Some travelers come to England to play King or Queen for the day, explore vast ballrooms, see crown jewels, and stand on a tower and shout “lower the drawbridge!” But then there are others who prefer things on a smaller scale. Those travelers want to visit the England of rambling cottages, ivy-covered gardens, and pubs down the lane. If you’re in that latter camp, your hunt for a little storybook cottage is over. We’ve lined up 10 adorable inns that get the highest marks for coziness and charm.
From the swinging sign on its masonry façade to the Hunter boots perched on a wicker basket, this charming coaching inn is fairytale material. But despite its traditional facade, rooms swap out the grandmotherly decor found in most B&Bs for a chic, muted color palette of soft grays, mauves, and the occasional burgundy or marigold blanket. Dust ruffles and porcelain knickknacks have also been replaced with wire-frame trays and metal lamps as well. But stylish rooms aside, the property’s real highlight could be its restaurant and bar, where guests dig into gastropub fare or hoist a pint of beer next to a working fireplace.
The Bickley is refreshingly simple and down-to-earth, just like its origins — it was once a humble water mill. Today the Tudor-style windows still point to the building’s age, which dates all the way back to the 13th century. Interiors are painted in pale pastel hues, and beam ceilings add elegance to several of the guest rooms. But the biggest lure here could be the property’s grounds, a lush green hillside with stone steps and picnic tables. The inn even has a beer garden out on a deck, an excellent spot to sample the local ales.
With a masonry facade, pitched roof, and white-trimmed windows, the Cedar Manor Hotel is the very picture of grandma’s cottage – all that’s missing is a curlicue of smoke rising from the chimney. The 10-room country house dates back to the 1800s, and its cathedral windows (including some stained glass) have been well preserved. But rooms are far from fussy and include an even mix of antique furnishings like oak wardrobes and modern additions like pendant lights and iPod docks. An elegant little coach house is available for rent as well.
This petite 11-room property is an even mix of town and country, given that it’s just a 10-minute walk from the center of Bath. But the Georgian guest house has a pastoral soul, with a rambling garden complete with English poppies. (Large black umbrellas are propped by the door should the weather turn.) The limestone building is topped with multiple chimneys, lending a homey look. Rooms are traditional without being stuffy, with brass beds and woolen blankets adding to their appeal.
This stone-and-slate building edged in white trim pulls off a double whammy of being both adorable and majestic. Once a 19th-century hunting lodge, the property is bigger than the others on the list, topping out at 39 rooms. While that may dial down its cuteness factor, that extra size allows the Wordsworth to offer a few amenities most others don’t, such as a spa. A marble fireplace paired with deep leather armchairs in the lounge gives a proper place to dry off after any English drizzle. And rooms continue the look with floral wallpaper and cabriole-legged writing desks.
Once the residence of a Victorian gent, this guest house has retained its historic character. The intimate 21-room property is too petite to be considered a grand estate, but there is something stately about its dining room with a peaked skylight and its parlor, complete with wingback armchairs and tasseled pillows. The back garden, accessed through a wrought-iron gate, adds to this property’s enchantment. Though it feels removed from modern life, Marmadukes is close enough to York attractions that tourists can reach the city’s Castle Museum in a short drive.
This 16th-century inn has the type of construction you normally see in gingerbread houses. The sloping roof and little chimneys top a mason-and-timber structure slathered thickly in mortar ,almost giving it the appearance of royal icing. Creeping vines and giant blooms complete the look. A bicycle parked out front serves as the inn’s sign, proudly trumpeting, “Old Swan: Great Food, Real Ale & Fine Wines.” Inside beamed ceilings and slate floors give a rustic vibe, embellished by coats of arms, oil paintings, and copper kettles. The verdant grounds are just as atmospheric and include a duck house, where the inn’s fowl friends can be spotted waddling around.
The romantic English gardens here are just as much of a draw as the property itself, a fact that’s hinted by the building’s facade, which is absolutely heaving with greenery and twisting vines. Long green lawns extend from the property, embroidered with boxwood, ferns, and English roses. Sets of patio furniture topped with sun umbrellas give spots to linger. Public spaces have a classic look, with Oriental rugs and gilt-framed etchings. But rooms veer more toward the contemporary with boldly printed wallpaper or headboards in a geometric print. On-site dining can be taken alfresco and includes afternoon tea (but of course).
There’s nothing sleek about The Fox Goes Free, a tiny brick-and-mortar cottage fronted with picnic tables. A handwritten sign out front reads, “We have five en-suite rooms, three doubles, and two twin rooms.” In other words, this is about as far from the Marriott as you can get. The property is more accurately described as a pub with rooms, and both the pub and the rooms bear original details that showcase the building’s 400-year history. The pub has the feeling of a den, full of worn wooden tables and a fireplace adorned with copper kettles. Rooms are equally classic, with timber-beam ceilings and wrought-iron bed frames. And the grounds, adorned with apple trees, give a great spot for a sobering walk if you overdo it on the local ales.
This Edwardian country house sits proudly on a hilltop overlooking Lake Windermere. The building itself is lovely, with multiple bay windows and an arched entrance, but the grounds are the real draw here: 22 acres of sprawling terrain laced with walking trails and outfitted with stone terraces, benches, and fountains. Admittedly, rooms are a bit dated, with old-fashioned bedspreads and blond-wood furniture, but most guests still find them cozy. And public spaces are also inviting, such as the multiple lounges, each with its own fireplace ringed with armchairs.