Our elite, award-winning pubs with rooms

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David Hancock

5 min read

Everyone loves a good pub lunch, but sometimes you want to push the boat out. Our resident pubs expert, David Hancock, who’s been trawling taverns and investigating inns for decades, has picked out some of his favourites for elite-level dining. It’s not about getting dressed up and using the right cutlery – this is about taste, not trappings. So sit back and browse our very own specials board.

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The Red Lion at East Chisenbury, Wiltshire

Set the satnav to find this 18th-century thatched pub hidden away in rolling downland on the edge of Salisbury Plain. It will be worth it, as sleepy East Chisenbury is a gorgeous village, set in the peaceful Avon Valley south of Pewsey, and the Red Lion is so much more than a rustic rural local. Chef-owners, Guy & Brittany Manning have transformed the pub into a culinary oasis deep in the Wiltshire countryside, their dedication, focus, and hard work being rewarded with a fabulous reputation for food. 

Everything is made in-house, from the lime cordial to the ketchup, and they have a passion for sourcing the best local ingredients (or growing/rearing their own), which dictate the ever-changing daily menus, which are sensibly short with dishes simply described – wild halibut, salty fingers, chive, Marie rose sauce; Wiltshire chateaubriand, Jerusalem artichokes, chanterelles, red wine; vanilla rice pudding, poached Yorkshire rhubarb, rhubarb sorbet. 

Converting a run-down riverside bungalow into five stunning rooms was the icing on the cake. Arrive after dark on a winter’s night and you will be treated to a quintessentially English scene when you pull back the curtains in the morning – a gorgeous view of the crystal-clear infant River Avon and water meadows leading to thatched cottages. Brittany’s freshly made bread and pastries are not to be missed at breakfast, a delicious start to the day. 

In a Nutshell: 

  • Thatched village gem in deepest Wiltshire 
  • Proper pub – relaxed and welcoming 
  • Culinary oasis – Michelin starred food 
  • Chef-owners – passion for local food 
  • Simple, rustic dishes, precisely cooked 
  • Stunning rooms in riverside setting – special 

Stay at The Red Lion at East Chisenbury >

The Killingworth Castle, Wootton, Oxfordshire

Fuelled with boundless energy and passion (and a Midas touch), Claire & Jim Alexander transformed the forlorn 17th-century Killingworth Castle into a thriving community local and a fabulous pub with rooms, just outside Woodstock. 

A decade on, passion undimmed, they continue to raise their game, drawing foodies from afar for chef Adam Brown’s inventive menus and sublime cooking. Local, seasonal, and organic ingredients are at the heart of his dishes, his carte and tasting menus (vegetarian option too) brim with Cotswold goodies – chalk stream trout, beetroot, buttermilk, lovage; salt-aged duck breast, red chicory, rhubarb, port sauce; banana souffle, stem ginger ice cream, toffee sauce. The set lunch menu is a steal. 

The look and feel of the place are simple, rustic, and unpretentious, with acres of wood floors, flickering candles on old pine tables, and blazing wood-burning stoves in cosy, rambling dining rooms. Equally comfortable are the eight rooms in the converted stable, perfect for resting your head having delved too deeply into the excellent wine list over dinner.   

In a Nutshell 

  • Community focused dining pub with rooms 
  • Hands-on owners; passion & enthusiasm 
  • Innovative cooking; big flavours, top ingredients 
  • Rustic-smart interior 
  • Rooms offer style and comfort 

Stay at The Killingworth Castle >

Angel Inn, Stoke-By-Nayland, Suffolk

Soft lamplight glows invitingly in the windows of this beautifully restored 16th-century inn deep in Constable country. Expect to be wowed – rare and valuable artwork adorns the walls, there’s a glass-topped well in the raftered restaurant and a lush, landscaped patio garden. Beams, wall timbers and heritage hues add warmth, charm, and character to gorgeous bedrooms named after Suffolk artists, paintings, rivers, or places. 

The food is seriously good – modern British cooking with Spanish influences, a heady mix of quality ingredients from Suffolk and further afield, resulting in imaginative, big-flavoured dishes from Rueben Aguilar Bel, a talented chef who hails from Spain. 

Both the carte and the short/long tasting menus may reveal roasted vegetable, Manchego cheese foam, tomato crumble for starters, followed by charcoal grilled wild bream (Cornish) loin, ceps casserole, beluga lentils, ratte potatoes and smoked paprika, and dark chocolate cremeaux, banana bread, nutmeg sorbet, and lime for dessert. Worth the short detour off the A12. 

In a Nutshell 

  • Money lavished on restoring fabric of building 
  • Rare, valuable artwork adorn walls; special… 
  • Talented Spanish chef; farm-to-table approach 
  • Smart, individually designed rooms; wow factor

Stay at Angel Inn, Stoke-by-Nayland >

The Feathered Nest Country Inn, Nether Westcote, Oxfordshire 

A fine-looking Cotswold-stone inn perfectly positioned to make the most of the stunning views over the Evenlode valley. 

Foodies flock to sleepy Nether Westcote for Renemar Pinedo’s bold, yet unpretentious cooking, skills honed at the two-Michelin-starred Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, and he brings inspiration from his Caribbean routes to his menus, with a passion for fresh seafood and open grill cooking. Traditional Sunday lunches and classic English afternoon teas complete the culinary picture. 

Whether you’re here for a quick pint, a light lunch, or a weekend stopover – book one of stylish rooms above the inn with valley views or the cosy cottage for two – incredibly helpful, knowledgeable staff will pamper you from start to finish. If you fancy a walk, the four-mile downhill hike to Bledington is truly special. 

In a Nutshell 

  • A classy Cotswold inn in sleepy village 
  • Luxurious and uncompromising interiors  
  • Outstanding food with prices to match 
  • Award-winning wine list 
  • Superbly tended grounds – glorious views 
  • Big bedrooms and a cosy cottage for two 

Stay at The Feathered Nest Country Inn >

Browse all our pubs with rooms >

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David Hancock

David Hancock is our Sawday's pubs expert, who has been discovering special pubs for decades - and he always knows where to find the best Sunday roast.
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