Olive Magazine
Heckfield Place's glass house restaurant

UK boutique hotels for food lovers

Published: October 14, 2021 at 1:42 pm

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.


Best UK boutique hotels

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

The outdoor spa at The Eastbury in Sherbourne

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

Heckfield Place's glass house restaurant

Birch, Hertfordshire

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

Outdoor seating around a firepit at Birch Community

Crockers, Henley-on-Thames

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

Two chefs plating dishes at a chefs table

Beaverbrook, Surrey

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

The leafy and relaxed interiors at The Garden House Restaurant

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

Bingham Riverhouse's leafy terrace, where afternoon tea is held

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 Shepherd Huts at The Merry Harriers

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

The Gin Trap Inn's restaurant, including dark wooden tables and vintage portraits

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

The Private Dining Room -Chef's Table at House of JÖRO

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

Homewood Hotel's outdoor private dining dome in the summer, with a table full of snacks

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

The Mitre Hampton Court overlooking the river

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