Adrian Mourby

Back to Inspirations
Surprisingly the term “a pub with rooms” only dates back to 1979 when The Daily Mail made reference to this very British phenomenon in an article about UK staycations.  Until then pubs always had a bar and maybe a lounge, but any rooms upstairs were hardly destination accommodation. Such bedrooms might prove a necessity – much like a boarding house – if there were not an hotel or convenient relative nearby.

How our values have changed!  A few years ago I stayed at a Suffolk pub with rooms where the landlord was very proud to show me where Prince William and his future wife (now Princess of Wales) had slept a few months prior to a friend’s wedding.

These days a pub with rooms can be a dip into the long history of British hospitality, a phenomenon that dates back to the Romans who set up hostelries running north and south along chilly Britannia. Here messengers would get a change of horses. They could also find a good meal and take a communal bath before heading ever onwards. Thereafter the British coaching inn took over the role and featured frequently in fiction. For Chaucer, Shakespeare, Henry Fielding, Jane Austen and Dickens the inn was a place where all manner of people were thrown together unexpectedly as fellow travellers.

These days they serve the pub with rooms serves the same purpose, albeit in a world of duvets, en-suite bathrooms and coffee-making facilities.
Here are just ten excellent British pubs with rooms you might enjoy this autumn.   

At first glance the Rose and Crown looks like an unremarkable pair of white-painted Georgian terraced townhouses facing onto Warwick’s market square. But a joyous host of red chairs and red umbrellas line the broad pavement outside the pub. Up to 80 guests can be served here and, thanks to blankets and conveniently placed heaters, that number hardly decreases come the autumn.

A modern mural of a long rose reaching up to a crown is visible on the side of the pub and in front of it is a statue of Randolph Turpin, a local boy who was crowned boxing’s world middleweight champion in 1951.

Inside there are five bedrooms on the first and second floors of the pub. Those at the front, facing onto the market square, get the joy of late-night farewells being shouted from below and the sound of bottles being put out for collection first thing in the morning!

This is very much a locals’ pub. Many residents of Warwick turn up early for breakfast and a chat. The menu prides itself on its quality British ingredients – Aubrey Allen grass-fed British beef, Portwood Asparagus from Norfolk, hand-picked crab from Colchester, Isle of Wight tomatoes and Cornish lamb. Chase Distillery provides the gin and vodkas, and Nyetimber in West Sussex the sparkling wine.

The white-painted dining room is full of black and white portraits from the 1960s by David Bailey: Terence Stamp, Michael Caine, Jean Shrimpton, Mick Jagger (in a parka) and John Lennon (with Paul McCartney looking at him suspiciously).

Behind the dining room lies a serious drinking room called The Yard (literally the pub’s old yard, now roofed over) and beyond that the Woodshed, a private dining room that can seat 12 to 16 people.

The Rose and Crown is run by Peach Pubs who own 21 inns across the Midlands. They rely on an amiable and chatty team. 

This is a great place to stay if you are visiting Warwick Castle (one of the best-preserved in England) or even the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford upon Avon. The town itself is also a beauty spot with two medieval gatehouses, each topped with a church and some attractive independent shops. 

Kirby Muxloe is one of the more unusual place names in England. It is thought to have come from a Dane (called Caeri), who held the land after the Norman Conquest, and the Muxloe family who owned it later. (It was not uncommon to rename villages after the new owners post-Conquest so that the nearby settlement of Ashby became Ashby de la Zouch after the family of La Zouche.) 

Just behind the village’s ancient inn lies a splendid brick castle that was begun in 1480 by Lord Hastings (1430-83); a favourite of King Edward IV. Brick was a status symbol in the late fifteenth century but unfortunately Lord Hastings was executed by Edward’s brother, Richard III before the castle could be completed.

The inn we see today was originally a farmhouse that faced Kirby Muxloe Castle ( From your bedroom you can still just about make out the occasional flurry of red bricks through the trees when the wind blows. The castle is well worth visiting. It’s still an impressive sight with a complete, square moat and gatehouse. It’s £9.50 to enter, but free to walk round the outside of the moat.  The castle is also a home for dozens of canada geese that you will hear honking in the early morning.

Castle Inn is part of the Chef & Brewer chain and has been beautifully refurbished of late. There is a grey/dark-blue palette that runs throughout. Not surprisingly the walls are decorated with black and white photographs of old castles in the Midlands including (of course) Kirby Muxloe.

The dinner menu is excellent, with plenty of choices for vegetarians, pescatarians and omnivores. The atmosphere for dining is cosier in the bar than the open-plan dining area, especially in autumn and winter as there are three fireplaces, each with a log-burning stove.

