UK boutique hotels for food lovers
Plan a relaxing holiday with these boltholes for food lovers, from a riverside retreat to a rural gin-themed getaway and a cosy stay in an idyllic shepherd's hut
Looking for boutique hotels to visit? Discover our botholes for food lovers below, then check out our favourite UK city breaks, top 10 UK culinary escapes for 2022 and UK gastro pubs with rooms.
You can also bring the cosiness of a great pub to your home with recipes from olive's favourite pub chefs, or check out our favourite London pubs.
Best UK boutique hotels
Retreat East, Suffolk
A handful of contemporary barn conversions and studios (complete with high-spec bedrooms, luxe bathrooms and fridges or fully equipped kitchens) surround the main event: a spacious, wooden-beamed restaurant with large open fire. There are plans to move Retreat East’s entrance to its small spa (with outdoor hot tub) and convert the current bar into a smaller dining room with views across the pass, so you can see the chefs cooking what they’ve harvested that day.
A very generous tasting menu (£75pp) starts with five snacks, including Maldon oysters, parmesan gougères with whipped cod’s roe, and kohlrabi tacos. A veg course of pumpkin with smoked almonds, candied walnuts and nasturtium is updated seasonally. Creedy Carver free-range ducks served two ways and a salted caramel tart with sourdough macaron, carrot jam and milk and whey sorbet hint at the kitchen’s ambitions.
Chef Adam Spicer is a passionate advocate of ‘waste not want not’. His kitchen houses a small fermentation chamber filled with pickled grapes, fermented courgettes and kombucha made from lemon verbena grown in the kitchen garden. The team forages for Penny Bun mushrooms, which are dried and used in the tasting menu. Leaves from the fig tree are used to infuse a crème caramel, sloes are harvested for gin to make a cure for salmon, and crab apples make verjus. There are hives in the grounds, too, providing the honey that’s served with cheese. A well-chosen wine list features English sparkling and stills including Blackbook’s Painter of Light chardonnay, which is both creamy and saline. Humbler dishes such as a full Suffolk breakfast, banana maple muffins and avo on toast with pickled chillies are also decent.
Wood burners give each barn a cosy feel, along with free-standing baths and, in some newer rooms, four posters. Metro tiles and Smeg fridges in the kitchen give a clean, functional contrast to wooden tables, panelled walls and beams, while bathrooms and bedrooms feature softer tongue and groove, plus padded headboards. Some have outdoor space, too. Suffolk-made goodies such as candles, crisps and coffee can also be picked up in the farm shop to take home.
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From £185 for bed and continental breakfast, check availability at booking.com
The Rose, Deal
The Rose, an eight-bedroom hotel, is all that’s good about seaside weekends. It sits three minutes from a beautiful beach, and bang in the centre of a town that’s known for its cute vintage shops and, increasingly, decent food scene. Guests and locals come for well-made cocktails (tip: try Tommy’s smoky mezcal margarita), imaginative wines and local beers, served in a sheltered garden when the weather is good. A small menu of classics such as mac ’n’ cheese and schnitzel is offered alongside dishes that speak to the kitchen’s skill and knowledge. Try sourdough with churned yeast butter; smoked beef tartare with tarragon emulsion; roast saddle of hoggett with ancient grains; and Nuno’s olive oil cake, named after some-time collaborator, Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes. There’s a vintage vibe throughout the place. Expect mismatched floral plates that remind you of your stylish granny, board games in the bar, pops of neon in the courtyard chairs and fabrics, and local art. Rooms are cosy and colourful, and stocked with books. Some also feature record players, antique sinks and roll-top baths. There’s help-yourself tea, coffee and whisky on the landing, too. Complimentary tea and cake for guests in the afternoon is a friendly touch, as is name-checking local suppliers such as Black Pig sausages on the breakfast menu.
From £100 for bed and breakfast, check availability at booking.com
South Lodge, Horsham
This Sussex countryside hotel with three restaurants is making its intention to attract food lovers clear, from the classic three courses at Camellia to the ambitious tasting menu at The Pass and relaxed vibes at Botanica. The latter, with huge, sunny deck overlooking a natural swimming pond, is housed in the modern spa with a plant-focussed menu, and is a window into the hotel’s commitment to sustainability. Brunch is a highlight and goes well beyond pancakes and prosecco. Try poached eggs with spiced green harissa; spanakopita parcels with mojo sauce and yogurt; and rhubarb bircher muesli with crisp ginger rice and stem ginger. Juices are blended in-house and include active botanical tinctures exclusive to the hotel for an extra energy boost. Natural interiors of rattan, wood and stoneware add to the soothing atmosphere. South Lodge also has wine credentials – its south-facing chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier vineyards, planted in collaboration with Ridgeview, will produce high-quality English sparkling wines.
