Back in the 18th century, Samuel Johnson said: ‘There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced, as by a good tavern or inn.’
During the dark days of lockdown, many a regular has looked wistfully in the direction of the locked doors and wondered when the gates to the citadel of fine ales and wine (and pork scratchings) would open once again.
Well, that day, in England, is upon us — with social distancing rules, table service and no barflies please.
A map showing some of the best pubs with rooms in the UK. All are in lovely locations and cost no more than £200 a night
It already happened, yesterday, in Northern Ireland. Scotland is next on July 15. Though uncertainty clouds the situation in Wales.
Pubs in England are also allowed to accept overnight guests as of today.
So here we have selected some of the best pubs with rooms and chosen a few in Scotland and Wales ahead of rule changes.
All are in lovely locations and cost no more than £200 a night.
1. NICE NORFOLK
The White Horse in Brancaster, pictured, overlooks the North Norfolk coastline. It reopens today
NEW GUIDELINES FOR PUBS RE-OPENING
Groups can be made up of two households indoors, and either up to two households or six people from more than two households outdoors.
People from different households should socially distance as much as possible.
You should not interact with anyone outside your group, even if you know them.
In establishments with table service only, do not go up to the bar.
Stick to one member of staff dealing with your table; don’t call over anyone else.
If the pub has a contactless ordering ‘app’, do use it.
Use hand sanitiser regularly.
Give contact details to staff on request for ‘test and trace’ reasons.
No live performances, including music, for now.
Don’t have singalongs.
Tables two-metres apart, or one-metre with ‘risk mitigation’ (plastic shields or chairs back-to-back).
Keep two-metres apart when queuing for takeaways or toilets.
Follow one-way arrows marked on floors.
Pay by card, not cash, whenever possible.
Overlooking the North Norfolk coastline, The White Horse at Brancaster faces big open skies and long sandy beaches. Like seafood? Cockles and Cromer crab are served.
What’s happening? Reopens today. Restaurant/main bar reservations required, but not for the Marsh Side Container Bar. Two metre social distancing encouraged.
Stay: B&B doubles from £160 (whitehorsebrancaster.co.uk).
2. WHAT A SCENE!
In the heart of Constable Country, The Sun Inn is in the quaint village of Dedham, Essex — where John Constable (1776-1837) drew much inspiration. The mustard-yellow pub is impossible to miss.
What’s happening? Bar reopens today; table booking recommended but a few walk-in tables available. Bar menu begins Wednesday; full menu July 17. Reservations recommended. Rooms reopening next Saturday.
Stay: B&B doubles from £150 (thesuninndedham.com).
3. WEST SUSSEX
High on the Sussex Weald, the charming Cat Inn in the village of West Hoathly is another solid pick for walkers. The menu offers locally sourced ingredients including beef from Trenchmore Farm. Wine comes from Bluebell Vineyard.
What’s happening? Reopens today. Restaurant bookings essential. Bar tables must be booked during restaurant hours. Glass partitions between tables. Two metre social distancing encouraged. Guests asked to strip beds on departure putting linen and towels in bags.
Stay: B&B doubles from £130 (catinn.co.uk).
4. HARDY DRINKERS
Thomas Hardy featured The Acorn Inn in the village of Evershot, Dorset, as the Sow-and-Acorn pub in Tess of the d’Urbervilles. Great for exploring Wessex.
What’s happening? Reopens today. Bookings advised for bar/restaurant; walk-ins OK if room. Guests offered face masks. Buffet breakfast replaced by a la carte.
Stay: B&B doubles from £125 (acorn-inn.co.uk).
5. DREAM DEVON
One of the rooms available at Bayards Cove Inn near Dartmouth in Devon. It’s a mile-long walk from Dartmouth Castle
From Bayards Cove Inn, near Dartmouth, it’s a mile-long walk to Dartmouth Castle. Beaches are close by, too. Canoeing, cycling, water-skiing, sailing and fishing are among the numerous activities nearby. Afterwards, enjoy a pint of Bays Topsail bitter in the bar.