The bar (at the front of the pub) is very much a place for locals -who were very concerned that not too much was changed in the recent refurb – but you will certainly be welcomed by the villagers.

This ancient stone pub sits in the village of Cumnor high on a hill to the southwest of Oxford. Although it has only nine rooms it’s a popular place to stay among visitors to Oxford. This famous university city is one of the most expensive places to park a car in Britain so much better to use the Bear’s extensive car park and take the No 9 bus into Oxford, a journey of about 15 minutes. 

The Bear & Ragged Staff derives its name from the coat of arms of the Earls of Warwick which has at its centre a bear chained to a wooden post. 

The inn dates back to Elizabethan times and has a lovely historic core with two old stone fireplaces, flagstone floors, mullioned windows, and carved lintels. If you enter from the road (rather than the car park) it’s like entering a film set for some historic BBC romp.

You can eat well here in the bar although most as diners choose to the new open plan dining room to the rear of the pub.

Personally I think there is nothing lovelier in winter to eat in the warm bar with its two log-burning stoves. For the rest of the year however the restaurant with its orange banquettes and some convincingly “historic” modern wood beams is popular.

There four ensuite bedrooms in outhouses next to the pub and five above the bar. If you are looking for character – and don’t mind bumping your head occasionally - go for rooms 5-9 up a steep staircase from reception. They are cozy and irregular with mullioned windows, warm duvets and sloping ceilings.
Food at the Bear & Ragged Staff is always excellent. This is a Peach Pub and proud of both its wine list and its seasonally changing menu. If Oxfordshire venison is on the menu then go for it.

The wine list is impressively broad and includes some specialities in its “Undiscovered” section plus a nice selection of nightcaps called “One Last Glass”. This consists of whiskeys, brandies, rum and tequila, all of them ideal before you slowly toddle upstairs.

Breakfast includes American pancakes, eggs benedict, smashed avocado and bacon rolls from Jimmy Butler’s famous free-range pork.  Everything served by an enthusiastic staff.  Working at The Bear obviously brings out the best in the youngsters who run this pub.

Halfway between Truro and Newquay, in the rural village of Mitchell, there stands an old coaching inn. It has a formal frontage with a white, neo-classical portico that has been attached to a much older building.  The Plume of Feathers' age is unclear, but it’s well (that used to supply the whole village once upon a time) is known to be 450 years old. Today it still fills the carafes of water on your table.

Twenty years ago, the pub was bought at auction by Crowndell Consulting Ltd, the company that owns Lewinnick Lodge on Cornwall’s North Atlantic coast. Since then, The Plume has steadily built further accommodation up the hill behind it. With a growing reputation for its food, the pub eventually added 20 rooms in what has become known informally as its ‘village’. This series of buildings, accessed through a vine-clad arch resembles restored barns and agricultural buildings. One is even called The Hen House. But all are clever newbuilds.

Some have full-length French windows and views, others are cosy with small windows and no views, as would be the case in genuine old farming buildings. All have very modern bathrooms, comfortable sofas and desks.

The real joy of The Plume of Feathers, however, is its food which is supervised by Head Chef Andrew Dudley.

Dining is both in the oldest part of the pub or in its new, dining room, built as a conservatory but now roofed over (the trend for conservatory dining is going the way of the Ploughman’s Lunch, Scampi in the Basket and Babycham). 

All the old pub rooms have been knocked together, making a free-flowing dining area that surrounds most sides of the bar. It's a common way of maximising space these days, but the low ceiling beams are authentically old as indeed is that water well which is to be found just behind reception. Do ask to be shown it. There’s a glass cover so no danger of anyone falling in!

Breakfast at The Plume of Feathers has no truck with the ‘All You Can Eat- but probably shouldn’t’ buffet. Every dish is chosen from the menu which has a succinct range of well-prepared dishes. Food remains the number one priority at The Plume of Feathers. It’s a pub with well-fed rooms.

Rebecca and Henry who run the Castle Inn at Bishops’ Castle will probably tell you that the apostrophe comes after the “S” because many bishops (not just one) were responsible for the impressive castle that was built here on the Welsh borders. 

Sadly the castle itself is no more and this rather imposing eighteenth-century inn was built within the outer bailey of that huge castle. In mediaeval times Wales was a wild border land, known as The Marches. It was full of Celtic tribes who had lost territory to William the Conqueror and his heirs and were not at all happy about it. Hence the need for castles along the Norman/Welsh border. 