From £415 for bed, breakfast and spa access, check availability at booking.com
Boys Hall, Ashford
This Jacobean manor house has a rich and intriguing history including smuggled gold and royal guests. Owners Kristie and Brad Lomas spent lockdown learning everything they could about the Hall, including previous residents Thomas and Margaret Boys who owned it in 1616. They honoured them in bedroom names as they undertook a major renovation to create this vast, light-filled restaurant with 10 rooms.
The Hall’s ‘secret pub’, open on busy nights and weekends, has a traditional feel – its deep red-panelled walls make it a cosy place for a pint. Or sprawl on a squishy sofa in front of one of the fires in the wooden-beamed lounge or welcoming entrance hall.
The wooden-beamed, high-ceiling dining space is a delight, dominated by a huge fireplace. It has oversized raffia lampshades, comfy booths, views over the grounds and a plant-filled interior courtyard. With 10 vineyards within a 25-mile radius, local wines are aplenty. Try sparkling Simpsons or Gusbourne, which work well with pre-dinner nibbles suchas enoki tempura with ponzu dipping sauce and Kent coppa ham. Locally sourced ingredients feature in the smoked Ashmore cheese croquettes starter. Chart Farm venison and beef are good paired with 10-hour ash-roasted sweet potatoes. Twists on traditional puddings include beef suet sticky toffee, and apple crumble soufflé.
Common areas have flattering low-lighting, oversized lamps, antique busts and books. Bedrooms, some with four-posters and roll-top baths, feature vintage rugs, bold prints with pops of bright red and orange contrasting with muted green walls. In the bathrooms there are botanical prints and tongue and groove, with toiletries supplied by Pelegrims. Mary Poppins lampposts in the driveway are a whimsical touch.
From £160 for bed and breakfast, check availability at boys-hall.com
Fort Road Hotel, Margate
One of Margate’s iconic seafront buildings opposite Turner Contemporary gallery has been restored to its former life as a hotel. In a nod to its history, sepia photographs and postcards of the seaside town in its bathing holiday heyday line the burnt orange walls. Design is at the forefront throughout, with pieces from artists with Kentish ties and vintage Scandinavian furniture (Danish teak mirrors, beech chairs, rosewood tables) giving each room its own unique character. Bold-hued tiles adorn neat bathrooms, kitted out with seaweed-infused products from local spa Haeckels.
Local connections extend to the food and drink options, served in the smart, intimate ground-floor restaurant complete with flickering fire to warm up the colder months. Choose between a Kentish wine from the likes of Simpsons vineyard or a local gin (Greensand Ridge is herbaceous while Dockyard has notes of citrus and spice). Silky, thick-cut trout is lifted with Hinxden Farm Dairy crème fraîche. Crostini are topped with salty smoked anchovy slivers and tapenade or creamy garlic cannellini beans. A huge pork chop is sautéed in parsley mustard sauce, while skate wing comes bathed in beurre noisette and brown shrimp. Breakfast is a real treat, with bacon sarnies offering a satisfying crunch courtesy of hot baguettes from Oast Bakery down the road (that also bakes divine cinnamon buns).
Small touches take the hospitality to the next level. A brown paper bag of homemade cookies awaits in the room, best enjoyed with a sherry-laced hot chocolate on the rooftop while watching the sunset over the rugged coastline.
Doubles from £140, check availability at fortroadhotel.com or booking.com
Grace and Savour, Birmingham
A restaurant with rooms within the grounds of contemporary hotel Hampton Manor, Grace & Savour is a sustainability-first operation run by chef David and front-of-house Anette Taylor.
It has its own kitchen garden, a tour of which is offered on arrival. A handful of rooms within the walled garden have a pared-back Scandi sensibility and enticing views of chefs prepping dinner in the restaurant’s open kitchen.
Fifteen well-balanced courses reflect David’s commitment to seasonality, regenerative farming and animal welfare, all as beautiful as they are delicious. But spartan it is not. Jerusalem artichoke comes in its deep-fried skin, and tastes buttery – like the best baked potato you ever had – topped with small artichoke discs with pickled bay leaf gel adding extra interest. A one-bite venison tartare is served on the cutest, crisp base. Burnt leeks in a rich emulsion are given extra welly with beef garum. Caviar is in evidence. Chatting with the chefs from your counter seat or when they deliver dishes to the table is part of the fun, as is the wine pairing which focusses on lesser-known wines, many of which are made in small batches.
