An oatmeal stone vicarage with 18th-century bones and footworn flagstones, plus a medieval dovecot and a baptism pool in the grounds. Its original occupant sired 14 children - hence the 15 bedrooms - and vicars poured tea here until the s; its first incarnation as a hotel was more than a decade ago.
The mossy churchyard next door would have Donne and Betjeman reaching for their couplets. Behind the scenes Former music executive and co-owner Alex Payne grew up in the Cotswolds and wanted to create a homely hangout - 'not the Electric in the country'. The result is an assured space that's as comfortable as corduroy, with an almost Nordic sensibility - petrol-blue walls, high-backed club chairs, cast-iron baths, encaustic tiles.
Payne also picked up the Potting Shed pub down the lane, a handy stepping stone for longer walks into thistle-down, rabbit-ploughed country acres, or runs through fields of wheat. Sleep Of the bedrooms in the main house, number 6 is the largest, with a four-poster and Arts-and-Craftsy wallpaper in the big bathroom, plus several window seats for daydreaming. A separate cottage has three bedrooms, with a wood-burning stove and French doors opening to the lawn. Eat The cockle-warming menu is on first-name terms with dukkah, seaweed butter and tonka beans while embracing an old-fashioned heartiness - mains of veal and lamb rump, starters of ham hock and a clatter of just-gathered razor clams.
It's a place to throw caution to the wind and order the chateaubriand. Breakfast waffles, full English, sourdough-and-avocado is served in the airy bubble of the Glasshouse, with its pretty herringbone brick floor. Young London couples, curious locals and rumbustious clan gatherings ordering more rounds of Pisco Sours from Shane the barman.
We like The swimming pool, hidden by a hedgerow; the booky nook of colour-matched vintage Penguins in the sitting room. And the way a waiter bearing Champagne coupes will seek you out no matter which sofa you sink into. We don't like The water in that pool was heated but too darn cold to jump into. By Rick Jordan. For a thumping food fix in an atmospheric, muddy-boot base planted deep in the leafy wolds, but only 40 minutes from London Marylebone station. For bracing walks across fields that form part of the mile Chiltern Way, well-armed with homemade Scotch eggs and lemonade from the kitchen.
A beautifully renovated, 18th-century inn with a tiny bar, a restaurant powered by a wood-fired open grill and five cosy bedrooms.
There's a huge, sloping garden and benches with views past a weeping willow to the countryside beyond. It's also the inspiration for The Mash Inn's emblem, the pineapple, which appears in a brightly coloured painting by Nick's son, Jake, in the bar and as bronze ornaments in the bedrooms.
Sleep Of the six rooms, the best are numbers 2 and 3 at the back, for views of the garden. Industrial lamps sit on tree-trunk bedside tables; the stone-and-navy stripe throws and cushions on the bed are by Nkuku. There are ridiculously deep baths but no showers in the lovely, geometric-tiled bathrooms. Room 1 is under the eaves and has no view, but it does have a sofa in a small seating area - very handy for breakfast homemade granola and yogurt, still-warm croissants and jams , which is delivered to your door on a tray. Eat The real reason for coming here is the nine-course tasting menu from chef Jon Parry formerly of Trinity restaurant in Clapham.
Almost everything is cooked over an open flame on the custom-made range, including partridges, chanterelles and barbecued scallops with smoked tomato.
The pretty garden salad, with yellow cucumber flowers, baby beets and green beans, is sensational, and the apple and blackberry parfait with sorrel granita sublime. On the tables are modern gold candelabras and ink pots used as vases, filled with mint and rosemary. Books on wild cocktails and butchery are stacked along one windowsill; LPs and jars of pickling vegetables sit on shelves near the kitchen. Londoners wanting an easy escape from the city; smartly dressed locals out for weekend date nights and serious foodies ogling the open grill.
Only children over 16 are allowed to stay. We like Watching the chef at work. Between throwing potatoes on the embers, he'll tell you all about his experiments with fire-pit squash, which involves cooking them in the ground using buried hot coals. We don't like The lack of a phone signal, although there is Wi-Fi. Or go in the opposite direction to the historic town of Thame. While you're here, pick up handmade chutneys, savoury tarts and award-winning cheeses from the deli counter at What's Cooking near the marketplace.
Because it's a fresh and funky new escape created by Justin and Charlotte Salisbury they are just 30 but this is their fourth opening. For a last blast of autumn stalking through the English countryside, and rewarding yourself with a gin and tonic by the fire afterwards. A gloriously quirky old pub with rooms. Instead, there is conversation-starting modern art layered with bold interiors, all done with the couple's confident flair.
Behind the scene s Artist Residence began in Brighton when Justin, then 20, took over his mother's seafront guesthouse after she was involved in an accident she has since recovered. It needed a complete overhaul and, with no money, Justin and then-girlfriend Charlotte posted an ad on Gumtree looking for artists to decorate a room each in return for bed and board. Since then, they've added hotels in Penzance and London's Pimlico. Here in Oxfordshire, the former Mason Arms in honey-stoned South Leigh has a story too: its cigar-loving previous owner Gerry Stonhill flouted the smoking ban paying the fine in coppers , had famous fans Raymond Blanc and enemies Michael Winner , and reportedly refused to let in children, dogs or vegetarians.
