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Three Horseshoes Country Inn & Spa, Leek, Peak District
For those who think the Peak District is all in Derbyshire, it comes as a surprise to find that Staffordshire has a chunk of it, too - and a very dramatic chunk at that. Perfectly placed for exploring it is this popular country inn, which sits right on the national park boundary. The Three Horseshoes has been in the hands of the same family since 1981 and there's a comfortable, down-to-earth feel to both service and rooms. It has a few surprises up its sleeve too, like lovely views from the gardens, a handful of rooms with outdoor hot tubs and - star of the show - a great little spa that manages to be both chic and characterful at the same time.
Wild wallabies, escaped from a private zoo, once lived nearby. No one's seen one for years but it's fun to picture them bounding across the moors.
The hotel is a couple of miles outside Leek and a short drive from the popular spa town of Buxton. There are plenty of dramatic walks nearby, including The Roaches, a famous ridge.
By car: The Three Horseshoes is 1 hour 15 mins from Sheffield, 1 hour 20 mins from Manchester and 3 hours 45 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 35-minute taxi ride from the station. thetrainline.com
Style & Character
The inn attracts a mixed bunch of walkers, climbers, bird-watchers, spa-goers, local diners (the restaurant is very popular) and weekend-breakers who like staying away from obvious hotspots. The new wing is sensitively designed - it's low-rise and built from local stone so it doesn't jar with its surroundings.
Service & Facilities
There's plenty of outside space, with a large decked terrace and different garden areas, so there's every chance of finding a corner to yourself.
- Free Wi-Fi
- Free parking
Room 110 has a big four-poster bed and probably the best view of the Roaches, which you can see from the garden. We love the beautiful sunset view across the fields, and the twinkly fairy lights that light up in the trees after dark.
Pub, Classic, Superior, Garden
Facilities include: double bed, ensuite bathroom with shower, TV, free Wi-Fi, tea and coffee facilities
Food & Drink
There's plenty of choice for vegetarians, including a superfood salad, Provencal vegetable lasagne, and butternut squash and quinoa burger. The best dish at dinner was probably a homemade steak-and-ale pie, with big chunks of meat and plenty of gravy.
The Country Inn: 2 AA Rosettes, Staffordshire produce, seasonal dishes, pub classics, sandwiches, grilled steaks, roasts. Open every day for lunch and dinner. Afternoon tea Friday & Saturday, 3-5pm. Mains from £12.90.