ROSE & CROWN
This buzzing pub set on Warwick’s Market Place has 13 en-suite rooms; five upstairs and eight newly opened in an adjacent 7th century house. Roll top baths and a palate of cool greens and greys make these a classy act. The menu is equally confident, with chef Rob Hartwell making the most of seasonal produce. Isle of Man scallops on a celeriac salad were rich w with crumbles of black pudding (£8.50) and their game terrine with duck crackling salad was hearty (£7). Steaks from award-winning butcher, Aubrey Allen are recommended, as are daily specials such as confit of lamb belly with dauphinoise (£15.50) – perfect with a smooth primitivo.
Stay there: Double rooms from £85 including breakfast (roseandcrownwarwick.co.uk).
THE EBRINGTON ARMS
This multiple CAMRA-award-winning pub is set deep in the folds of the North Cotswolds. Dating from the early 17th century, you’d forgive this real-ale inn if it favoured the traditional, so the contemporary feel inside the old Cotswold stone walls is a pleasant surprise. There are oak floors and muted tones in the comfortable rooms – but this is high quality, hand-wrought modern rather than stuffily traditional. The decanter of sherry provided on arrival is a lovely touch too. The blue cheese soufflé (£6) and foie gras parfait (£6) are delicious, while megrim sole (£16) and onglet steak (£18) are excellent mains – the chocolate and almond brownie (£6) finished off the meal with a salty-sweet fog.
Stay there: Double rooms from £150, including breakfast (theebringtonarms.co.uk).
THE WHITE HART
A recent renovation allows this 16th century inn’s quirks to shine through but eclectic, carefully sourced décor like the four-poster beds and antique furniture gives this pub a on-trend feel (picture of bathroom, main image above). In winter, tuck yourself away at a table next to the fire; the pub’s courtyard is a great space to linger over an aperitif in warmer weather. The menu draws from Somerset’s best suppliers but has a distinctly Mediterranean feel. A meat-sharing board to start includes wafer-thin duck ham and cheese and bacon croquettes (£12.50). Mains feature Wedmore lamb, Cornish hake and Gloucester Old Spot. A stunning special of pan-fried pork chop with orange, thyme and roasted potatoes (£16) is not to be missed if it is available.
Stay there: Double rooms from £85 (whitehartsomerton.com).
Stripped wood, muted colours and immaculately dressed, clued-up staff make this refurbished Gloucestershire pub far from your typical country boozer. Showcasing local produce, the bar stocks Cotswold gin and vodka as well as Cotswold Brewery beers. The dining room has an open kitchen with Josper grill as well as a charcuterie station and the menu features modern pub classics such as Gloucester Old Spot with toffee apple purée for two (£40) and steaks with hand-cut chips (from £18.50). Bedrooms feature plenty of quirky bedside reading (National Trust guide and cookbooks), Bamford toiletries, robes and crisp bedlinen. Perfection.
Stay there: A small double starts from £95 per night. Dogs welcome at an additional cost. (thewildrabbit.co.uk)
Written March 2014