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 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;

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;

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;

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;

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;

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;

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;

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;

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;

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;

Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
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

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London