry and recover in style. It's one of those places that delivers just what you want: it's smart without being posh; the welcome is second to none; there's great food and the bedrooms are fantastic. Inside, soft colours and warm lighting create a mellow feel. There's a cute bar with armchairs and games, an airy breakfast room for the full Welsh works, then a smart restaurant cut into the rock, which was once the county jail. Bedrooms upstairs are gorgeous and all equally stylish.

From £85 per night, including breakfast (01341 422554; themeirionnydd.com)

The Wheatsheaf Inn

Northleach, Gloucestershire

This inn stands at the vanguard of a cool new movement: the village local reborn in country-house style. It's a winning formula with its laid-back informality and chic English style. The inn stands between pretty hills in this ancient wool village on the Fosse Way. Inside, happy young staff flit about, throwing logs on the fire, ferrying food or stopping for a chat. Downstairs, you find armchairs in front of smouldering fires and noble portraits on panelled walls. Outside, there's a smart courtyard garden. Beautiful bedrooms, some bigger than others, all fully loaded with comfort and style.

From £130 per night, with breakfast (01451 860244; cotswoldswheatsheaf.com)

The Swan

Wedmore, Somerset

The Swan is gorgeous, a contemporary take on a village local. It's part of a new wave of cool pubs that do much more than serve a good pint. The locals love it. They come for breakfast, pop in to buy a loaf, then return for afternoon tea. It's set back from the road, with a sprinkling of tables and chairs on the pavement. Interiors mix old and new brilliantly. Cool lamps hanging above the bar, lovely old rugs and a wood-burner to keep things toasty. An airy restaurant open to the rafters serves fabulous food. Bedrooms are lovely with vintage French furniture and iPod docks; two have fancy in-room baths.

From £85 per night, including breakfast (01934 710337; theswanwedmore.com)

Seagrave Arms

Weston Subedge, Gloucestershire

A cute Cotswold inn with simple ingredients: lovely Georgian interiors, delicious local food and super rooms with honest prices. Inside, ancient flagstones lead through to the bar; you'll find a roaring fire, local ales, window seats and half-panelled walls. Next door is the charming restaurant with fresh food, mostly from local farms. The bedrooms are scattered, some in the main house, others in the converted stables (dog friendly). They differ in size, but all have a cool style and excellent bathrooms. You'll find a sofa if there's room, perhaps a double-ended bath. The Cotswold Way is close.

From £95 per night, including breakfast (01386 840192; seagravearms.co.uk)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

    The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
    Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

    Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

    France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
    Sports Quiz of the Year

    Sports Quiz of the Year

    So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

    From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

    Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect