Old Downton Lodge
Downton on the Rock, Ludlow, Shropshire SY8 2HU
Tucked into the rolling Shropshire hills just outside Ludlow, Old Downton Lodge has been here so long it almost feels part of the landscape – a mixture of timbered houses, barns and outbuildings that have been ingeniously converted to one of the most comfortable rural boltholes you could imagine. With just nine guest rooms grouped around a herb and flower-filled courtyard, this feels like the secluded country retreat you’ve always dreamed of – and the good news is you don’t have to leave, because, in keeping with Ludlow’s latent foodie traditions, it also hosts an acclaimed restaurant, atmospherically housed in a grand Norman hall, where chef Karl Martin prepares different tasting menus every night from Tuesday to Saturday – inventive seasonal affairs using local produce that are excellent value at £40–£50 a head.
When you’re not partaking of Karl’s feasts, you can relax in a comfy sitting room fashioned out of the old stables, before retiring to rooms converted from former medieval barns that sport high-timbered ceilings, stone floors covered with Turkish rugs, en-suite showers or baths and extremely comfy beds, including a couple of four-posters. They also have Freeview TVs, CD and DVD players and all mod cons, although the wi-fi signal isn’t great. As for the location, it couldn't be better, with glorious walks and countryside right outside the window, and Ludlow just a few minutes' drive away.
Martin Dunford is Publisher of Cool Places, a new website from the creators of Rough Guides and Cool Camping, suggesting the best places to stay, eat, drink and shop in Britain (coolplaces.co.uk)
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