Breakfast overlooking the garden is three relaxed courses with juices and coffee: charcuterie, cheese and apples; yogurt and honey; sausage, spinach cooked in chicken fat and mustard, and a wonderful cinnamon bun.
The industrial-style steel-framed panelled windows and corrugated tables and headboards are softened by muted tones of clay and earth to give each bedroom a soothing feel. A huge bathtub and a generous bowl of bath salts demands to be used. Walk-in showers feature Birmingham-based Harvest Skincare. In the restaurant, tableware by a local ceramicist is made from clay sourced from the estate.
From £350 for dinner, bed and breakfast; hamptonmanor.com/grace-savour
The George Inn, Barford St Michael
The relaxed, friendly atmosphere of a village pub with an accomplished chef at the helm, and nine deeply comfortable bedrooms make this much more than a decent local. Chef Valerio Grimaldi-Plant’s time working in upscale restaurants shows in the quality and ambition of his cooking. An indoor-meets-outdoor venue, there’s a covered, heated terrace, made cosy with low lighting and throws.
The scale and variety of The George’s menu reflects both its pub heritage and restaurant ambitions, so comforting classics such as Sunday roasts, steak and chips, and warm treacle sponge sit alongside loftier dishes of langoustine raviolo, venison and a very cheffy carbonara egg yolk. Grazing boards of seafood, charcuterie and cheese show an awareness for trends. Meat, bread and jams come from hyper-local suppliers, with some seasonal veg from the pub’s small kitchen garden served on handmade plates created by Eliza May from a nearby Cotswolds village.
Its position in the middle of Barford St Michael creates a welcoming, community vibe. Original wooden beams and a flickering fire in the bar area are attractive to both local residents and overnight guests, which makes for a sociable mix. There’s also a Wine Room for counter dining which can be booked for up to six people.
Bedrooms are just the right blend of stylish and snug, antique and new. The old-world appeal of a vintage medicine cabinet, porcelain jugs, hunting scene prints, a clawfoot bath and floral-print eiderdown is balanced by the digitally operated shower, Nespresso and luxe 100 Acres bath products. In the main dining room, wood panels are covered in album cover artwork and brilliantly bold film posters.
Rooms £110 per night; check availability at booking.com
The Fox at Oddington
The newest addition to the Daylesford stable, the group’s pared-back aesthetic is tempered here with a light-hearted foxy theme on everything from topiary to tableware. Its airy bar and Saddle Room is built around a lively open kitchen where chefs knock out the kind of relaxed, seasonal food we could eat every day. Sustainability is built into all Daylesford does, most visibly in the pub’s living roof, planted with wildflowers and herbs, and acting as a nectar source for bees.
Chef Alan Gleeson’s menu of modern classics encourages sharing, from a half-pint of prawns and some Daylesford cheese to the full three courses. Small plates including tuna tartare with soy and ginger, and heritage tomatoes teamed with feta and mint are a promising start. A decent, tender pork chop comes with greens and apple; a simple plaice with seaweed butter and Ratte potatoes. Flatbread with lardo, anchovy and salsa verde is a must-try, as is Korean fried chicken. There’s usually a fruit tart and a dark chocolate mousse with pistachio biscotti. At breakfast, The Fox is flooded with light. Oversized plants and artfully placed saddles all echo the Gloucestershire location. Omelette Arnold Bennett, a rich haddock and cheese concoction, is served with hollandaise in a mini skillet; french toast with poached apricots is equally luxurious, as are breakfast brioche rolls.
Wood-beamed rooms are decorated with hunting scenes and local wildlife from local artists. Sheepskins, woollen rugs and quilted blankets add a cosy touch to crisp white bedding. Some rooms include a free-standing bath, showers are powerful and fragrant with sage and geranium Bamford botanical products. B&B from £225 per night. thefoxatoddington.com
Atlanta House, Padstow
A family-owned and run business, Atlanta House is one of three discrete properties ideally situated opposite Trevone Bay beach, a pretty spot to go rockpooling and crabbing. The house is as comfortable as it is luxe, with a huge, bright, well-equipped kitchen, dining space for up to 10 and a living room with open fire. The owners are passionate about promoting local businesses and happy to share recommendations for nearby places to visit, shop and eat.
Take a short drive to Padstow Kitchen Garden to stock up on seasonal veg, meat and dairy (padstowkitchengarden.co.uk). Farmer and chef Ross Geach also runs regular polytunnel pop-ups that sell out fast, and offers cooking lessons centred around a Big Green Egg barbecue, often featuring pork from Cornish Black pigs raised on the farm. Lola’s Cornwall is another family-run affair: chefs Louise and Tim can deliver a four- or five-course meal that requires minimum prep and comes with a beautiful handwritten and illustrated menu. It might include a sourdough loaf, chicken liver parfait and pickled grapes, lemon verbena gin, bouillabaisse, Sharpham camembert, rye crackers and a galette of seasonal fruits and clotted cream (follow on Instagram @lolas_cornwall).
