The Great Inns of Britain, a hand-picked collection of traditional coaching inns and small independent luxury hotels provide the perfect excuse to ‘Escape the everyday’ this autumn in some of the some of the UKs most beautiful coastal and countryside locations.
From the Selkirk Arms, in the lowlands of Scotland, to The Lamb Inn on the South Downs close to the coast, our inns are providing the perfect Staycation. From the Victoria Inn on the Holkham Estate in East Anglia, to the wonderful Welsh flavours cooked up by Y Talbot’s Head Chef Dafydd in the West, there’s something to suit every taste.
So as the temperature drops and the nights close in, here’s our top five tips for a fantastic autumn getaway with the Great Inns of Britain for those not ready to wave goodbye to a 2020 staycation just yet.
The joys of Autumn are manifold, from matching hats, scarves and gloves to radiant sunsets and tree canopies of burnished amber and gold. If shades of the season are what you are looking for then the Victoria Inn, part of the Holkham Estate, will gladly tick that box.
A project is currently underway at Holkham to rejuvenate the six acres of walled garden, originally laid out by Samuel Wyatt during the late 1700s. Not only do these delightful ‘squares’ ornamental fruits and flowers provide a riot of colour and decoration, the vegetable garden and vineyard provide produce for the Earl of Leicester’s table, any surplus finds its way to The Victoria Inn.
If glorious gold and russet shades, windswept seashores and breath-taking views are the order of the day for your perfect getaway, then The Victoria Inn, Holkham Estate takes our top spot for Autumn colour.
September is the month of harvest festival, of fecund offerings of apple, pear and plum, seasonal veg such as leeks, cabbage and beets. Venison and guinea fowl bring rich meaty flavours and cosy comforts foods like pie and home-cooked stews fill the plate. Our inns are noted for their shared love of food, with a glut of awards, commendations and recognition from the Inn at Whitewell, to The Kings Head, to Shibden Mill Inn, there’s no shortage of foodie favourites for autumn flavours.
If we absolutely had to though, and only if we had to, we’d put The Hundred House Hotel, Shropshire and Y Talbot at the top of the charts for autumn flavours in a very tightly contested competition, and for quite different reasons. Executive Chef Stuart Phillips spent lockdown coming up with ideas to optimise outdoor eating within social distancing guidelines for The Hundred House Hotel.
The result is an intoxicating and innovative Street Food Saturdays, an inventive and authentic take on Kadai Fire-bowl Bar-B-Ques completement by fresh pizza cooked in a wood fired pizza oven. Chefs cook in the outdoor kitchen where bubbles of friends and families soak up the scents, sights and sounds of an atmospheric Street Food Saturday.
Y Talbot’s Head Chef, Dafydd Watkin trained with Marco Pierre White and was Premier Sous Chef at The Ritz before joining the team at Y Talbot in 2010. Since then he has been creating glorious dishes that celebrate all that is wonderful about the Welsh landscape. The Michelin Guide and 2AA restaurant serves the best lamb, beef and cheeses from the Teifl Valley, fresh fish from Milford Haven and Cardigan Bay shellfish, and did we mention the pork belly? It’s the very definition of locally sourced, seasonal produce at its absolute best and to Dafydd and his team we say ‘Diolch yn fawr iawn!’
There are some real bargains to be found at this time of year and The Castle Hotel, Bishops Castle, Shropshire tops our list for fantastic value, complete with great food, great view and great bonhomie from our hosts Mr and Mrs Hunter. Surrounded on all sides by the beautiful south Shropshire Hills, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural beauty, and fantastic walking country, The Castle appeared in the Guardian readers’ top ten for great British pub gardens. If there’s a bit of a chill for an outdoor pint, don’t despair as you can enjoy one of at least four guest ales in front of a roaring fire in one of the hotel’s three bar areas. Save 25% off November and December stays at The Castle Hotel, Bishops Castle.
As the temperature drops and the night’s draw in, thoughts turn to comfort. Adjacent to the wild and beautiful Forest of Bowland, by the banks for the River Hodder, with its stunning views, cosy fires and warm, squishy seats, The Inn at Whitewell tops our chart for comfort. It’s been welcoming guests through its doors since the 1300s and it is easy to see why. Comfortable rooms, comfortable spaces, comfort food and a very comforting and well stocked bar, it is Lancashire’s finest and the perfect place to feast your eyes on the sheer beauty of the Hodder Valley landscape.
We bring our whistle-stop autumn top 5 to a close with our favourite inns for culture. It’s another tough one to judge as so many of the inns are in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and have been the heart of village and town life for centuries. We love the White Horse & Griffin, built in 1681 it was the first coaching house to link hometown Whitby to York and London. It has historic significance as the meeting place for Captain James Cook and William Scoresby who hired and fixed their crews from the building. Set in the heart of Whitby’s historic east side, it is the perfect location from which to explore the town, the coast and the North Yorkshire Moors.
But, it’s pipped to the post by The Selkirk Arms, Kirkcudbright, Dumfries and Galloway. Dating back to 1777, the traditional townhouse hotel was said to host and be the inspiration for poet Robert ‘Robbie’ Burns the Selkirk Grace. With credentials like that, it’s hard not to be involved in the local cultural scene. Known as the ‘Artist’s Town’ due to the flourishing colony of painters and craft workers homed there since 1850, owners Chris and Sue Walker love to celebrate these traditions and are great supporters of the local art and crafts scene, hosting Art Appreciation Weekends, oh and a blinding Robbie Burns supper too, by all accounts!
That’s it for our autumn top five of the Great Inns of Britain. We will be back very soon with our Top Five for Winter Warmers too. All of our inns are Covid-secure, with flexible booking terms to provide a safe, comfortable and enjoyable staycation across England, Scotland and Wales