I'm a great one for finding 'Pubs with Rooms' in little-known villages. I appreciate the serenity of some of these tiny places, and the good thing for me is, most of the time they do really good food, which saves me having to search out nice places to eat during the day, and wasting valuable exploration time.
It's also a boon, when you ride something as old, and with such poor lighting, as my Hornet, if I can get back to the place I'm staying before it gets dark, and know I'm still going to be able to have a good hot meal before I retire for the night.
I'm not going to include some of the places I've stayed in during the course of my work, as they are mostly well beyond what most people would consider within a suitable price range for a leisure trip away, but if you want somewhere that's into three figures per night, then Wroxall Abbey in Warwickshire, and Crouchers Country Hotel at Selsey, near Chichester are beautiful beyond belief.
And yes, I will 'name and shame' anywhere that doesn't come up to scratch
So, here we go..................
The Miner's Arms, Brassington.
I'm not going to post a picture (even though it's a pretty, 17th. century pub), and I'm certainly not going to give you a link to it.
Why? It's atrocious, that's why. Which is a shame, as the village itself is pretty nice.
to my disgust, there was no working lock on the door to my room. They'd apparently lost the keys. The landlady got drunk on my first night there - and I never saw her again.
Although they advertise hot meals lunchtimes and evenings, they only managed to supply me a meal on my first night. The rest of the time I mostly ate at the other pub in the village, which does excellent food, and one night I even resorted to getting a takeaway delivered from the nearest town.
To cap it all, nobody bothered to get up to attend to breakfast. I know I generally only have toast and coffee, but I was paying for B&B, and I expected at least that.
To make matters worse, I had to wait for the young girl who does the cleaning to arrive each morning so that I could get out of the damn place.
Yes, I could have let myself out and left the pub unlocked, but that's not my style - and neither is staying in a place of such poor quality!
The Old Black Dog
Bit of an exception this one, although it did used to be a pub. It's a nice B&B, run by friends Pat and Peter Dench. I've stayed here so often, I'm almost like a resident! Uplyme is such a pretty place, within easy walking distance of Lyme Regis (going down, but taxi back up the steep hill!), and equally easy to get to anywhere in Dorset, Devon and beyond. Pat's breakfasts are unequalled anywhere, but she doesn't do evening meals, so you have to be prepared to eat elsewhere. There are plenty of eating places down in Lyme Regis, or, if you're a biker, take a short run out to West Bay, where all the bikers go of an evening, and where there's a host of little food kiosks around the picturesque harbour.
Also in Dorset, but the other end of the County, is this:
The Castle Inn, West Lulworth
Now, this place is nice with a capital 'N'. It's quite expensive, but very luxurious. The pub is an old, thatched building, and the accommodation is spread between the main building and the two adjoining cottages. Food is excellent, and ambience great.
It's an easy 5 minute walk down to the glorious Lulworth Cove, and about a 15 minute drive to Tyneham - the village that time forgot.
The only drawback is the carpark, which is up a steep limestone slope and hidden in a small wood. The drop back down the slope to the road can be very tricky on a bike when it is wet. However, if you are one or two motorcycles at most, the Landlady will often allow you to park your bike up the side of the pub, by the kitchen entrance.
The Cock Inn, Blakeney
I'm a bit unsure of how to review this one. The pub is quite nice, the accommodation satisfactory, the restaurant food very good, but a bit 'cheffy' if you know what I mean.
Although it's in Gloucestershire, it's on the Welsh side of the River Severn, on the outskirts of the Forest of Dean, on the A48 about 12 miles north of Chepstow.
So, the location is good for exploring Med and South Wales, and the stunning Brecon Beacons.
BUT - and it's a big 'but'..........
None of the staff are resident overnight, and you are in effect, locked in. You think I'm joking? Well, I got up one morning and went to leave. The stairs up to the accommodation have a self-locking door at the bottom, which leads into a windowless corridor, and thence to the back door, to which you are given a key.
I went to leave one morning, went down the stairs and the door slammed behind me. To my horror, the lock in the back door wouldn't turn, and I was left in this dark, cold corridor. I couldn't see to unlock the door up to the bedrooms, and it would have been pointless anyway, as I was the only person staying there, and the window in my bedroom didn't open.
I was left in this state for nearly two hours, until the chef arrived to start the day's food preparation.
Unhappy? Extremely! A safety issue? Without a doubt!
The Angel, Larling.
This delightful pub is run by my good friend, Andrew Stammers. It lies on what used to be the A11 Thetford to Norwich road, about 2 miles from Snetterton race circuit. It stands all by itself, on a loop of the old road, with no other buildings around it.
I'll warn you now, it's not cheap! Andrew runs a 5 star B&B, where the rooms are delightful, and the food is excellent (especially the Scotch eggs!). The pub also has a large camping ground attached, with all amenities, and separate space for tents and caravans. He also hosts an annual beer festival, which I'm told is one of the best events of its' kind anywhere.
The White Horse Inn, Washford
Doesn't have its' own web-site, but the above link will take you to the Exmoor Pubs one, which has a feature on it.
OK, so, this pretty 17th. century coaching inn lies on the outskirts of Washford, on the banks of the river, just down the lane from Cleeve Abbey.