While the sound of the waves breaking in the bay is impossible to bottle, be revived by Atlanta’s calm interiors with quirky touches, such as the vibrant pelican painting in the master bedroom. Wooden floors, jute rugs and vintage fishing pictures speak to the coastal setting. Three bedrooms feature crisp linen, cosy blankets and North Cornwall’s reviving Land & Water bath and body products.
From £1,300 per week, check availability at atlantatrevonebay.com
Rothay Manor, Lake District
Located in an excellent spot to explore the region’s mountains, lakes and country walks, this comfortable Ambleside hotel is both luxurious and homely. It also has a secret weapon in head chef Daniel McGeorge, whose cooking is informed by the region’s brilliant seasonal produce – like locally reared meat and seafood from nearby shores – elevated by Japanese and Scandinavian techniques and flavours.
Dinner is full of surprises. You might start with lamb sweetbread, sticky and glossy with Korean barbecue sauce and garnished with sesame and coriander, then home-baked mini loaves and herbed butter. Dexter beef tartare is made extraordinary with smoked eel, shimeji mushroom and soy. To finish, the chocolate dessert features fun textures and flavours of malted milk and Jerusalem artichoke. The well-curated wine list includes some English stars such as Wiston sparkling rosé. Next to the main dining room is the Brathay lounge, where you can enjoy simpler dishes including an outstanding sticky toffee pudding, too.
Homemade fruit compote, yogurt, granola, juices and pastries make for a memorable breakfast in the bright and sunny dining room. Cooked dishes feature locally sourced eggs, sausages, black pudding and bacon. Veggie options include the luxe truffled mushroom with eggs. In the main house, feature wallpapers and fabrics in rich autumnal shades and soothing neutrals will inspire you to mix and match textures and colours. Free-standing baths and generous geometrically tiled shower rooms add to the sense of comfort.
Rooms from £300 per night; check availability at booking.com
Leonardslee, West Susses
Where else can you take a walk though woodlands, join feeding time for baby wallabies, enjoy a vineyard picnic, follow a sculpture trail and then settle in for an evening of imaginative food and wine pairings? At Leonardslee House, part of Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens on which the UK’s first pinotage vineyard is planted, you can be as active or as laid back as you like. Inspired by the South African owner’s appreciation of Cape Winelands experiences, it’s a grown-up playground centred around the very best food and wine.
Restaurant Interlude offers a tasting menu featuring ingredients from the estate. Each dish is presented with a card showing a map of where it was grown, foraged or raised. Chef Jean Delport’s technical skill makes for a unique experience with playfully named dishes such as “rabbit eats carrot” and the visually arresting “chef’s pasture raised egg with crispy (chicken) foot”. There are 18 well-paced courses, a clever balance of South African-inspired dishes and the more local, including honey from Leonardslee’s beehives with salted caramel. Dishes can be paired with wines, notably those from the owner’s estate near Cape Town.
Book in advance for a wine tasting to try wines from family-run Benguela Cove Lagoon in Hermanus. You can also take a tour of the pinotage vineyards, which will produce their first wine next year. With input from interior designers including Nina Campbell and Sanderson, bedrooms have muted, tranquil tones with feature wallpapers and textiles, giving a contemporary feel to a classic English country house.
Rooms from £350, check availability at booking.com
The Double Red Duke, Cotswolds
This restaurant with rooms in the Cotswolds village of Clanfield is committed to cocktails, conviviality and the restoration of calm. From the jolly, red-striped canopies on its terrace to the promise of gin recovery kits in its 19 bedrooms, The Double Red Duke exudes a delightful sense of playfulness.
Start with a Barbecue Pineapple cocktail in the bar: a zesty blend of mezcal, pineapple and lime. In the airy Garden Room share starters of apple-glazed bacon ribs with fennel slaw; charred squid; and smoky flatbreads. Larger plates include piri-piri chicken, with nostalgic desserts of sticky toffee and treacle tart to finish. Book at the chef’s counter for ringside seats as your seafood or steaks are prepared over coals, on the spit or in the clay-fired oven. In the morning, this becomes a breakfast buffet with cinnamon buns and pastries from local bakery Blake’s, along with sourdough, marmalade, honey, cheese and cold meats. The chefs will also prepare overnight oats and a much-Instagramed breakfast muffin with Ogleshield cheese, egg, bacon and sausage.
