This weekend marks the end of British Summer Time and while this may give us an extra boost of energy in the mornings, many of us see the nights drawing in as the onset of winter. Instead of feeling down, why not embrace the changing seasons, snuggle up in your favourite jumper, and use it as the perfect excuse to make a beeline for one of your welcoming local pubs or restaurants?
Here are some of our favourite places to cosy up in:
Sienna is one of the country’s smallest restaurants and this, along with friendly service from the team, gives it very intimate feel. The keen young owner works alone in the kitchen, crafting creative, modern dishes which feature on a range of good value set menus. The concise descriptions belie the intricacy of the dishes, which have complex texture and flavour combinations.
You can’t help but enjoy yourself at the Pot Kiln. A homely, characterful little country pub owned by the Yattendon Estate, it was once part of the old brickworks and originally provided refreshment for the workers digging up clay from the surrounding fields. Flavoursome British dishes arrive in gutsy portions, with game and other produce foraged from the 9,000 acre estate a speciality. The West Berkshire Brewery started up in its grounds, where you’ll also find bedrooms, set beside the kitchen garden.
Situated in a small hillside hamlet, the 18th century Rat Inn is the perfect country escape with its traditional interior comprising wooden beams and an open range, and a multi-level garden boasting arbours and Tyne Valley views. The experienced owners know exactly what the locals want, so cooking is rustic and hearty; if you’re out with the whole family, the Northumberland rib of beef ‘for two or more’ is a must.
With its 16th century origins, the Bell Inn’s rustic charm is hard to resist, and its stone floors, exposed beams and an impressive inglenook fireplace make it look like something straight out of a Country Living magazine. The good value menu is a roll-call of well-executed pubby classics which follow the seasons and the flat breads and pizzas are cooked in their wood-burning oven. Bedrooms are furnished to a high standard.
Thorpe Market, Norfolk
Much of the 1,000 acre Gunton Estate has been lovingly restored over the last few decades, including the early 18th century deer park, several ruined buildings and the charming Gunton Arms pub. Enjoy a tasty homemade snack over a game of pool or darts in the bar or make for a gnarled wood table by the fireplace in the flag-floored Elk Room. Dishes are fiercely seasonal and some – such as the Aberdeen Angus steaks – are cooked over the fire. Well-equipped bedrooms have a stylish country house feel.
A hit with the locals, 5 North Street is a well-established neighbourhood restaurant run by a passionate husband and wife team. It’s set within a characterful old building at the centre of a charming Cotswold town and while it may be small inside, it’s certainly big on character. Concise menus feature regional ingredients in tried-and-tested combinations, with the simpler dishes often being the best.
West Hoathley, West Sussex
The Cat Inn sits in an idyllic village and is every bit a welcoming village pub. There are beamed ceilings, pewter tankards, open fires and plenty of corners to cosy up in, and you’ll find locals and their dogs relaxing by the inglenook fireplace with a pint. Carefully executed, good value cooking focuses on tasty pub classics, which are delivered to the table by a friendly team. Four tastefully decorated bedrooms complete the picture.
Not just a cosy place but one with a heartwarming story, The Rothesay Rooms is the result of a project between local community groups and HRH Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, in order to rejuvenate the village following disastrous floods. With its green walls, vibrant Duke of Rothesay tartan and antique furnishings, it has the look of a Baronial dining room. Dine by candlelight from a menu of classically executed, seasonally inspired dishes.
The remote west coast of Scotland is home to this rather special hotel and restaurant; a 17th century coaching inn with welcoming bedrooms and breathtaking views over Loch Glendhu and the surrounding mountains. Wrap yourself up and go for a hike, then kick-back in the warm, laid-back Kylesku restaurant. All of the produce is local and the fresh seafood is a choice, with sweet langoustines and rope-grown mussels landed just 200 yards away.
A friendly team welcome you to The Roost; a sweet, laid-back little place set in a converted stone hen house in the heart of the village. Classical cooking has modern overtones and focuses on ingredients’ natural flavours; produce is carefully sourced and some is from their own kitchen garden. The wood-burning oven is at the heart of what they do, with meat and fish dishes chalked up on the blackboard.