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Where better to enjoy an autumn break than a glorious country pub with comfortable, stylish rooms and food to match? Molly Monroe suggests five
In brief: Few places are more unswervingly rural than this 17th-century inn at the bottom of a lush, green valley beside a babbling brook – yet it is just a mile from Halifax.
The lowdown: The owners have made the most of the roaring fires and low-beamed character of a classic country pub to create a comfy retreat – serene vibes, gleaming antique oak settles and dressers, lovely walks, and bedrooms and suites with all the expected home-from-home extras. It’s a classy joint all round.
What’s cooking: The food is impeccable, rightly lauded and perfectly delivered. It reflects the seasons and what’s available locally, and is way beyond gastropub fare with the likes of venison Rossini with pigeon pâté and slow-cooked Jacob’s ladder of Calderdale beef.
Cost: From £105 per double room per night B&B.
Contact: Shibden Mill Inn, Shibden Mill Fold, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX3 7UL; 01422 365840; shibdenmillinn.com
In brief: Ranald Macdonald (owner of London’s Boisdale mini-chain) bought this village restaurant-with-rooms on a whim. It’s easy to see why: dark beams, stone hearths, blood-red walls and antique furniture creak with character. Plus there’s some stunning countryside on the doorstep.
The lowdown: This Boisdale outpost flies the flag for Scotland with tartan accents and a stonking selection of whiskies. Muddy-booted locals add colour to the bar, while 19 comfortable bedrooms offer free WiFi and LCD screens.
What’s cooking: Bold-as-brass food that appeals for its well-executed straightforwardness. Expect anything from Dunkeld smoked salmon to juicy Dorset steaks and roast rump of Somerset lamb. It’s all in keeping with the rustic-chic surrounds.
Cost: From £75 per double room per night, breakfast extra.
Contact: The Lamb at Hindon, Hindon, Wiltshire, SP3 6DP; 01747 820573; boisdale.co.uk/lamb-at-hindon
In brief: Nestled – there’s no other word for it – in a fold in the lovely Winster Valley a couple of miles from Windermere, this handsome 17th-century coaching inn has had a considerable facelift, inside and out.
The lowdown: From the outside all is traditional – whitewashed, stone-built and sturdy – yet inside, the textures, lighting and ambience are altogether more stylish. Swish, well-equipped bedrooms and a couple of crackling fires to combat the Cumbrian weather make this the perfect base for exploring the Lake District.
What’s cooking: The food is good and hearty – a dependable mix of traditional and modern. So you can enjoy beef and ale pie, lamb hot pot or fish and chips, as well as risottos, seasonal game and a great chocolate parfait with tangy orange sauce.
Cost: From £85 per double room per night B&B.
Contact: The Hare and Hounds, Bowland Bridge, Cumbria, LA11 6NN; 01539 568333; hareandhoundsbowlandbridge.co.uk
In brief: Past fruit trees, chickens and bees to a cosy cottage of front-room-size dimensions, this almost self-sufficient little pub is the image of a country idyll. If you like quirkiness, peace and quiet, you’ll be charmed.
The lowdown: While the Wellington Arms is all very olde worlde in looks, refurbishment has left it in superb condition – think restored Edwardian tables, pitch-pine panelling and the kind of simple, relaxed feel that lifts the spirits. This extends to the two luxurious bedrooms (WiFi, rain showers, flat screens) in a former oak-framed barn.
What’s cooking: Jason Hill’s simple but generous cooking is driven by respect for great produce, and he rings the changes on his daily blackboard menu. Expect gloriously rich venison pot pies, soufflés showcasing local cheeses, and home-reared pork (fillet, belly, loin, even kidney).
Cost: From £130 per double room per night B&B.
Contact: The Wellington Arms, Baughurst, Hampshire, RG26 5LP; 0118 982 0110; thewellingtonarms.com
In brief: With its edge of the Peak District location and proximity to Chatsworth, this country pub-cum-boutique hotel is a top shout for a weekend break. It all comes with a certain swagger – it knows it’s the place to stay in the area, and it also does great food.
The lowdown: The bar and dining areas have the full quota of open fires, heavy beams and bare boards, so the place is quite a crowd-puller; but the clincher is the adjoining boutique hotel, where 27 rooms and suites have bags of contemporary style and a raft of extras.
What’s cooking: Thoughtfully sourced ingredients go into dishes such as scallops with crispy home-made black pudding, roast garlic purée and pea-shoot salad, while seasonal game is a star turn – and there’s a splendid Bakewell tart to finish.
Cost: From £150 per double room per night B&B.
Contact: Red Lion Bar and Bistro, Peak Edge Hotel, Stone Edge, Derbyshire, S45 0LW; 01246 566142; redlionpubandbistro.com