Co-owner Georgie Pearlman has put her heart and soul into creating an atmosphere that’s soothing and inspiring. There are modern takes on traditional bathroom floor tiles, oversized patterns on textured wallpapers and simple floral displays. Ask the Duke’s team about local walks – wellies provided. Visit the converted shepherd’s hut to enjoy a beauty treatment or massage, and if you loved the Marmite and cheese breakfast rolls, take a three-minute stroll over to Blake’s to buy some to take home.
Rooms from £150 per night; check availability at booking.com
Artist Residence, Bristol
The unstoppable Artist Residence team has restored a Georgian townhouse, previously an old boot factory and organised squat, right by Bristol’s eclectic city centre. Plenty of the building’s original features remain intact, including wooden beams, pretty cornicing and a dramatic skylight. As with the group's existing properties, the hotel puts the spotlight on local artists, with pieces in all colours, shapes and sizes turning the dilapidated walls into contemporary galleries.
Rooms range from compact but charming, thanks to original arch windows and ensuite bathrooms with Bramley products and rainfall showers, to larger feature rooms. In The Lookout, a spiral staircase connects the bedroom to a cosy sitting area and large wrap around balcony with views of colourful terraced houses in Montpelier and beyond. When the star-studded guest list comes to visit, they tend to stay in the two suites, both boasting quirky seating areas, spacious bathrooms with rolltop baths and five large sash windows that look out onto leafy Portland Square.
The Boot Factory is open all day, every day, with plenty of cosy corners, a brick-wall backed bar and a small terrace strung with light bulbs. For breakfast, order colour-themed smoothies alongside sweetcorn fritters, Turkish eggs or indulgent banana bread French toast. Later in the day, pick from the pizza menu or a selection of tapas-style dishes such as chargrilled watermelon and feta, salt and pepper squid with saffron aïoli and roast carrots with carrot purée and hazelnuts.
Treat yourself to a pastry or two from Farro, a popular bakery round the corner. Silky, bourbon-laced Colombian panela tart, raisin-studded babka swirls and famous soft serve topped with crunchy croissant honey crisps. Mooch up to colourful Picton Street, stopping on the way to spot Banksy's murals, for Italian ingredient treasure trove C&T Licata & Son, local coffee hang out The Bristolian and neighbourhood trattoria Bianchis. Discover more Bristol food and drinks picks here.
Doubles from £125, check availability at booking.com, artistresidence.co.uk
The Eastbury, Sherbourne
Slow down, de-stress and be cosseted at this character-packed hotel in the Dorset market town. Guests can stay in the main Georgian townhouse, Potting Shed rooms in the walled garden or in Eastbury Cottage, with each accommodation offering laid-back vibes and a homely atmosphere. The hotel’s small but deluxe garden spa comes with hot tubs and a steam room for fully-fledged relaxing, or guests can venture outside the grounds to explore the town’s food and craft markets and Sherborne Castle (and sample The Castle’s wines in the Eastbury’s bar for good measure).
On the menu, Chef Matthew Street works with local suppliers and some further afield to ensure his menus offer the best ingredients: Devon crab from Paignton is served with a chilled cucumber and wasabi soup for starters, followed by indulgent and satisfying mains including Japanese braised pork belly with miso broth and burrata and ricotto agnolotti with parmesan crisp. Alternatively, for a more intimate evening there’s the option to book the garden pod, a unique glass snug looking out across the lawn, furnished with plump cushions, soft blankets and ambient lighting.
Interior designer Kathleen Fraser balances muted tones of pale blue and green with colourful prints and interesting textures. The new Eastbury Cottage adjacent to the hotel boasts three delightfully cosy bedrooms, one with a free-standing bath as well as a separate modern shower room. Standout features include the inglenook fireplace, low beams, a very well-equipped kitchen, and sunny private garden with hot tub and dining area.
Doubles from £250, check availability at booking.com
Heckfield Place, Heckfield
The lines between inside and out are beautifully blurred at this Hampshire estate, where guests can bask in the natural surroundings and enjoy food from the hotel’s biodynamic, organic farm and orchards. Saddleback pigs and chickens lead a happy life here, and a micro-dairy provides the house with milk, cream, yogurt and butter from Guernsey cows.
The menu is overseen by culinary director Skye Gyngell (previously of Petersham Nurseries and now chef-patron at Spring at Somerset House), with plates kept elegantly simple, focussing on what’s good to eat right now. You’ll find dishes such as roast corn-fed chicken with lemon-thyme butter, braised lettuce and gravy on the Sunday lunch menu, and an afternoon tea with smoked salmon brioche buns and a classic victoria sponge with softly whipped cream. Imaginative breakfasts include bircher muesli and roasted rhubarb, bubble and squeak with fried eggs, and buckwheat crêpes with honey butter. During summer, meals are served on the Italian terrace overlooking the gardens and woodlands, with fire pits and sheepskins to keep you cosy on chillier nights.
