Will Baker explores a few of Britain’s cosiest pubs and hotels where you can hole up and escape the winter chill.
1 The Anchor Inn, Hampshire
Describing itself as a “true country inn” the Anchor Inn at Lower Froyle, Hampshire, is the perfect place to leave it all behind and retreat into Jane Austen country. The novelist lived just ten minutes away in Chawton Cottage, her final home, which is now a museum. The historic city of Winchester, where Austen was buried, is also a short drive away. Back at the Anchor, rooms boast Tudor-style beams and antique furnishings, and take their names from literary heavyweights of the past. Each room features a stacked bookshelf – perfect for curling up with a book and a cuppa or, for the ultimate countryside escape, try the Rupert Brooke suite and take in the sweeping Hampshire views from the exquisite comfort of your surroundings.
2 Star Inn, Yorkshire
Located in rural North Yorkshire, the Star Inn is in a fantastic position for those who wish to explore what the area offers. Nearby are medieval Helmsley Castle, whose former owners include Richard III, and Rievaulx Abbey, once a magnificent Cistercian monastery which was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1538. Also on your doorstep are the Yorkshire Moors, perfect for windswept walks. Or, if you don’t fancy braving the blustery outdoors, the absurdly pretty thatched inn has a sense of warmth and intimacy ideally suited for seeing out rainy days. Stay in Cross House Lodge, the Star’s nine-bedroomed hotel just across the road from the pub, or simply pop in to enjoy a dish or two of the Michelin-starred food, prepared by chef-owner Andrew Pern.
3 Batty Langley’s, London
Although a new addition to Spitalfields, Batty Langley’s stands in a part of London steeped in history, from Hawksmoor’s magnificent Christ Church, built in 1729, to the area’s Huguenot influence. Langley was a Georgian architect who published popular books advising socialites how to plan the perfect, stylish home. His spirit lives on in the decor, with antique furnishings lovingly sourced to suit the period. Aspiring for the home-away-from-home feel, Batty Langley’s doesn’t have a restaurant, instead guests can pick something from the room service menu and dine either in their bedrooms or in one of the hotel’s stylish public areas – the Library, the Parlour and the Tapestry Room, where the hotel’s honesty bar offers lovely local tipples.
4 The Bear Hotel, Powys
The Bear Hotel has been providing respite for travellers for almost 600 years. With its hearty pub food and family atmosphere – the Hindmarshes have run the place for 40 years now – the hotel today retains much of the welcoming spirit of the coaching inn it once was (and today’s guests can sleep in the very same oak-beamed rooms used by stagecoach passengers). At the heart of the pretty Welsh market town of Crickhowell, with its famous 18th-century bridge (with 12 arches on one side, 13 on the other), Norman castle and High Street lined with independent shops, the Bear also boasts the stunning Brecon Beacons National Park on its doorstep. If it all gets too much, snuggle up in front of a roaring fire in the bar with a glass – or plate – of something warming.
5 Airds Hotel, Argyll
A former lochside ferry inn, Airds Hotel and Restaurant is now a luxury hotel, with 11 rooms, in Port Appin – most famous for the Appin Murder of 1752. This notorious miscarriage of justice took place in the turbulent aftermath of the Jacobite Rising of 1745 and later inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s swashbuckling novel Kidnapped. Follow in the footsteps of the novel’s young narrator on invigorating walks and boat trips or relax by a roaring fire with a good book and a wee dram. With the Highlands landscape looking its best in purple autumn colours, you can watch the sun subside into the waters of Loch Linnhe before enjoying a fabulous dinner by candlelight in the hotel’s award-winning restaurant.