Scott Smyth April 28 2023

The Great British pub has come a long way.

Although you will still find traditional ‘boozers’ throughout the country, a new wave has emerged serving exceptional food in wonderfully laid-back surroundings.

Some also offer accommodation, allowing you to slip away to a comfortable room – post-nightcap – in a state of blissful contentment.

Sounds good? Then read on to discover our top picks for the best pubs with rooms in the UK.


Ship Inn, Elie, Fife

The charming East Neuk of Fife was once a well-kept secret, with only a handful of in-the-know visitors privy to its glorious coastline and tasty food. Recently it has been cast into the spotlight following a starring role in The Hairy Bikers Go Local.

And if you’re looking to explore this delightful corner of eastern Scotland, there are few better bases than the Ship Inn. The view of Elie’s sandy beach from the beer garden must be one of the finest in the country.

If the weather doesn’t permit al fresco dining, the cosy bar inside is the perfect spot to ‘coorie up’ with a local ale or malt whisky.


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The Gurnard’s Head, Zennor, Cornwall

The legendary Gurnard’s Head is a haven of tranquillity on Cornwall’s wild and windswept Atlantic coast. The author D.H. Lawrence lived nearby and described the area as being “the most beautiful place, lovelier even than the Mediterranean”.

After a day of walking the South West Coast Path or exploring nearby St Ives, the bright yellow exterior of the Gurnard’s Head is a welcome sight. The food is delicious and locally sourced, and the bedrooms feature local art and incredibly comfy beds.


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The Felin Fach Griffin, Brecon, Powys

Sitting proudly amidst the picturesque landscapes of Bannau Brycheiniog (the Brecon Beacons), this chic country inn is the ideal retreat for hikers and nature enthusiasts seeking a touch of luxury after a day in the hills.

The acclaimed kitchen serves up inventive dishes that showcase local produce, from succulent Welsh lamb to artisanal cheeses. The Felin Fach Griffin is also a proper pub, with all that implies, serving up local ales and Monmouthshire cider.


The Taybank, Dunkeld, Perthshire

With a magical location on the bonnie banks of the River Tay, the eclectic Taybank is home to Perthshire‘s largest beer garden, an elegant restaurant, and five beautifully decorated bedrooms with a distinct Scandinavian influence.

The buzzy bar hosts midweek trad folk and bluegrass sessions drawing musicians from across the country and offers real-ale and rotating guest beers.


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Black Bull, Sedbergh, Cumbria

While you may not have heard of Sedbergh, you really should have. This little market town is a hidden gem, nestling in the Howgill Fells between two national parks; the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales.

The 17th-century Black Bull sits on the characterful Main Street flanked by bookshops (Sedbergh is England’s ‘Book Town’).

The food is elevated beyond typical pub fare, with subtle Asian influences reflecting co-owner Nina’s Japanese background. The lovely bedrooms are a mix of rustic style with a hint of Japanese Zen.


Applecross Inn, Applecross Peninsula, Scottish Highlands

Sitting at the end of a remote peninsula along the legendary North Coast 500 driving route, this modest, whitewashed inn is known for its warm Scottish hospitality and world-class seafood. The views from here are quite simply sensational – stretching across to the Isle of Skye, Knoydart and the Small Isles.

This popular spot has won a multitude of food and drink awards and serves local craft beers (including Applecross Brewing Co.) and excellent food focused on local seafood. Don’t miss the langoustines!


The Blue Ball Inn, Grantchester, Cambridgeshire

Retaining its original two-bar layout and a host of charming old fittings, this wonderful pub sits at the heart of its community. With no TV or games machines, the focus here is on good beer, friendly conversation, and classic pub games.

The pub overlooks Grantchester Meadows on the outskirts of historic Cambridge, with the kitchen serving up satisfying home-cooked fare. In the back you’ll find a delightful small walled garden, a piano, and a collection of cricket memorabilia. A true English treasure.


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Inn at Loch Tummel, Strathtummel, Perthshire

A short hop from one of Scotland’s most famous beauty spots – Queen’s View – this quirky old inn is a superb base to explore Perthshire’s big tree country. Hands-on owners Jade and Alice Calliva rescued the building from disrepair and have worked their magic to create a special atmosphere, blending contemporary style with traditional Highland charm.

The restaurant serves appealing and unpretentious dishes such as herb-crusted cod. The bedrooms are a delight, featuring woollen throws, local artwork, and decanters of whisky.


Lord Crewe Arms, Blanchland, Northumberland

Nestled in a rural corner of Northumberland, the Lord Crewe Arms exudes atmosphere around every corner. Originally the abbot’s lodging from a 12th-century priory, the inn is located in the pretty village of Blanchland which was built with stone from the abbey’s ruins.

Inside you’ll find ancient flagstones, inglenook fireplaces, and tasteful country decor. The space somehow feels both spacious and cosy, with unexpected flights of stairs leading to dining areas and quirky nooks to explore.

The atmospheric bar is housed in a vaulted crypt and serves a range of local ales, including the in-house Crewe Brew.


Cartford Inn, Little Eccleston, Lancashire

Unless you’re looking for a lively evening in a glitzy seaside town, it’s easy to bypass Lancashire’s Fylde peninsula as you head north or south on the M6. However, in doing so, you’ll be passing up on one of England’s most exceptional inns. The Cartford Inn would be the talk of the town if it was just north in the popular Lake District.

This 17th-century coaching inn sits in tranquil countryside by the meandering River Wyre, and the bright lights of nearby Blackpool feel a world away. The kitchen serves up modern British-French food, reflecting the owners’ respective Lancastrian and French backgrounds.

For a truly memorable experience, book one of the two luxury treehouse-style cabins. They both have heated balconies overlooking the river and Sonos sound systems.


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Hand & Flowers, Marlow, Buckinghamshire

A blog about Britain’s best pubs wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the only pub in the country with two Michelin stars. You’ll find the Hand & Flowers in the pretty riverside town of Marlow in Buckinghamshire – right on the Thames Path.

With celebrity chef Tom Kerridge at the helm, the restaurant serves pub-style dishes elevated just enough without sacrificing their rustic charm. The phenomenal food and the cosy cottage-like atmosphere make for an unforgettable overnight stay.


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Fancy a pint?

From remote countryside inns to buzzing city centre establishments, British pubs are a testament to the country’s rich cultural heritage and offer a glimpse into its history and traditions.

Absolute Escapes self-drive holidays are carefully designed to showcase the best that the UK has to offer. Our expert team of Travel Specialists can create a bespoke tailor-made itinerary built around you, so if you’d like to stay in Britain’s best inns for a night or two, just let us know when you get in touch.

We’ve been planning road trips for almost two decades and are proud of our reputation for exceptional customer service and meticulous attention to detail. Don’t just take our word for it – we were recently named AITO’s Tour Operator of the Year, beating 100 of Britain’s best small travel companies to win gold.

Scott Smyth

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