Cotswold villages, with their honey-coloured cottages, windy lanes, and farmers markets, are an enchanting reminder of the English pastoral idyll of times gone by. Of course, nothing is more charming than a traditional village pub. With low wooden beams, stuffed foxes, open fires, and local brews, these are the best of the lot.
The Chequers Churchill Courtesy of The Lucky Onion
The Chequers, Churchill
Bar, Gastropub, Restaurant, British, $$$
The Chequers, Churchill | Courtesy of The Wild Rabbit
The Chequers successfully manages to combine shabby rustic charm and exceptional quality in a way that is quite unlike anywhere else. The attention to detail in their food, drink, and decor results in unpretentious perfection. Expect twice-baked cheddar soufflés, devilled kidneys on toast, whole roast partridge and Chateaubriand. Frequented by visitors and local farmers alike, the Chequers is popular with people from all walks of life. Get a table in the atmospheric bar area rather than the main restaurant, and make sure to sample a platter of cured brizola ham or one of their famous Bloody Marys while you ponder over the menu.
The Wild Rabbit certainly can’t be accused of being rustic or laid back, but ticks all the boxes for those looking to enjoying a smart weekend trip to the country. Serving (allegedly) the most expensive chips in England, the Wild Rabbit is run by the owners of Daylesford Organic Farmshop just a mile away, and carries the same elegant, impressive, high standards with it. Their newly appointed chef, Tim Allen, has previously been awarded a Michelin star and places a strong emphasis on sourcing wild and foraged seasonal produce from local artisan producers.
Blackboard Menu being changed by Tom | Courtesy of The Horse and Groom
Run by the highly acclaimed Lucky Onion group, the Wheatsheaf is a sister pub to the Chequers in Churchill, and is equally as brilliant. Their menu is similar, if even a little more refined, boasting Cornish clams for starters and ox cheek, rib, and oyster pie as a main. The drinks list is extensive, and the staff are keen to talk you through their intriguing seasonal menu. The Wheatsheaf defines ‘gastro-pub’, and never fails to live up to its reputation.
The Horse and Groom seems to have won every good food prize under the sun, and was recently awarded Pub of the Year, so it’s well worth a visit even if just to see what all the fuss is about. They chalk up the daily menu on blackboards rather than printing menus, allowing complete flexibility to make the most of fresh, seasonal produce as it comes in. During the course of a service, up to half the menu can change, adding a little spontaneity and providing an interesting selection for even the most regular diners. They have five spacious bedrooms, with the ‘Garden Double’ opening onto their beautifully landscaped grounds.
Despite being situated in one of the Cotswolds’ most chocolate-box towns, The Bell is refreshingly less rarefied than many of the other local pubs. They serve fantastic cocktails and their menu is less traditional than many of their competitors, with seafood linguini and seasonal salads providing more options than the traditional burger and chips. The staff will go above and beyond, making The Bell an ideal place for birthdays or large gatherings.
This 17th-century tavern is steeped in history, yet its owners have managed to bring it up to date beautifully. They have a few boutique bedrooms and a good selection of local brews, but the excellent variety in food is what makes the Churchill Arms stand out. The menu ranges from humble country fare, such as local sirloin steak or calf’s liver, to oysters and smoked haddock soufflé. The Churchill Arms are especially famous for their Sunday lunch, where they serve up all the usual trimmings with a glass of champagne.
The husband-wife team who run The Plough believe firmly in only using the best locally-sourced ingredients, and it pays off in their delicious yet simple food. Dogs are allowed, encouraged even, in keeping with the relaxed and friendly atmosphere at this village inn. Naturally, they stock a fantastic selection of draught local ales, lagers, and ciders, but legendary homemade pork pies are what the Plough does best.
Courtesy of The Bell, Sapperton Courtesy of The Bell, Sapperton
The Bell, Sapperton
Located in the South Cotswolds between Stroud and Cirencester, The Bell at Sapperton is all about roaring log fires in winter and stunning outdoor seating in summer. Placing a large emphasis on natural, homemade food, the extensive menu is fresh and delicious, without being overly fancy. Make sure to try their cucumber or rhubarb martinis. True to its country roots, the Bell offer free parking for horses, making it an ideal stopping point if you’re out riding.
Village Green | Courtesy of Kings Head, Bledington
The Kings Head Inn, Bledington
Pub, Restaurant with Rooms, Hotel Restaurant, Pub Grub, Beer, European
Another all-time favourite, The Kings Head is situated on the idyllic village green in Bledington, where cricket is played in the summer. Popular with all generations, families mingle with smart London weekenders; the Kings Head excels in everything they do. Alongside their more expensive À la carte menu, they currently offer a special ‘pub classics’ menu at lunchtimes. They also serve a lovely ‘roast to share’ on Sunday lunchtimes, a whole joint of meat carved at the table with all the trimmings, which is popular with locals and visitors alike. The adventurous puddings are perhaps the best part of their menu, so make sure you save room for the carrot cake, olive oil panna cotta, and blood orange sorbet.
The Fox Inn scores top marks for quaint Cotswold rustic charm, which more than makes up for any lack of sophisticated cuisine. Stuffed foxes decorate the Cotswold Stone walls, wooden beams support the low ceilings, and the open fire is always lit during the winter months. The food is almost exclusively rustic country grub like sausages, pork chops, and sirloin steak, and they serve a good selection of local beers on tap at their old-fashioned bar. Opt for one of these rather than wine or cocktails, which tend to be overpriced and disappointing.