But by the beginning of the eighteenth century the mighty fortress of the bishops had served its purpose. The Welsh were no longer rebelling against their overlords. The castle was demolished and a crown (domed) bowling green was created in what was once its keep for the benefit of the gentlemen of Bishops’ Castle. 

The actual stones of the castle were brought downhill to build this imposing inn. James Brydges, a local landowner, constructed it in 1719, the same year that he was created Duke of Chandos by King George I. Though peaceful, Bishops’ Castle was still a bit of a cowboy town at this time. It returned two MPs to parliament despite having only a few hundred constituents, making it one of the most rotten of “rotten boroughs”.

The duke’s son (Henry, 2nd Duke of Chandos) famously bought a servant’s wife off him at the hotel. While dining at The Castle Inn he heard a woman being auctioned off by her husband (a wholly legal phenomenon in the eighteenth century) and he placed the winning bid. Another eccentric regular was “Mad” Jack Mytton (1796-1834), a wealthy Shropshire MP who bought his seat in Parliament by bunging each voter £10. As a young man Jack took 2,000 bottles of port with him when he went up to Cambridge to aid his studies. He also once rode his horse through the hotel. And on another occasion set fire to his nightshirt to try and cure himself of the hiccups. Remarkably he survived.

For over three centuries The Castle Inn has towered over the town of Bishops’ Castle. The original oak-panelled parlour is now the hotel’s rather splendid dining room where breakfast and dinner are served. You can also eat in what is now called the Parlour Bar which is less formal. Guests also have their own terrace or patio at first floor level. There are thirteen rooms and suites upstairs, all of them dog-friendly. The hotel is popular with walkers, lying as it does on a number of national British trails. Every morning at breakfast there will be a bulletin about the weather and things to do with your time in Bishops’ Castle propped up on your table. This will include a “Walk of The Day”. 

One curious feature of the Castle Inn – as well of Bishops’ Castle itself – is the preponderance of elephant imagery. The coat of arms of Robert Clive of India, one-time owner of the inn is in Market Square, and includes an Indian elephant. Coincidentally, the hotel’s Elephant Gatehouse, a self-catering suite, has a friendly elephant mural painted on its exterior, not because of Clive but because this was one of the many stables in which evacuated circus elephants were housed during World War II. Yes, really.

The rest of the hotel’s stables have now been demolished to create a car park but this gatehouse is a memorial to those unexpected pachyderms in the 1940s. Indeed if you walk around the town there are many more elephant murals, an artwork trail known collectively as The March of the Elephants.

Just ten minutes away from the site of the Battle of Bosworth Visitor Centre ( stands an old Victorian bakery that has been turned into a Greene King pub known as Millers. Bread was actually baked on this spot in Victorian times, with the old black-leaded ovens, cast in nearby Leicester, still embedded into the wall near reception.

In such peaceful countryside it’s strange to imagine soldiers loyal to Richard III fleeing from his defeat - past this very spot in 1485.  The battle left over 1,000 dead among them King Richard, the last English king killed in battle. It also changed the course of English history more than any armed conflict since The Battle of Hastings. Without Bosworth there would have been no Henry VII, no Henry VIII - no Tudors at all and very little political stability.

Today Millers has an extensive bar-cum-dining room which features a large waterwheel. Originally a stream did run through the site but when the mill race dried up, an electric wheel was installed to replicate it. The menu is full of pub classics like fish and chips, scampi and steak. There is also a traditional prawn cocktail on offer for starters.

There are 38 bedrooms, functional, comfortable and ideally adapted for guests touring Leicestershire. Ashby de la Zouch Castle is 11 miles away, Bosworth Field Visitor Centre four miles away and Kirby Muxloe Castle nine miles beyond that.

Both castles were the property of Lord Hastings whom wicked Richard III had executed in 1483. A visit to Millers in Stibson is therefore a great opportunity to dine and sleep well while getting in touch with the dramatic history of Leicestershire.

Dean’s Place stands on the eastern edge of the village of Alfriston in Sussex.  From the car park it looks like a pub with one or two rooms above the bar but there is much that is hidden from view. The original building you’re looking at is probably seventeenth century. 

As a private residence it had many owners over the centuries, the last of whom was Sir Herbert Alexander Lawrence (1861-1943), the son of a Viceroy of India. In 1892 Lawrence married Isabel, daughter of 1st Baron Hillingdon. The couple commissioned a famous historicist and architect, Walter Godfrey to conduct a lengthy restoration of their cozy house, which was completed in 1923. The Lawrences lived intermittently at Dean's Place until 1935 when the house was sold and converted into a residential inn.  

Over the last eighty years Dean’s Place has been extended in ways that probably would have shocked the purist Walter Godfrey but it retains the appearance of an old rectory – or pub - from the road. It’s only when you get inside you realise it extends back towards the River Cuckmere via 35 bedrooms.

