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)

News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the iWatch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
News
Astronauts could be kept asleep for days or even weeks
scienceScientists are looking for a way to keep astronauts in a sleeplike state for days or weeks
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
  • Get to the point
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: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own