In line with Heckfield’s biodynamic ethos, cocktails in the Moon Bar are influenced by the lunar phases and made with unique tinctures and bitters. Try Turmeric Jingle (chamomile gin, millet, lemon and cardoon liquor, turmeric bitters) or Cherry Moon (sour cherry spirit, lapsang souchong bitters, egg, lemon and lime). Rooms are both luxurious and plastic-free, with headboards made by local craftspeople. Interiors focus on muted shades and natural materials such as rush matting, while dried flowers and plants bring the outdoors in.
Doubles from £350, check availability at mrandmrssmith.com
Unwind at this eclectic mansion house set on a 55-acre former aristocratic hunting estate in Hertfordshire. The main building’s history is revealed in the original wood panels, majestic columns and mosaic flooring, as well as graffiti ‘scars’ that complement contemporary installations of vibrant murals, an electric blue staircase and a coral-hued wine bar. There’s a festival vibe in the grounds; sip on margaritas by the lido that looks as though it was plucked straight from a Hockney painting, book a firepit and toast marshmallows or tuck into North African dishes in the rustic tipi.
Book a table at the sleek on-site restaurant, The Zebra Riding Club, to watch Robin Gill and his team of chefs cook over flames from the open kitchen – think torched lobster flatbread with soft herbs and lobster mayo, corn velouté with wild mushrooms and smoked oil or a feasting dish of grilled Aylesbury duck with coco beans. There’s a focus on regenerative farming in the kitchen garden that’s home to crystal melon cucumbers, prized borage and chicory flowers. For more casual fare, the all-day dining room Valeries offers red pepper pappardelle, Hereford beef burgers, grilled Cornish mackerel and more. For breakfast, choose a freshly baked pain au chocolat or pear polenta cake from the bakery or co-working space café The Store.
Doubles from £140, check availability at birchcommunity.com
In a prime spot off the leafy market square of Henley-on-Thames, a converted Georgian townhouse hosts a food lover’s hideaway. Venture through the sophisticated The Grill restaurant to the back of the building, where two elegant chef’s table dining rooms host intricate, interactive dinners. In The Thames room, sit on velvet stools, strategically placed around a sparkling open kitchen, and watch chefs pipe cheese into gougères, pincer peanuts onto passion fruit chocolate desserts, and sprinkle puffed rice onto sizzling duck breasts. Young, talented chef Alex Payne kicks off his eight-course tasting menu with Oxford sourdough, made using a 120-year-old starter originally from Italy, providing a springy base for whipped, mousse-like beef fat and cultured Irish butter. Highlights of the menu include chicken liver parfait delicately sandwiched between crisp chicken skin in a savoury spin on the Jammie Dodger, and halibut cooked in beurre noisette served with a sesame-covered Jersey Royal potatoes, celeriac purée, sweet fennel jam and sea buckthorn gel.
Treat yourself to the Dine & Stay package to prolong your experience in one of the seven elegant rooms, featuring restored marble fireplaces, industrial copper lamps and roll-top, claw-foot baths.
Dine & Stay package from £400 for two, check availability at henley.crockersuk.com
A curiously brilliant mix of traditional British and modern Japanese makes this character-packed Surrey hotel a playground for food lovers. Once the home of Winston Churchill’s Minister of Aircraft Production, newspaper magnate Lord Beaverbrook, the hotel’s aviation theme is evident, from the Spitfire at the entrance, to vintage photos and artworks throughout the house.
Japanese Grill serves exquisite sushi, sashimi and Josper-grilled specialities, including charcoaled wagyu. The eight-course tasting menu includes popcorn shrimp with ponzu mayo, scallop ceviche, nigiri topped with Kentish ants (which add a wonderful citrussy kick), black cod and beef tenderloin, and a chocolate flowerpot with nasturtium – a nod to Beaverbrook’s commitment to growing its own. The estate’s relaxed The Garden House restaurant is a short stroll from the main house, reached via the kitchen garden, where chefs harvest leaves, veg and herbs. The menu here is British with Italian influences, such as pici with Cornish crab and crispy polenta squid. Nearby Albury Vineyard produces the house English sparkling wine, which is best enjoyed on the terrace overlooking the gardens and Surrey Hills countryside.
