Sunday, 26 April 2015
Having children needn't spell the end of romantic weekends away, so with help from the lovely team at Alistair Sawday, we round up the pubs and inns happy to make a fuss of you-and your little tikes
Bickley Mill, Stoneycombe, Devon
01803 873201; bickleymill.co.uk Rooms: doubles, £80-£90; family room, £130-£140
For you: This 13th century flour mill has wood floors, stone walls and hessian rugs. Everywhere you look something lovely catches the eye, be it a huge sofa covered with mountainous cushions or old black and white photos framed on the walls. Bedrooms are stylish, with upbeat art and sculptures, crisp linen and jazzy fabrics, and bathrooms are immaculate. The microclimate of the English Riviera is never more apparent than in the garden.
For him: Three fires burn in winter, there are Swedish benches and a panelled breakfast room. The decked terrace is nice for a pint or
For tots: There’s a lovely family room – interconnecting twin and double, cots, Z-beds, children’s menu and baby chairs.
The Pandy Inn, Dorstone, Hereford
01981 550273; pandyinn.co.uk Rooms: doubles, from £80
For you: Well-sized en suite rooms in lustrous pale spruce, light, airy and with a minimalist feel; two have private balconies and wooded hill views, and the garden has an eco-friendly mountain chalet. You are in the ‘Golden Valley’ so set off for Abbey Dore and Arthur’s Stone, or bookish Hay-on-Wye.
For him: Built in 1185, it has heavy beams, worn flagged floors and a vast oak lintel over the old log grate. This is the home of Golden Valley and Butty Bach ales and cloudy scrumpy – no wonder there’s a happy buzz. On the menu are organic Hereford steaks, hearty baguettes, walkers’ soups and first-class bread.
For tots: Children can play in the garden that has picnic tables and a play area.
The Exeter Arms, Easton on the Hill, Lincs
01780 756321; theexeterarms.net Rooms: doubles £75-£140
For you: The Exeter Arms is a smashing place, serving wonderful food. Soft coffee and cream colours, gentle lighting, exposed stone and polished wooden tables set the restaurant apart, but for a change of mood head for the elegant conservatory with views onto the large, smart terrace. There are five rooms upstairs with big beds, crisp white duvets, plump pillows and spotless bathrooms. Stamford and Burghley House are close, too.
For him: It has a lovely pubby feel – an open fire in the narrow bar and Ufford Ales on handpump and has a regularly-changing menu. The cooking is classy yet simple, offering modern dishes and pub classics. Praise, too, for fair prices and stone-baked pizzas.
For tots: The deluxe double has a day bed and roll-out bed, and a double and twin connect to form a family room. Travel cot, high chairs and a good, sensible children’s menu also available.
The General Tarleton, Ferrensby, Yorkshire
01423 340284; generaltarleton.co.uk Rooms: doubles, from £129
For you: This low-beamed, nooked and crannied brasserie-bar has been stylishly updated and mixes rough stone walls with smooth ones; there are leather chairs, muted heritage colours and a roaring fire. The dining room was formerly a stables, and there’s a terraced garden for warm days. The comfortable, well-equipped rooms flaunt soft feather pillows, homemade biscuits and Molton Brown lotions.
For him: There’s a great buzz, Black Sheep Bitter on pump, 12 well-chosen wines by the glass and unfussy dishes based on the finest local produce. The food is fabulous, from classic ham and goose liver terrine to slow-braised Dales lamb, roast partridge with port jus, and brilliant fish and chips. Breakfasts are superb too.
For tots: There are two Z-beds for under 12s and a travel cot. The children’s menu includes a gorgeous banana split.
The Bull, Ditchling, Sussex
01273 843147 thebullditchling.com Rooms: doubles, £80-£120
For you: This pretty inn in a picturesque village is dark and cosy and warmed by fires and candlelight. The rambling, atmospheric bar hasn’t changed for years. Bedrooms blend new and old successfully and have comfortable beds, crisp linen sheets and even a hot rail to dry out wet walkers’ clothing.
For him: There are four ales on tap, including Dark Star, and some rather upmarket food too, like filo-encrusted cannon of lamb stuffed with apricots and cumin. All of the produce is from local farms, and game comes from the Balcombe estate.
For tots: Two rooms can accommodate a cot (provided) and have sofas that convert to single beds. Great children’s menu and colouring pads
The Mole and Chicken, Long Crendon, Aylesbury
01844 208387; themoleandchicken.co.uk Rooms: doubles, £95;1 family room, £125
For you: It’s in the middle of nowhere, hardish to find and absurdly picturesque. Peaceful bedrooms, found in the adjoining cottage, are named after the colours used in them, they are immaculate, stylish and serene; Strawberry is Victorian, Mustard has a roll-top tub in the bedroom and Duck Egg is dreamy.