What’s happening? Reopens today. Rooms available. Bar table and restaurant reservations recommended; walk-ins accepted when room.
Stay: B&B doubles from £156 (bayardscoveinn.co.uk).
6. CORNISH RAMBLES
On the coast near Penzance, The Old Coastguard in Mousehole is great for hikers, as it’s by the South West Coast Walk. Go for a rugged ramble before repairing to its wood-panelled ‘Bar Humbug’ for real ales and fine wines. It’s been refitted since a fire last year.
What’s happening? Rooms available from July 21; taking bookings. Pub/restaurant reopens ‘a few days prior’ to rooms. Follow its newsletter for more.
Stay: B&B doubles from £155 (oldcoastguardhotel.co.uk).
7. WHEN IN WALES
No date yet for pubs reopening in Wales. But, when there is, lovers of poetry, coastal walks and decent beer should head for Brown’s Hotel in Laugharne, Carmarthenshire. It was Dylan Thomas’s local.
What’s happening? Closed. Waiting for further Welsh Assembly guidance.
Stay: B&B doubles from £115 (browns.wales).
8. WILTSHIRE WINNER
The Greyhound Inn in Letcombe Regis, pictured, is near the North Wessex Downs. It reopens at noon today
With the 87-mile Ridgeway trail along the North Wessex Downs, building up an appetite for the excellent food won’t be a problem at The Greyhound Inn at Letcombe Regis. Rooms are smartly decorated.
What’s happening? Reopens today at noon. Bookings for tables at bar and restaurant required. Must enter via backdoor. Bed throws and cushions removed from bedrooms.
Stay: B&B doubles from £105 (thegreyhoundletcombe.co.uk).
9. BRILLIANT IN BUCKS
Foodies love The Pointer, tucked away in the village of Brill in Buckinghamshire. Expect venison pies, braised lamb and ‘superfood’ salads with avocados, chickpeas and nuts. Lots of great walks.
What’s happening? Reopens today. Reduced restaurant table numbers and disposable menus. Some plastic screens installed. Guests asked to wear face masks in hallways.
Stay: B&B doubles from £120 (thepointerbrill.co.uk).
10. PLOUGHING AHEAD
The Kingham Plough in Kingham, Oxfordshire, pictured, reopens at midday today. It is the quintessential Cotswolds stone pub
In the past few months, the owners of The Kingham Plough in Kingham, Oxfordshire, have been doing some ploughing themselves — of cash into refurbishing their six rooms. This quintessential Cotswolds stone pub has first-rate food. Lots of countryside walks.
What’s happening? Reopens at midday today. Extra, covered, dining area in garden. Advised to book restaurant/bar table. Walk-ins accepted, if space.
Stay: B&B doubles from £145 (thekinghamplough.co.uk).
11. RUTLAND READY
Hidden on a peninsula in Rutland Water, The Finch’s Arms in Upper Hambleton is cosy, with lovely walks nearby. Pub favourites include Lincolnshire sausages and mash.
What’s happening? Reopens today. Bar and restaurant reservations are preferred.
Stay: B&B doubles from £100 (finchsarms.co.uk).
12. CLINKS IN LINCS
The Chequers Inn, pictured, is located in the village of Woolsthorpe in Lincolnshire. It reopens today
Next to a cricket pitch, where drinkers can picnic with a takeaway, the Chequers Inn is in the village of Woolsthorpe, with views over Belvoir Castle. It’s popular with foodies: excellent grilled fish.
What’s happening? Reopens today. Restaurant and bar reservations recommended.
Stay: B&B doubles from £100 (chequersinn.net).
13. CHESHIRE CHEERS
The Plough is in the tiny hamlet of Eaton in Cheshire. B&B doubles are available from £90
Set off on a seven-mile round-trip walk to Boswell Cloud for splendid hilltop views from The Plough at Eaton, a tiny hamlet. You’ll have earned your pint back at the inn. Good pub grub, too.
What’s happening? Bar, restaurant and hotel reopens today.
Stay: B&B doubles from £90 (theploughinncheshire.com).