Each of the luxurious bedrooms in the main house are named for Beaverbrook’s illustrious guests – Churchill, the Kennedys and Liz Taylor, to name a few – and decorated in an appropriate style, from muted masculine tones and bold stripes and graphic tiling, to delicate floral fabrics. In The Garden House, wicker and wood provide a neutral backdrop for bright glasses and cruet sets, and the botanical prints and patterned plates that line the walls.
Doubles from £545, check availability at beaverbrook.co.uk
Bingham Riverhouse, Richmond
Escape the city at this riverside bolthole, converted from two Georgian townhouses with a literary history. Though compact, the hotel has plenty of nooks to enjoy a peaceful moment. French windows open onto a pretty terrace for afternoon tea, and the country-style drawing room is a beautiful spot to sip a mezcal jalapeño negroni. Breakfast is taken in the library, where squishy teal blue banquettes sweep beneath shelves lines with hundreds of Penguin paperbacks.
Work up an appetite on a ramble around nearby Richmond Park (try to spot the resident deer herd) before a five or seven-course tasting menu by MasterChef: The Professionals winner, Steven Edwards in the sun-filled dining room. Glossy Marmite rolls with seaweed butter, umami Parsmesan scones and truffle donuts pave the way for the delicate dishes to come. Stone bass with broccoli purée, shrimp and macademia nuts; guinea fowl on BBQ hispi cabbage with crispy onions and guinea hen sauce; and sweetcorn purée with a brioche soldier fried in duck fat to dip into slow-cooked duck egg yolk.
The 15 rooms, each named after a Michael Field’s poem (the pseudonym for the literary couple who previously lived in the building), are decorated in luxurious mid-century style, with touches including Hebridean wool throws, stacks of vintage books tied up with string, sensual LA-EVA toiletries in the marble bathrooms, and artisan crystals for well-being. Book a river room for views of the Thames, eye-catching Catchpole & Rye copper bath tubs and to avoid traffic noise from the roadside options.
Doubles from £250, check availability at booking.com
The Merry Harriers, Godalming
Check into this calm countryside idyll featuring stunning views and cosy pub vibes. Set in the small picture-postcard village of Hambledon, you’ll find five glamped-up shepherd’s huts set around a tranquil pond, with an uninterrupted view of the rolling Surrey Hills in the distance.
The menu covers everyone’s favourite pub classics: homemade burgers with chilli relish, crisp-battered fish ’n’ chips with chunky tartare, and generous slabs of ham hock terrine with punchy piccalilli. There are also more refined dishes – beetroot carpaccio with local goat’s cheese and candied hazelnuts and a delicately spiced vegan squash massaman curry. Local drinks are well represented, with wine from Albury Organic Vineyard, Crafty Brewing Company beers from up the road in Godalming, and Vann Lane Gin from the distillery next door. Breakfasts are generous – pastries, porridge and fruit are included, as well as made-to-order hot plates such as the Surrey farmhouse fry-up, smashed avo with poached eggs, and smoked salmon with scrambled eggs. Picnic hampers with homemade scotch eggs, sausage rolls and local cheeses can be ordered, either to eat in your hut or to take on a hike.
Inside, the huts have been furnished with luxurious king-size beds and walk-in shower rooms. Underfloor heating and wood burners keep things cosy, with an outdoor fire pit for late-night lounging. At the back of the sunny beer garden, you’ll find the pub’s other residents – a herd of llamas, whom guests can accompany on treks, picnics or just grab sunset selfies with.
Shepherd's huts from £195, b&b, check availability at expedia.co.uk
The Gin Trap Inn, Norfolk
Treat yourself to a getaway at this cosy 17th-century coaching inn for instant relaxation, modern-meets-traditional rooms and a G&T or two. The vibe is relaxed: a children’s play area backs onto the outdoor bar, and dogs are made very welcome. A youthful team makes you feel at home immediately – you’ll feel like a local in a lively pub you’ve known for years.
On the menu you’ll find plenty of ‘drinking snacks’, such as guacamole and tortilla chips, and fiery chicken wings, plus a decent burger with buttermilk onion rings and hay roast ham with duck egg, chips and piccalilli to please pub traditionalists. There’s a nod to trends in the more ambitious charred harissa octopus, charcoal-grilled chicken with ’nduja and smoked saffron aïoli, and a crispy buffalo cauliflower bun. There are more than 100 gins on offer, including its own locally made Gin Trap brand. British gins rub shoulders with international varieties including Aussie Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz – drink with tonic, neat or in a post-dinner negroni. Breakfast must-orders are Staithe Smokehouse kippers, a beautiful cinnamon bun and the smoked salmon bagel with pickled cucumber and soft cheese.
