Hotel Of The Week: Red Lion Hotel, Salisbury

No grand tour is authentic without a stopover at a coaching inn. And if you're on the English history trail, you really ought to call a halt at the Red Lion Hotel in Salisbury. The past is in the grain of its very timbers

Dating from the 13th century, this ancient coaching inn can be found in the heart of the historic city of Salisbury. It was built to provide lodgings for the draughtsmen working on the nearby cathedral, but was later put to use as a staging post for mail coach services from London - it claims to be the oldest purpose-built hotel in Britain.

Set around an ancient creeper-clad courtyard, the half-timbered building has been extended and embellished many times over the centuries, resulting in an intriguing mix of styles. The most recent find is a medieval stone fireplace, not unlike one found on the site of the original cathedral. There is also a fine example of a wattle-and-daub wall dating from 1220 in the restaurant.

Today's visitors can soak up all this history amid the antique furnishings, while keeping in touch with the modern world through its mod cons.

The comfort factor

Each of the 51 rooms varies in size and all are individually decorated. For special occasions there are two antique four-posters and a spacious suite overlooking the pretty courtyard. Cats, both big and small, supply the theme: every bed provides a lair for a big soft-toy lion and there are lots of wooden cats curled up about the place. Facilities in the rooms include satellite TV and internet access.

The bathroom

Most of the bathrooms have been squeezed into original rooms, so they vary in layout and size but, where possible, they have separate bath and shower. White towels and bathrobes are provided as are toiletries - courtesy of Best Western - definitely best left where they are.

The food and drink

Eat your way through the day. Breakfast is a hearty affair, while lunches are light with jacket potatoes and wraps. The Frothblowers Arms, next door, is a particularly snug bar in which to have a pre-dinner tipple. And the dinner menu in the Vine Restaurant offers traditional English cuisine with Mediterranean touches, complimented by a good, mostly French, wine list.

The people

A mixed bag of young marrieds and older couples, plus international tourists on the English history trail.

The area

Salisbury itself is packed with medieval buildings to admire: a pretty market square, a fine museum and, of course, that stunning cathedral, which not only claims the tallest spire in England at 404 feet but Europe's oldest working clock, too. Don't miss the magnificent Cathedral Close and the best-preserved original Magna Carta. Nearby attractions include Stonehenge and the New Forest.

The access

Quite surprisingly for such an old building, most of it can be accessed by wheelchair. One room is specifically designed for people with disabilities. Children welcome. No pets.

The damage

B&B in a double room, based on two sharing, costs from £126 per night in December. Expect to pay around £25 for a three-course dinner in the Vine Restaurant without wine.

The address

Milford Street, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP1 2AN (01722 323 334; the-redlion.co.uk).



LIKED THAT? TRY THESE

* Once a staging post, The New Inn at Coln (01285 750 651; new-inn.co.uk), near Cirencester, was built by decree of Elizabeth I.

* A coaching inn and part of the oldest distillery in the world, sections of Bushmills Inn (028-2073 3000; bushmills.com), in Co Antrim, date from the 17th century.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
tech

Company reveals $542m investment in start-up building 'a rocket ship for the mind'

News
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
i100
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
football

News
i100
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

    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

    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
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album