14. LOVELY IN LANCS
The Cartford Inn in Little Eccleston, Lancashire, is a former coaching inn, set beside the River Wyre. Go hiking in the nearby Bowland Fells. Punchy pineapple and ginger daiquiris and negronis are £8.
What’s happening? Reopening next Saturday. Taking reservations for bar tables/restaurant/hotel. Customers are asked to enter via the car park entrance and leave their coats in the car.
Stay: B&B doubles from £80 (thecartfordinn.co.uk)
15. TIPPLES IN CUMBRIA
Since 1689, regulars have been enjoying a tipple at The Mortal Man pub in Troutbeck, Cumbria, pictured
Regulars have been enjoying a tipple at The Mortal Man pub, in Troutbeck, since 1689, when an alehouse first opened in this wonderfully dramatic setting. William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge stopped for refreshment on one of their Lakeland rambles. Think poetic thoughts while looking across Wansfell in the fantastic beer garden.
What’s happening? Reopens today; must book in advance to secure a restaurant table. Rooms available.
Stay: B&B doubles from £100 (themortalman.co.uk).
16. WHISKEY GALORE
One of the rooms at the Bushmills Inn in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is close to Giant’s Causeway
In the village where Bushmills whiskey is distilled, you can enjoy a wee dram or two in the dimly-lit bars at The Bushmills Inn, County Antrim, Northern Island. The Giant’s Causeway rock formation is close by. There are great coastal walks available, too.
What’s happening? Reopened yesterday. Restaurant/bar reservations recommended.
Stay: B&B doubles from £140 (bushmillsinn.com).
17. HIGHLAND FLING
Expect great food including freshly-caught haddock and langoustines at the traditional Glenelg Inn in Glenelg when it is up-and-running. Magnificent walks nearby, plus sea swims.
What’s happening? Beer garden reopening Wednesday. Rooms ‘pencilled in’ to reopen on July 15.
Stay: B&B doubles from £120 (glenelg-inn.com).
18. LORD IT UP NORTH
The Lord Crewe Arms, pictured, is located in Blanchland, Northumberland. It will be fully open from July 29
Walk up to Pennypie Fell or take a loop round Derwent Reservoir: the scenery from the door of the Lord Crewe Arms in Blanchland, Northumberland, is awe-inspiring. WH Auden once drank champagne and played the piano at old Crypt Bar. Comfy rooms.
What’s happening? Opening fully on July 29; taking bookings now. Will encourage two metre social distancing.
Stay: B&B doubles from £189 (lordcrewearmsblanchland.co.uk).
19. STAR QUALITY
Another Michelin star holder, right on the edge of the beautiful North Yorkshire Moors, The Star Inn at Harome is a 14th-century thatched pub with flair. Expect exposed beams, tartan carpets and clawfoot tub in the stylish rooms.
What’s happening? Reopens today. Restaurant reservations required. A ‘Drinking Field’ is set up in the back so restaurant tables can have more room in the bar.
Stay: B&B rooms from £180 (thestaratharome.co.uk).
20. YORKSHIRE CORKER
The Pipe and Glass in the village of South Dalton, East Riding of Yorkshire, is a converted former coaching inn with grub so good it has a Michelin star. Explore the Yorkshire Wolds: the inspiration for artist David Hockney.
What’s happening? Reopens on Thursday. Reservations required for bar/restaurant, with £20 deposit per person.
Stay: B&B doubles from £200 (pipeandglass.co.uk).
PUB ETIQUETTE: WAIT YOUR TURN AND BUY A ROUND
Never nab a solo drinker’s seat when they go to the bar: it’s poor etiquette.
Never order out of turn: it’s bad form.
Always know what you want in advance of going to the bar.
Do not order Guinness last: it really holds things up.
Loud phone calls are irritating. All calls should be made outside.
Avoid eating pickled eggs. – you never know how long they’ve been sitting in that jar.
If you have to smoke, be conscious of where you put out the butts.
Never eat more than your fair share of communal crisps.
If someone buys you a drink, buy one back.