For him: A brilliant bolt-hole that’s relaxed and pubby – it has lovely low beams, a vast fire and squishy leather sofas. There are ales on tap and 12 wines by the glass. In summer there’s a decked area with fabulous views and a big barbecue. Food includes a superb Sunday roast.
For tots: The family room has sofa bed for children and a cot can be provided for £10. There’s also a children’s menu and a play area in the garden.
The Trout at Tadpole Bridge, Buckland Marsh, Faringdon
01367 870382; trout-inn.co.uk Rooms: doubles, £120; 1 suite £150
For him: A 17th century Cotswold inn on the banks of the Thames, the Trout is a drinking fisherman’s paradise, great for watching life float by while sipping a pint in the garden.
For tots: The family room has a sofa bed and extra camp beds and cots. There’s a library of child-friendly DVDs, games, toys and colouring books and the front garden has a football area. There’s a children’s menu or budding gourmets can choose half portions from main menu.
The Chetnole Inn, Sherborne, Dorset
01935 872337; thechetnoleinn.co.uk Rooms: doubles, from £95
For you: A cream-painted pub reached by leafy lanes half an hour from the wonderful Dorset coast. The smart bedrooms all look towards a church, beds are inviting with thick duvets and feather pillows, so too are the homemade biscuits, the real coffee and the magazines. Shiny bathrooms have bathrobes and Molten Brown treats.
For him: There’s a snug bar with a wood-burning stove, a stone-floored, hop-hung lounge bar, a restaurant and a beer garden. A memorable meal might include a duo of duck with red cabbage and redcurrant jus, and an orange and cardamom crème brûlée to round things off.
For tots: There are ducks in the garden and a range of child- friendly meals on the menu. A Z-bed costs £15 per night, but cots are provided for free.
The Hunters Rest Inn, Clutton, Bristol
01761 452303; huntersrest.co.uk Rooms: twins/doubles, £90-£125
For you: Get cosy on the old oak and pine settles and the odd sofa, and marvel at the quirky wine-label wallpaper and horse and country paraphernalia. Rooms range from traditional four-poster with antiques to contemporary chic. All have charming views, with several facing the Mendips; others have private terraces.
For him: The inn began life in the 1750s as a hunting lodge. Try the Butcombe, Otter and guest ales or the Original Broad Oak and Pheasant Plucker ciders. Food is hale and hearty: shepherd’s pie, crusty bread, wild mushroom risotto.
For tots: There’s a miniature railway in the garden. Two rooms have sofa beds (£20 extra); cots are £5 if bedding is provided, but free if you bring your own. Z-beds cost £10, including breakfast.
The Mistley Thorn, Mistley, Essex
01206 392821; mistleythorn.co.uk Rooms: twins/doubles, £80-£105
For you: Located in Constable land in a village where Georgian cottages gather round a river estuary, with views of water, bobbing boats and green hills. Bedrooms are calm with plush carpets and big beds, and bathrooms have a Turkish feel with tiny beige and cream tiles, spotless white baths and overhead showers.
For him: The mood is ‘laid-back city wine bar’ rather than roadside country pub – the tables are of various shapes, candles flicker and modern art rubs along well with the odd antique. Food is taken seriously but with no grim reverence: there’s lots of local fish and seafood – smoked haddock chowder, crab linguine, chunky fishcakes and brilliant chips.
For tots: Z-beds, cots and sofa beds, two large family rooms. Children’s menu, DVDs, Wii and a kids’ pack on arrival. Beaches are nearby and it’s close to Jimmy’s Farm. They also offer children’s cookery classes.
Publicans Magdelena and Bill know what families want at The Pandy Inn
Enjoy a family weekend at The Exeter Arms, Lincolnshire
Snug and cosy: The General Tarleton
Delicious children's meals at The Bull
The Mole and Chicken has a room to suit every mood
17th century Cotswold inn on the banks of the Thames: The Trout at Tadpole Bridge
Gardens and ducks for the kids: The Chetnole Inn
Comfort and style for you and your baby at The Mistley Thorn
A traditional four poster, plus there's a miniature railway in the garden at The Hunters Rest Inn
Alastair Sawday’s Special Places: Pubs & Inns of England and Wales is available now. RRP £15.99 or £11.99 plus P&P from sawdays.co.uk/bookshop