The Red Lion, Babcary, Somerset A charismatic thatched pub with contemporary smart rooms tucked away in a sleepy village, yet just two miles from the A303, so the perfect stopover on the trek west. It’s a top choice to rest and refuel for regional ales and local ciders, real food and a small farm shop, flagstone floors and real fires in rambling rooms, and a chic little converted barn that serves pizzas from a wood-fired oven.
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The Pheasant Inn, Shefford Woodlands, Berkshire
Shun the budget hotels at the M4 services in favour of this iconic racing pub in the Lambourn Valley – just two minutes from Junction 14 – it’s the best pit stop for miles. Spruced up with panache and style, it’s a haven for good modern British cooking, rustic-chic charm in the informal bar, and super-cosy rooms. Stay overnight and get ahead of the holiday traffic out of town – 1.5hrs from London.
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The Packhorse, Moulton, Suffolk
A cool country inn overlooking the village green just two miles off the A14 near Newmarket and well worth the short diversion for innovative menus, stylish interiors and a buzzy bar – the Packhorse is very much a smart gastropub with polished floorboards and Farrow & Ball hues, but the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. If you’re looking for a very comfortable stopover then the choice of eight stunningly chic rooms will not disappoint.
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The Bull & Swan, Stamford, Lincolnshire
Drop down off the A1 to locate the handsome Bull & Swan, Georgian Stamford’s perfect hideaway from the hustle and bustle of the Great North Road. It’s a super-cosy 17th-century inn with log fires, interesting and stylish bedrooms, a menu to please all and a cracking courtyard garden with a Pizza Potting Shed – great for the kids. If you have time, the high street shops, antique centres and the grounds of Burghley House are just a stroll away.
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The Roebuck, Mobberley, Cheshire
Expect the unexpected at this spruced up village inn within easy reach of Alderley Edge, Manchester and the M6 – J19 is just 3 miles away. Revamped in quirky rustic French style, it offers an authentic café/bistro feel, a cool, relaxed vibe, a great drinks menu, exciting Mediterranean food, a gorgeous terraced garden, and six very special rooms – they ooze the WOW factor…!
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Shibden Mill Inn, Halifax, West Yorkshire
A renovated 17th-century corn mill hidden in the folds of the wooded Shibden Valley, overlooking the babbling Red Beck – a truly peaceful spot just minutes from the hustle and bustle of Halifax and an short drive from the M62 (J24 & J26). Expect to find a fabulous terrace of summer alfresco sipping, exciting food from a gifted young chef, a very cosy room, and the breakfast, one of the best, will set you up for day’s journey ahead.
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