George and Dragon – Clifton, Cumbria
A lovely place to stay, eat and relax, close to the Eden Valley. Part of the huge Lowther Estate, the village inn has been imaginatively revamped by Charlie Lowther who also owns nearby Askham Hall with its Michelin-star restaurant, Allium. At the George and Dragon, the ground floor is a triumph of conviviality and authenticity. The rustic bar, with its wood-burning stoves, banquette seats strewn with kelim cushions, and sightline through to the slate-floored, duck egg blue-panelled restaurant, create a delightful place in which to while away time. And on sunny days, there is no better spot than at one of the chunky, weathered tables in the courtyard. As for the food, almost all produce comes from Askham Hall’s gardens and estate (the rest is sourced from within a 20-mile radius). Head chef Gareth Webster creates just the sort of tasty, unfussy cooking one craves in the countryside. Speaking of which, anyone staying in one of the inn’s 11 comfortable bedrooms should take advantage of its impressive fishing and stalking opportunities. Families and well-behaved dogs are welcome.
Doubles from £100
+44 (0)1768 865381; georgeanddragonclifton.co.uk