These days this pub-with-rooms is run by Lucinda and James Dopson with their teenage son helping out with the breakfasts. Lucinda comes from a long line of hoteliers. For James this is his first experience running a pub but he received good training at Great Fosters Hotel near Heathrow before his wife’s family bought Dean’s Place in 2009.

Bedrooms are painted in a favourite Farrow and Ball colour of Lucinda’s known as Railings. It’s a deep blue grey and works well with the William Morris wallpaper that is also omnipresent. The house fizz is Rathfinny, from a superb Sussex vineyard that lies just two miles away within the South Downs National Park. As Lucinda puts it “The fame of the Rathfinny estate and our national park status have been a huge boost for us, for Alfriston and the local area."

So who was Dean and why was this his Place? Surprisingly, no one seems to know.

At the bottom of a very narrow road that winds through Portloe you come to The Lugger. This seafaring inn (named after the typical single-sailed Cornish fishing boat) takes up much of this narrow south coastal port.

Its accommodation consists of five bedrooms above the old, white-washed inn, plus twelve in a row of houses behind the pub, four in the old school house and others in various cottages nearby. In fact it’s fair to say that most of Portloe is The Lugger.

Today it is delightful to sit on the Lugger’s small terrace and watch local fishermen unload their catch. Their buoys (marking the position of lobster pots in the bay) are visible from the hotel. In the evening you can dine on fresh sea produce which is delivered daily, drink in the small bar below or sit in the residents’ lounge with its big open fire and a scattering of books and board games.  No two bedrooms are the same at the Lugger. Some have their own terraces, a few have sea views. Room 301 is perhaps the best with its view directly into the tiny harbour and the sea beyond.

The Old Ship Inn in Hackney predates the famous nearby Hackney Empire Theatre by more than half of the nineteenth century. This pub with rooms has a genuine East End feel to it. There’s a bar for drinking, a few tables for eating and some bedrooms up the stairs. Oh, and quite a lot of distressed brick.

Standing only two doors down from London’s famous Hackney Empire, the inn is accessed down an old tiled passageway that's been decorated with cheery murals, making it less daunting on a dark evening. Inside the welcome is warm and the pub food is excellent.

Bedrooms are up a steep staircase and on either side of a winding corridor. The upstairs layout probably hasn't changed since the 1800s. Bedrooms are compact and mostly understated (apart from the one with an entire wall given over to a black and white photo of a donkey being given a pint of beer to sup - well, why not?). 

Breakfast in the open-plan bar is hearty amid cheerfully distressed décor. Guests sit on old school chairs marvelling at the list of beers etched in white chalk on the walls. It’s a perfect place to recover from the raucous night before.

If “pubs with rooms” are a recent British phenomenon, what about a vineyard with rooms? That’s what you have at Denbies.

In 1984 a local businessman, Adrian White bought this Surrey estate to make himself a home. Unsure what to do with all the land, White asked a friend, the geologist Professor Richard Selley to survey the site. Selley, who normally advised on drilling for oil, worked out that its chalk soil and well-protected location were ideal for wine production. 

Rethinking his plans, White arranged for 13 varieties of grape planted as an experiment in 1986 to see which would take. Twenty-four years later, in 2010 Denbies medium dry Surrey Gold became the best-selling English white wine. 

Currently more than 10% of all vines planted in England are on this estate and throughout Denbies’ 265 acres of vines there run seven miles of footpaths.

The old farmhouse on the estate has been converted into a modern hotel just behind the winery, and on a fresh Surrey morning it’s delightful to get up early and climb up through the mist to the top of the estate via Bradley Lane. The hotel provides a map so as you head up the lane you’ll know you have Bacchus and Muller Thurgau grapes on your left and Reichensteiner on your right. You’ll probably encounter plenty of locals walking their dogs in the early morning as the estate is always open to the public.

Near the top of the hill a path runs to the left through Pinot Gris vines to a big old oak tree surrounded by decking. Known as The Terrace, this is where tastings are held during the summer months. On a brisk, bright morning it’s a great place to stop and admire the view south over England’s biggest vineyard.

The Denbies estate resembles a prelapsarian world where the landscape glows green with grape vines and locals wander through with their dogs or go jogging or visit the Farm Shop or the Surrey Hills Physiotherapy Health and Wellbeing Centre.
This truly is a great hotel for wine-lovers. Or maybe a wine-bar with rooms….

This website uses cookies. Click here to read our Privacy Policy.
If that’s okay with you, just keep browsing. CLOSE