3 superb boutique accommodations to enjoy in the UK

Restaurants with rooms are great, offering relative luxury, peace and quiet and top-notch food.  We have learnt recently that this is a superb way of taking a weekend break in the UK without breaking the bank but ensuring really good R&R time in very comfortable surroundings and without too many other people.  To get a good hotel in the UK countryside you often have to pay a high price and the service and experience may not quite match up to expectations.  Restaurants with rooms are a fantastic antidote to this often much more competitively priced, but with more attentive and personal service and in stunning locations (where a hotel might not fit or be allowed) with the added bonus of knowing the food is going to be good.  Don’t mistake these for pubs with rooms – there is definitely a difference!  Clever ownership has made what might once have been a local pub into something rather special. Here’s a few examples we’ve had the pleasure of enjoying.

The Drunken Duck, Ambleside, Cumbria

It has been a few years since we visited but this was one of the first occasions we enjoyed the ‘restaurant with rooms’ experience and probably from that we’ve carved out a type of UK catered accommodation that we enjoy the most.  This venue is well established and well known and isn’t the cheapest as a result. But I do think that it is money well spent in the round.  It is located very remotely and as such, apart from ducks (of which we saw many waddling around the garden and attempting to get into the buildings), there isn’t much noise – incredibly peaceful! The rooms are lovely, and all are uniquely and expensively decorated.

Drunken Duck bed

The bathroom has Arran Aromatics smellies – not something I have seen before or since, but they really are rather good. The bed was one of the most comfortable and that is necessary in a location where many visit for exhausting hill-walks!  One of the perks of staying here is afternoon tea that is included in the B&B rate – this is fantastic and exactly what is needed after a long day on the hills!  We enjoyed this on one occasion in the residents lounge (log fire, big sumptuous leather sofas and cushions) and on another in our room where we had window seats and a table.  The staff are more than happy to bring this across the courtyard to you, and similarly tea at other times wasn’t a problem and is far nicer than being left to make it yourself. Onsite there is a micro-brewery that will require investigation; however what we didn’t find is a drying room, which seems strange given the location and that many rooms are relatively small. Dining at The Drunken Duck is a real treat -it is by no means cheap (but plenty of other options in nearby Ambleside) but it is good quality and sufficiently filling after a day on the hills.  The restaurant is popular, not just with residents and so there is a great atmosphere in the bar, but it is more hushed through the dining rooms.

Drunken Duck bar

Breakfast particularly stood out – fantastic choice and the quality of juices, etc really was second to none. A gem in the Lake District. I can only imagine that it has some stiff competition a few years on from our last visit.

The Old Coastguard, Mousehole, Cornwall

Cornwall isn’t a place where I would want to see a big fancy hotel, and slowly there is a growing choice of small luxury boutique accommodation that delivers exactly what is needed.  The team at The Old Coastguard stepped in around 3 years ago and have made this somewhere rather special indeed.  They own 2 other properties – another in Cornwall and 1 in Wales and have started the ‘eat-drink-sleep’ brand that you see dotted around the site in clever ways.  We were supposed to stay at Christmas (to visit the world famous Mousehole Christmas lights) but unfortunately I was ill, so it was fantastic to be able to re-book to visit this August.  Right from booking (in fact, from enquiring) the team are friendly and helpful – emails aren’t corporate and generic, but friendly and attentive.

Old Coastguard room

We stayed in ‘The Lookout’ which is one of the highest rooms and so commands one of the best views across Mounts Bay.  The room also has a lovely terrace with bench, table and chairs and really you could sit there for hours with a book and a drink and I suspect you won’t get much reading done as the view is just too good!  Our room was exactly what we hoped it would be – comfy bed, airy, large and good quality bathroom (with White Company smellies which were very nice) and the little touches (like a collection of books, fluffy blanket to sit on the terrace under) were all very well thought through.  The Old Coastguard is a dining pub, but there is plenty of space to relax and it doesn’t feel at all bar- or pub-like; it’s very up-market but at the same time very relaxed, and well-behaved dogs are as welcome as the owners.  There are comfy sofas that all enjoy the sea view and the garden area running down towards the beach is well kept and of course it has the view too.  Mousehole is a bustling village and so it is great that The Old Coastguard has the space away from this, as well as ample parking – the main noise will come from the seagulls and the sea!  Entrance to the hotel rooms is also around the side through a ‘sleepers’ entrance which is a good touch – there is a small selection of local-fayres to purchase as well. Dining – well this was one of the main reasons for our stay.  We’d had lunch here previously (a great set menu) as well as at their Gurnards Head property over near to St Ives, and we knew we would be in for a treat.

Old Coastguard dining

The evening meal was excellent.  The wine list is interesting – some really good choices by the glass and bottle and happily not the typical options seen too often.  We both enjoyed our choices.  The food was fantastic – I follow a dairy-free diet so this always adds an extra challenge, but the kitchen were attentive and I didn’t feel like a poor relation either.  There was plenty of choice of fish, unsurprisingly given the location, and my husband had some of the best fish he’s had – it was hake and it tasted great.  The menu is full of good English options, but typically with a twist or paired slightly differently to what you might expect – a clever menu offering something a little different to normal and ever so good and appealing.  My pork was melt in the mouth.  And don’t worry – there’s no scrimping at breakfast time, the food is just as good and there is a fantastic spread of fruit, cereals, yoghurts, juices and pastries! Incredible value and attention to detail.

36 on the Quay, Emsworth, Hampshire

My husband took me here for a night in March, to celebrate my birthday.  We stayed in one of their fisherman cottages, just across the road from the main property.  36 has about 6 rooms/cottages on offer, at a number of different price points and some with stunning views over Chichester harbour.

36 On the Quay room

Our cottage was called ‘peppercorn’ and it was a ‘2 up 2 down’.  It was charming and very comfortable, very well put together.  Our room had a super-king bed that was comfy beyond belief and a second room had some small bunk beds.  Downstairs as well as a small and cosy lounge was a wet room and kitchen, opening onto a small courtyard garden.  The kitchen was great – essentially gives you the option to self-cater for aspects of our stay, although for a self-catering holiday, it would be a little on the pricey side!  The best bit about the kitchen was that we could have breakfast delivered to our cottage on the Sunday morning – it was lovely to not have to dress-up for breakfast and be able to sit in pyjamas in our cottage in the sun-drenched kitchen.

36 is well-known for its food and strangely we had never been before.  They have a set menu at supper time which really was a triumph.  We ate incredibly well. The restaurant covers the ground floor of the main property and is very much like dining in a friends house.  It is low key but very comfortable.  It was particularly nice that there was a real mix of diners – young couples and old, families and groups of friends – the set up clearly appeals to all.  What I particularly liked about the food was how well the chef coped with my request for dairy free.  It isn’t difficult, but so many places make it difficult when it needn’t be!  Right through from appetizer to dessert, I was well looked after.  The menu was great, very filling and varied without being too long.  Portion sizes were more than adequate.

36 On the Quay food

There was also a very nice wine list with plenty of choice of wines at different prices. Emsworth is also a great location for a walk around the seawall or off onto one of the nearby islands (eg. Thorney Island).  It is so near to the likes of Portsmouth and Chichester but so much more peaceful and lovely.  A really good place to weekend in! In an area full of ‘wedding venue’ locations, 36 is a breath of fresh air.

Comments (2)

  1. Emma says:

    All these places look lovely, and have been added to my list! I definitely agree on how great it is staying in these smaller places.

  2. Dear Paul n team, I have plan to stay in Italy for one month. Would you please advise whicis the nice accomodation or boutique apartment that I can use as base in Rome while travelling around? Thank you so much.

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