Although it sits down a narrow little lane, the location is good, being just 1/2 mile from Washford, and the main A39, and barely 5 miles from the coast, and just a few more to Exmoor National Park.
The room I stayed in, although very small, was beautifully furnished and the standard was very high.
The rooms can be reached from the bar, by a narrow, twisty staircase that can be difficult to manage if you're fully loaded down with luggage.
However, there is a separate entrance to the accommodation from the lane at the rear of the pub, and this gives easy access 24hours a day.
On the other side of the river, is a large carpark, together with a covered decking area and seating, where they hold BBQs. They also have a small farm behind the car park, with chickens, ducks, goats, ponies
The landlord and his staff are warm and friendly, and very efficient.
Food is a little above the usual 'pub grub', with a daily specials board, and prices are competetive. Every evening I was there, the eating areas were fully taken, so obviously it's a great favourite with locals as well as tourists.
Altogether, one to be used again, I think
Broom Hall Inn
This is nice. Broom Hall Inn lies just outside Bideford-on-Avon, within easy reach of Stratford-Upon-Avon, and the charming Cotswolds. The rooms are pleasant, and have been refurbished since I stayed there. Food is good, with an excellent carvery service on Sundays. This is a beautiful building, which retains its' olde-worlde charm, whilst offering a completely up to date service. Ample car parking to the front and side.
Ibis Hotel, Birmingham City Centre
Don't bother. Just Don't. OK? We thought we'd treat ourselves to something a little bit special, instead of staying in our usual Premier Inn (see below). Well, never again!
Despite its' excellent location, and smart appearance, it was terrible. The room was dirty, with a huge stain on the carpet, and mould growing in the bathroom, the staff were off-hand and disinterested, and the food was poor.
Castle Inn, Knucklas
I suppose you could describe Knucklas as Mid-Wales - well it is, if you're travelling North-South or vice versa. However, it lies within spitting distance of the English border, about 2 miles outside the pretty little town of Knighton.
I've stayed here often, as from there, I can explore any part of Wales, and Shropshire and Herefordshire, to my hearts' content.
The pub is run by a lovely lady called Chris, who hails from my neck of the woods down in Kent, and the food is beautifully supplied by Sue. Her curries on a Tuesday night are wicked! The accommodation is housed in an annexe, reached by a flight of stairs up from the pub garden. The rooms are large and well-appointed, and the whole experience is very pleasant.
A bonus for me, is that the rooms are paired, and each pair has a lobby where you can hang wet outer clothing to dry. This arrangement is also a boon for the many walkers and hikers who stay there.
The only drawbacks are lack of a mobile signal due to the surrounding hills, and the carpark. It's not only quite small, it suffers from a very poor surface, so you need to be a bit careful if you are on a motorcycle.
Now, it's all very well staying in pubs when I'm off on my travels by myself, but when my husband and I go away together, we invariably stay in Premier Inns - mostly because you know what you're getting right from the outset. We also take a few mini 'City Breaks' throughout the year, to which we usually travel by train, so Premier Inns tend to offer convenience in city centre locations.
These are just a few of the ones we've enjoyed:
Birmingham (Bridge Street, Canal Side)
The restaurant has a lovely location, right on the bank of one of the canals. Did you know that Birmingham has more miles of canals than Venice? 5 minutes walk to the city centre and New Street Station. We've had one or two issues with fire alarms going off in the middle of the night, but otherwise, it's pretty much what you would expect.
Edinburgh (Lauriston Place)
At the top of a hill behind the Castle, but a pleasant stroll down into the City Centre
Harrogate (Hornbeam Park)
This is one of my favourites. Handily located for the beautiful town of Harrogate and within easy reach of both the Yorkshire Dales and the North Yorks Moors, it lies just a few miles off the A1, so easy to get to from any part of the country. Railway station just the other side of the car park
Heathrow Airport (Bath Road)
Very new, very large - just what you would expect from one especially geared for travellers to foreign parts. I used this one in connection with my work, and I loved sitting outside at night, watching the huge aircraft coming in to land seemingly only feet away. Despite the close proximity, the hotel is well soundproofed, so there is no noise to speak of.
The good thing for me, as I was working well into the night, is that food is available 24 hours a day, with a nice Costa Coffee snack bar open all night, and room service available. Only drawback is you have to pay for the hotel car park, and then mess about claiming it back.
Obviously, this is to stop travellers dumping their cars in the hotel car park.
There is a shuttle bus service between the hotel and the airport terminals.
Liverpool (Albert Dock)
Located right next to the Beatles Experience, and overlooking Albert Dock itself. 5 minute walk into town, but you may need a taxi to get you and your luggage to Lime Street Station. Only drawbacks are no ground floor accommodation, and the car parking is in the Corporation car park opposite, and so not free.
Lovely Premier Inn, this. Just across the river from the railway station, and situated right on the river bank, within easy walking distance of both Norwich City centre, Carrow Road football ground, and the large, new entertainment quarter (where there's a superb Chinese Buffet restaurant).
We've stayed in many other Premier Inns - too many to mention, and they have all, without exception, come up to the standard we have come to expect from this large chain of 'budget'?? hotels.