‘A world of rock oysters and roll-top baths’ is how the owners describe Hotel du Vin – a highly distinctive chain of converted townhouses. Each branch has its own style, with cosy low-lit bars and clubby interiors (think stained floorboards, restored fireplaces and soft lighting), although the group is best known for its food and wine. Bistro menus major on French bourgeois classics with a few British add-ons, so expect the likes of moules marinière, beef bourguignon (on the bone) and roast cod with lentils alongside prawn cocktail, rack of lamb or steak and snail pie. To follow, artisan cheeses vie with desserts such as crêpes Suzette or raspberry soufflé. HDV has a peerless reputation for its wine, and the superb list roams extensively through France while giving the rest of the world its due. Plats du jour, kids’ menus, Sunday brunch and afternoon tea complete the picture.