Best for: Insider access to a sought-after country hotel
Why here? The group’s latest outpost is no secret – in fact, it has been widely shouted about since its opening back in 2018. But for some who were looking to book it may have seemed, budget-wise, a tad out of reach (as popularity grew, so did the prices for a double room). That’s where the Shepherd’s Hut comes in. As long as you’re fine with ever-so-slightly squashed but still smart accommodation, you can experience all that this delightful pub-with-rooms has to offer with potentially less than half of the cash splashed. At the back of the main building, where the terrace meets the vegetable garden, pick your way through the lettuces and you’ll find this navy-blue painted hut. The welcoming soft light on the wooden steps is created by a single bare lightbulb bolted next to the door. Inside there’s a raised double tucked into one corner, with little curtains over a teensy window you can draw from bed, an ensuite bathroom with a rainfall shower, a log burner (best not to light it in summer as it becomes furnace-like very quickly) and even a mini fridge stuffed with goodies. Ride the free bicycles, have a nose at the curated art collection and pull up a seat at the bar for a proper pint among tweed-wearing locals and young Londoners. For more, see our Artist Residence Oxfordshire hotel review.
Room to book: The Shepherd’s Hut or the Rabbit Hole, a cosy nook tucked away in the eaves of the main farmhouse, are where you'll get the best prices. Even if it’s a Tuesday remember to reserve a table for dinner.
Insider tip: Heavy rain can be deafening as it bounces and pings off the corrugated tin roof – so take ear plugs, just in case.
Address: Artist Residence Oxfordshire, Station Road, South Leigh, Witney OX29 6XN
Price: from £162
The Fuzzy Duck, Warwickshire
Best for: A weekend with the little ones
Why here? With just four bedrooms, this terracotta-brick pub is the project of siblings Adrian Slater and Tania Fossey, the founders of Baylis & Harding. Kick off your Hunters (or borrow some of the ones they’ve laid out at the front door) and settle into the caramel-leather armchairs as soon as you arrive. Or, if it’s sunny, plonk yourselves on the pretty terrace at the back, order a G&T and don’t move until supper rolls around. It’s the little touches that make this hotel so lovable: a decanter of help-yourself sherry, cushions swaddled in Aran wool, one-of-a-kind artworks (framed duck eggs) and plenty of Baylis & Harding beauty products. The food here is what most people come for. Tuck into a delicious rabbit pie with mashed potato and Calabrese broccoli, or go for a totally different option with the zingy Vietnamese salad doused in chilli and lime. And don’t skip the ‘whatchamacallit’ pudding, a gooey mess of salted caramel and chocolate.
Room to book: Muscovy (rooms are named after breeds of duck) has a charming French antique rattan bed with crisp Frette linen.
Insider tip: Children are especially welcome – there’s a big garden to run off steam, a dressing-up box and the mini macaroni-and-cheese from the ‘ducklings’ menu is a massive hit.
Address: The Fuzzy Duck, Ilmington Road, Armscote, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 8DD
Price: from £135