When it comes to décor, the line between modern and classic is nicely blurred: in the restaurant there are dark wooden tables and shelves stacked with well-thumbed, classic books. Beyond the main house is the light, contemporary, part-covered outdoor bar with raffia, sage and natural woods, a comfy corner sofa and bench seating. Cottages are cosy and stacked with games and books and filled with interesting textures and tiling that provide splashes of colour in the bedrooms.
Doubles from £120, b&b, check availability at expedia.co.uk
House of Joro, Sheffield
At this boutique Nordic-inspired nook, with just four luxurious rooms, enjoy expertly curated tasting plates with access to a communal kitchen space and lounge where you can fix a pre-dinner drink at the ‘honesty bar’. We recommend a seasonal G&T featuring Joro’s own Natural Gin made with foraged botanicals. Later, relax into a plush king-sized bed or slide into a bubble bath in your freestanding tub. Joro’s restaurant is a 5-minute walk away in Kelham Island, once the heart Sheffield’s steel industry, now a buzzing food and drink hub inside a series of upcycled shipping containers. Trendy dark walls and low lighting create a relaxed atmosphere where you can experience mouth-watering bites like a Montgomery cheddar & onion croustade, moving onto a beautifully umami mushroom porridge, then a whipped white chocolate and blackberry dessert. For more flavour exploration, try the paired drinks menu, featuring exciting wines from across the globe and a mixture of ciders, spirits and beers. The next morning, your three-tiered trolley breakfast will be delivered to your room, so save some room for fresh croissants, smoked salmon on sourdough and muesli with fresh berries. If you need a dose of caffeine, brew a cafetière of the complimentary Forge Coffee, roasted in Sheffield. Book an eight-course dinner bed & breakfast stay, Wednesday-Saturday, from £225 for two people for a double room. This includes a half-bottle of Nyetimber sparkling wine to toast your arrival.
Doubles from £225, check availability at jororestaurant.co.uk
Homewood Hotel and Spa, Bath
Though it looks like a country house at first glance, this hotel located in Freshford near leafy Bath has a quirky feel – from a wall of Wedgewood-inspired plates, to horse sculptures in the garden, the decor is kitsch through the ages. You’re greeted by a warming waft of an open fire which, paired with snuggle-into armchairs in the lounge area, fills you with a sense of home. Ideal for couples and families alike, country walks are close by and amenities include a modest spa equipped with a hydrotherapy pool.
All rooms are differently decorated but stay true to the elegant yet exciting style of Homewood. Ranging from twin rooms to hot tub rooms, there’s something for everyone, with suites boasting free-standing baths as well as a separate modern shower. Other key features include plush patterned headframes, Edwardian-style desks and Smeg coffee appliances.
The breakfast is a classic array of dishes from a full English to granola, immaculately plated on vibrant stoneware. Dinner can be served in a private glass dome kitted with seasonal decorations to match the menu. A pot of gooey Tunworth cheese in a golden sourdough bowl pave the way for delicate dishes to come. The star of the show was the tender fall-off-the-bone braised lamb shoulder paired with a zingy Moroccan salad and za’atar-stuffed flatbread for mopping up the umami lamb juices. Homewood is just the ticket if you’re looking for a chic escape to the countryside with flavoursome seasonal food.
Shepherd's huts from £240, check availability at booking.com
The Mitre Hampton Court, Surrey
Located directly opposite Hampton Court itself, The Mitre Hotel couldn’t be better placed for a historical weekend away. The hotel’s main restaurant is 1665, a cleverly designed moody brasserie where every table offers river views. The menu features generous portions of British and Italian classics, including burrata and chicken Milanese, plus surprisingly standout crispy cauliflower popcorn for a starting snack. Cocktails are top-notch: try the G&T with unique Big Smoke Rhubarb & Pink Lemonade gin. Alongside 1665, the hotel’s Coppernose is a buzzy bar for evening cocktails and breakfast the next day. The short breakfast menu covers all bases, from a tropical smoothie bowl and sweetcorn fritters to a full English complete with wild boar sausages. For more interesting foodie experiences, try afternoon tea served in the airy Orangery or spend a sunny evening on the waterfront terrace, with the Whispering Angel bar to keep you topped up with bubbly as you watch the sunset over Hampton Court Bridge. In summer, The Mitre can prepare a picnic hamper for you to take on a boat or stroll downriver.
Each of the 36 stylish rooms are individually and colourfully designed (don’t miss the cosy library complete with a jukebox). For a true treat, the luxurious Catherine Parr suite has a four-poster bed and freestanding roll-top copper bath in the bedroom (although it does face the road). Extra touches like complimentary wine and freshly baked shortbread hanging on your door add to the luxurious hideaway feel.
Rooms start from £200, check availability at booking.com
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