Cosiness meets luxury in the new generation of pub hotels

Timothy Barber
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IF you’re skipping out of town for a weekend, you don’t always want the ultra-plush, waited-on-hand-and-foot trappings of a smart hotel any more than you want the chintz and limited comforts of a B&B. For cosiness, convivial hospitality and excellent nightcap options, a stay at a pub with rooms can be the answer, not least because you tend to find the best old taverns in some of the country’s most charming places.

Nowadays, though, you also find them in London. The past decade has seen a revolution in the sophistication and style on offer in pub hotels, something that’s more recently been taken up by a handful of the capital’s boozers. The team behind central London’s smart gastro hangouts the Thomas Cubitt and the Pantechnicon Room have expanded with two fine pub hotels, while Clerkenwell’s Fox & Anchor and Wandsworth’s recently relaunched the Alma show that posh hotels don’t have a monopoly on seriously luxurious staying.

The old school beauty and Dickensian atmosphere of Clerkenwell’s knotted streets are well reflected in the Fox & Anchor’s gorgeous interiors. The pub, just off Charterhouse Square, is a moody, mahogany-lined den of nooks and corners, while the handful of rooms upstairs mix a certain old-school ambience with serious comfort and luxury. The vast City Boy breakfast is sensational. Weekend rooms from £95.

THE HOSTE ARMS, Burnham Market
The pub, in the heart of Norfolk’s famously upmarket seaside town, boasts 35 stylish rooms, all suitably boutiquey with giant fluffy beds and luxury toiletries galore. The bar’s outdoor front tables make a great spot for sunny afternoon drinking. A lovely restaurant too. Rooms from £122

The Wykeham, found in the quiet streets between Winchester College and the town’s famous cathedral, has a long-established reputation as one of the finest watering holes in the south of England. A place of unabashed charm with 14 plush bedrooms. Rooms from £99

CRAB & LOBSTER, Sidlesham
This 350-year-old pub is nestled on the banks of Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve in West Sussex overlooking the water, and offers 4 plush double bedrooms along with a cute neighbouring two-bedroomed 16th century self-catering cottage. A relaxed place with a rustic pub atmosphere. Rooms from £140

Owned by music biz entrepreneur Mark Fuller and with Michelin-starred chef John Burton Race in charge in the kitchen, this takes urban glamour – crystal-encrusted door-handles, a minimalist swimming pool – to the sleepy village of Cookham Dean. Rooms from £120

Formerly the Orange Tree, one of Pimlico’s more charming pubs also has four swish bedrooms on its second floor. The pub, done up a couple of years ago by the team behind the Chelsea set’s pub to see and be seen at, the Thomas Cubitt, is now a place of stripped-back, airy cosiness, with an appealing (if pricey) gastro menu. Double room from £185

From the same team as the Orange, the Goat was refurbished at the end of last year. It sits near Portman Square, a few minutes’ walk from Marble Arch and has eight rather spacious bedrooms designed in an oak-floored, country house style. It’s a smart and stylish boozer – all pale wood and big windows – and a cosy alternative for a West End stay. Double rooms from £195

THE ALMA, Wandsworth
The Alma defies the law positing that the nearest pub to a train station should be as rough as a badger’s bum. It’s directly across the road from Wandsworth Town station, in the area’s genteel Old Town, where it has been operating as a convivial drinking den for West Londoners for many years. Late last year it got a makeover, which included the addition of 23 smart bedrooms in the former metalworks behind. Rooms from £180