The Lion and Pheasant, Shrewsbury
Since it opened back in the latter part of last year, The Lion and Pheasant has received a fair bit of media coverage. It’s worth every column inch. Though the overall feel is light, fresh and modern, there’s a real sense of authenticity and history here thanks to a design brief that cleverly knits modern essentials with ancient sloping beams, creaky-floored corridors and higgledy-piggledy original staircases.
And if an autumn weekend in Shrewsbury doesn’t necessarily sound like the sort of thing you’d go out of your way for, Shropshire is one of the UK’s least over-developed counties. Stretching away from the county town are winding country roads, beautiful villages and mile after mile of unspoilt countryside.
The Kingham Plough, Oxfordshire
It may (controversially) have just lost its Michelin Bob Gourmand status, but The Kingham Plough is still undoubtedly one of the best inns in the UK. At around the £100 mark, the rooms aren't bad value for the Cotswolds, either. Nice though they are, though, it’s not them that you come for – it’s the likes of partridge terrine, venison pie and a slice or two of Alex James’ finest cheese from Emily Watkins’ kitchen.
The White Swan, Yorkshire
On the rural autumn weekend away front, The White Swan has a pretty decent location going for it – aside from the old market town of Pickering on its doorstep, it’s swathed in the gorgeous scenery of the nearby North Yorks Moors. (Brideshead Revisited was even shot up just up the road… you get the idea.)
But it’s also on our list of the best inns in the UK because it does a couple of things really well: firstly, there’s a lovely old pub (that’s perfect for holing up in with a drink or two as the gloom deepens in the late afternoon), and then there's a red-walled, open-fired restaurant serving up top-quality, locally produced food. But it’s the balance of ye olde-iness and stylish modern luxury in the rooms that it manages to strike that really seals the deal.
The Bath Arms, Wiltshire
The Virginia Creeper-clad Bath Arms is one of the country’s most romantic places to stay in the autumn. It specialises in roaring fires, long misty walks through the Longleat Estate and a mean Bloody Mary, followed by groaning plates of Sunday lunch when you get back.
The Marquis at Alkham, Kent
The newly re-opened Marquis at Alkham offers a handful of swishly decorated new rooms in the heart of the Alkham Valley, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the Kent Downs. It’s the food from Charles Dakin’s kitchen, though, that really stands out. One of the best restaurants in Kent, it makes a stay at the Marquis worth schlepping all the way down to Dover for – and possibly quite a bit further, too.