My wife and I enjoy staying in out of the way places when we travel. On a spring 1996 trip to England we opted to overnight at country pubs.
We did our sightseeing of cities by day and off to the country for meals, grog and bedding. Pubs offer you the luxury of parking your car for the day, taking a stroll before dinner, having a few pints, eating, having a night cap and going to bed all in one place at very economical prices.
Some of our pubs were really tough to find and a good Ordnance map of the area you are in will help you immensely in finding these jewels. One pub owner told us that we were the third set of Americans to find his pub in the 17 years he has owned it.
Which pubs to stay at? We purchased several pub guides here in the states before we left to locate places we thought would be nice to stay at. Do your self a favor and wait to you get to England to buy your tour guide books. We found the 1995 edition of one Pub Guide at a large book retailer the day we left and bought it. In England the 1996 version was on the shelf.
Do your research at home using library books and maps, buy your books over there. There is also a wealth of information for travelers on the internet, both in news groups and world wide web pages.
We started our trip by visiting friends( retired Scotland Yard Inspector) in Canterbury, Kent and traveled to some quaint villages and towns, our favorite being Sandwich. Our favorite pub in this area was the Duke William Inn located in the village of Ickham, near Littlebourne, Telephone 01227-721308. The solarium dining area was bright and warm and we enjoyed delicious steak and kidney pies for lunch. Excellent bar and food can be found at this pub. However no over night accommodations are available.
Leaving Canterbury our next overnight stay took us to The Hurdlemakers, East Dean, Chichester, West Sussex, telephone 01243-811318. A warm and friendly welcome awaits you as you enter this pub. The Hurdlemakers captures the atmosphere of an old village pub where you can relax over a pint or choose something from their extensive menu. The accommodations are provided in a separate building - the sheep stables that have been converted into three separate bedrooms. The main sitting area also serves as a TV room and breakfast eating area for overnight guests.
Another stop for just food, no accommodations, took us to The Sailor's Return in East Chaldon, Dorchester, telephone 01305-853847. The views over the rolling hills along with the excellent home cooked meals is reason enough to track down this establishment. Originally an 18th century thatched roof cottage, it has been enlarged to include a beautiful bar area and dining room.
Off to Coleford, Crediton, Devon to The New Inn, telephone 01363-85044. This 13th century thatched roof inn sits on the banks of the Cole River. Out in the middle of no where this quaint pub offers overnight accommodations in newly refinished bedrooms. Excellent food at this stop, a must if you are in the area.
For those times we were sightseeing in the cities our all time favorite city pub was The Wykeham Arms at 75 Kingsgate Street in Winchester, Hampshire, telephone 01962-853834. Located behind Winchester Cathedral this public house was built in 1755 and renovated by the new owners to include excellent overnight accommodations. The pub is very traditional serving real ales and excellent pub grub. There were three roaring fires going the rainy day we went in for lunch. A friendly crowd and no rush to get you out of there. Excellent pub grub for lunch.
The Rose and Crown Country Inn and Restaurant ( fancy name for a pub ) is another favorite spot of ours. Located in Woodhill, Stoke St. Gregory, Taunton, Somerset, telephone 01823-490296. This gem is located in an area for nature walks, bird watching and visiting the local basket makers village. Fresh meat and vegetables from local farms and large portions of food are the things that bring people back to this pub. The pork chops were the best I have ever eaten ! Overnight accommodations are available in the 17th century pub building or in Sedgemoor Cottage, a restored 250 year old cottage next door. The cottage is also available for families year round for self catering holidays.
The Fishermans Cot is the one country hotel we stayed in this year. Located on the banks of the River Exe, next to the 14th century Bickleigh Bridge in Bickleigh, Tiverton, Devon, telephone 0884-855237. The ideal touring base for north and south Devon coasts, Exmoor and Dartmoor. The local town of Tiverton and Exeter City Centre are a few minutes drive away. The accommodations are very comfortable, all have bathrooms en-suite, excellent pub and dining area and of course a full English breakfast is provided. This hotel is one of the nicest county settings we have ever found.
Hope to see you in our travels, we travel to England and Europe at least four times a year. Go during low season from November 1st to March 31st and you'll have the entire country/continent to yourself. Airfares are lower and rental cars can be had for as little as $13.00 a day. Visiting the UK during the winter gives you a good excuse to buy some fine sweaters from England, Wales and Scotland, and what an outstanding buy they are !!