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The Duncombe Arms, Ellastone, Peak District
This 19th-century Staffordshire pub had been sitting abandoned and unloved for years until Johnny and Laura Greenall stepped in to rescue it. Following a major renovation it reopened in 2012 and proved a dab hand at delivering everything you want from a village pub, including log fires, a friendly atmosphere and great food and drink. The only thing missing was somewhere to sleep it all off - but in 2018 they got that sorted too, opening a new barn-style building behind the pub, with 10 extremely smart rooms that would give any boutique hotel a run for its money. It's tempting to just stay in and be lazy but with the Peak District National Park on the doorstep, there's plenty of reason to get out exploring.
We loved spotting a stoat on a walk through nearby Dimmingsdale, part of the beautiful Churnet Valley, and enjoying homemade cake at the tea rooms there.
The pub is in the quiet rural village of Ellastone, with rolling hills and moorland surrounding it.
By car: The Three Horseshoes is 1 hour 20 mins from Sheffield, 1 hour 30 mins from Manchester and 3 hours 15 mins from London. There is free parking on-site.
By train: London Euston to Stoke-on-Trent takes 1 hour 30 mins. The hotel is a 30-minute taxi ride from the station. thetrainline.com
Style & Character
It works equally well for walkers, foodies, romantic weekenders and anyone who wants a chic base for exploring the Peak District. The cosiness and character of the pub is lovely, especially in the evening when mini oil lamps on the tables cast a flatteringly soft glow.
Service & Facilities
We love warmth and restful crackle of the wood fires and outdoor fire bowl, both kept generously piled with logs throughout the day. Dogs are allowed in a few of the bedrooms and in the bar area of the pub, but not in the dining areas.
- Beer garden
- Free Wi-Fi
- Free parking
The rooms are all gorgeous but if you fancy stepping out through French windows on to the patio, go for one on the ground floor. The comfy beds and the lovely toiletries, fragranced with geranium, lavender and peppermint, from chic organic brand Bamford, are nice touches.
Deluxe Double Rooms, Junior Suites
Facilities include: luxury Egyptian cotton bed linens, duck-down duvet and mattress topper, bathrobes, Bamford soaps, free Wi-Fi, smart TV, DAB radio, free teas in room, Nespresso machine, still and sparkling water from Blenheim Palace
Food & Drink
The number of wines available by the glass is impressive - you get several dozen different bottles to choose from. For pudding, a tonka bean Cambridge cream delivers the perfect combination of crisply caramelised sugar topping and creamy smooth custard below.
The restaurant: adventurous modern British dishes, pub classics, award-winning food, Sunday roasts. Open every day for lunch and dinner. Breakfast 8-9.30am Monday to Friday and 8.30-10am on Saturday & Sunday.
The bar: local ales, 160 wines, spirits. Open daily from noon.