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Sleep At the moment there are eight bedrooms under eaves in the thatched pub, including three Farmhouse Lofts, a suite with a deep cooper bath in the bedroom, a number called The Rabbit Hole and a Shepherd's Hut. In each there are Sri Lankan tea crates used as bedside tables, Moroccan rugs and scalloped headboards upholstered in vintage goat-hair fabric.
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Eat The 16th-century building's warren-like layout, divided by a huge inglenook fireplace, lends itself to cleverly tucking in a smart restaurant, cocktail bar and proper pub they've called the Mason Arms. Behind the robata grill, the kitchen turns out pub classics like roast beef with all the trimmings and sticky toffee pudding and contemporary plates such as cauliflower steak with a peanut sauce.
Couples from London in matching denim and Breton tops. Old-school locals in for a pint with their dogs. Rosy-cheeked families on a Sunday cycle stopping off for a bowl of fat chips. We like The art, of course: Lucy Sparrow's cornershop supplies made of felt beside the bar; a graphically scrawled Shard by Stephen Anthony Davids on the landing; The Connor Brothers' redacted Number 10 correspondence in the downstairs loos. Sunday lunch is better value. Out and about Town or country?
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Head 20 minutes east to Oxford, where you can grab a picnic at 2 North Parade deli, above, or there's a market on the entire street every second Saturday on your way to pick up a punt at Cherwell Boathouse. Going west, pit-stop at The Old Pill Factory in Witney to rake through its antique treasures before hitting the Cotswolds' mothership, Daylesford. Why stay now? Everyone should have a weekend break in London, if only to avoid the crowds in the country.
Redford was the man behind the hit pop-up Forza Win in Peckham, and he's introduced a similarly cool vibe here with bare bulbs and craft beers on tap. It's been so popular the boys have since opened a restaurant on the first floor, a rooftop pub garden and, earlier this year, five bedrooms.
Like a concept store, The Culpeper flows heavenward from the bar traditional oak panelling, parquet floors, leafy terrariums to the restaurant exposed brick, Scandi tables and chairs and up, up to the bedrooms original fireplaces, bare plaster walls. At the top of the beanstalk is the rooftop veg patch where Jack the gardener grows salads and tomatoes for the restaurant, and rosemary and thyme to be dissolved into tinctures for twisted Sazeracs and Sidecars.
In spring, locals are invited to help with the planting; in summer, the greenhouse is open to all as a rooftop bar. Behind the scenes The Victorian building has always been a neighbourhood pub and a Herb Lester-illustrated map in each bedroom introduces local characters including Joan, the cat lady of Spitalfields, artist Tracy Emin and milkman Kevin Read but not Jack the Ripper, though it's his territory. Had it been drawn in the 17th century, it would have featured herbalist Nicholas Culpeper, after whom the place is named. It's been wonderfully restored, attracting a hip crowd from across London and now, with the bedrooms, from beyond the M Sleep The surprisingly big bedrooms attract an astonishing amount of natural light and are beautifully assembled, with snazzy SCP floor cushions, sheepskin throws and cacti in concrete pots, as well as wonderfully distressed, wallpaper-glue-stained walls.
Eat Former Terroirs chef Sandy Jarvis is inspired by whatever's growing in the rooftop garden. Radish and fennel are key components in a dish of red mullet with a rich langoustine broth; milk from Chichester cows is churned for homemade ricotta with roast asparagus and courgette. Beers are all locally brewed, the sizeable wine list is entirely natural and the creamy Marron Chaud nightcap is a dream.
The pub is buzzy even on Monday evenings, with an after-work crowd - Oliver Peoples shades holding back glossy bobs - chattering around the country-kitchen long tables. There's always a couple of white-haired regulars propping up the bar. We don't like Breakfast pastries are bought from Paul. By Hazel Lubbock.
Right in the centre of pretty, seaside Southwold, The Swan has been an affable gathering point for centuries. Closed for most of last year, The Swan, which was lovely but a little worn, has emerged brighter and bolder. And it is certainly unrecognisable — not quite Firmdale-on-sea, but not far off.
After a sprinkling of broadsheet reviews, we think it deserves more of a shout out. A 17th-century coaching house and one of three pubs in Southwold run by Adnams brewery. Sleep The 24 bedrooms in the main house include six very big suites with separate living areas, wood panelling and lovely market-place views.
Another 11 rooms are arranged around the lawn behind, and look across to the lighthouse. Most have four-posters with hot-pink-painted spindles, along with beautiful recycled wool blankets, starry-tiled or tongue-and-groove-chic bathrooms, and mini bars stocked with Adnams goodies, including an on-the-house bottle of Copper House gin.
Everything can be served as a small or a large plate. At both, the drinks menu showcases what Adnams does best — from its Ghost Ship pale ale to its Mendoza Malbec.
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Locals and out-of-towners alike. We like How cosily inviting it feels on a windswept day and how welcome children are: staff make an effort to learn their names and there are scooters, buckets and crabbing lines to borrow. For crabbing, stroll up to the harbour; from here, you can catch the Walberswick Ferry actually a rowing boat for a pint at The Bell Inn.