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Our little black book of enchanting places


Rooms at the inns by Maggie O'Sullivan

Posted in HOTELS + VILLAS By Maggie O' Sullivan

Inspired by the success of boutique-style hotels, many of our traditional country inns are being given a new lease of life, with an emphasis on high-quality cuisine and ultra-comfortable bedrooms. The best are in superb locations and, unlike their city cousins, have plenty of parking. Here are five of our current favourites.

The Anchor Inn, Dorset

You might have trouble getting a room here – there are only three – but this 160-year-old pub (above) right by the beach at Seatown is well the worth the effort. The head chef is local man Samuel Hill who produces a mouthwatering menu using fresh local produce, with an emphasis on fish and shellfish. Eat indoors or on the terrace just metres from the sea. The three pretty rooms, meanwhile, all have a seaside theme – tongue-and-groove feature walls, driftwood furniture, sailing prints – and fantastic views over the beach. Delightful. B&B from £150 in August, minimum two-night stay.Shibden Mill Inn, West Yorkshire

Award-winning Shibden Mill Inn is a 300-year-old pub in Shibden Valley, owned by Simon and Caitlin Heaton. The inn specialises in modern British cuisine – think Yorkshire Moor wood pigeon breasts, Whitby brab salad, roast leg of Yorkshire Dales lamb and sticky toffee pudding stout and toffee sauce – and is a great favourite with local foodies. Upstairs, the 11 bedrooms have all been refurbished to a high standard, with ensuite bathrooms and contemporary colour schemes (the bold Bower Suite is the room to go for). B&B from £125Felin Fach Griffin, Brecon

Felin Fach Griffin was first recommended to us by Fiona Duncan, one of the UK’s most respected hotel reviewers. A traditional country inn with a warren of cosy rooms downstairs, it has seven bedrooms packed with sort of goodies you would expect to find in an expensive boutique hotel, from top quality bedlinens to White Company toiletries and homemade biscuits. The award-winning kitchen is presided over by Ross Bruce who keeps a firm eye on food miles: on the menu is Welsh beef and lamb, game from local estates, and cheeses from local dairies. B&B from £125-£165. Rock Inn, Devon

On the edge of the Dartmoor National Park, 400-year-old Rock Inn has recently been given a new lease of life by Daren and Ruth Barclay. Chef Daren, who has worked variously at Goodwood Estate, Royal Crescent Hotel in Bath and Calcot Manor, creates seasonal menus that focus on flavour as well as pub classics. Ruth, meanwhile, has created a country-chic dining room with scrubbed wood tables and panelled walls. The inn has eight cosy bedrooms, each one individually decorated in a charming country style – there’s even a four-poster for more formal sleeps. B&B from £65 per nightThe Village Pub, Gloucestershire

The Village Pub in Barnsley has the feel of a traditional inn crossed with a luxury hotel – which is exactly what it is, belonging to the Calcot Hotels stable which owns glamorous Barnsley House just down the road. There are just six snug bedrooms, done out in country-chic style by Fox Linton, with roll-top baths and exposed beams. Downstairs, the bar and restaurant, serving hearty British food, are warm and inviting, with open fires and flagstone floors. While The Village Pub is designed to stand alone, most guests combine a stay here with a visit to Barnsley House for lunch or afternoon tea and perhaps a wander round the beautiful gardens. B&B from £140 per night.

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