Here, on the old Roman road (busy now with traffic), rusticity and elegance achieve the perfect balance at this gorgeous 17th-century coaching inn run with aplomb by Dee Ludlow. Stone archways divide the bar, with its flagstone floors, open fires, beamed ceilings and a hubbub at lunchtime. Throw in real ales, roast lunches and a welcome for all and you have somewhere very special. This place prides itself on serving really good pub food: prawn cocktail, fish and chips, cottage pie, good puddings. The pub garden is one of the largest and most attractive in the Cotswolds with a two-acre lake, mature trees, and barbecues in summer. Country-smart bedrooms, decorated in Georgian style, range from smallish to spacious. There’s no separate sitting room but plenty of places to sit and read a paper. The two splendid holiday cottages in the grounds are perfect for big families: Stable Cottage sleeps four plus two children; Lakeside House sleeps 10. Walk from the pub up the river Coln valley and revel in glorious countryside.