Contemporary and cosy rarely coincide, but this stylishly converted 17th-century coaching inn is one place that convincingly combines the two. The Bell has been winning awards since 1999, when it was fully restored, and the new owners Sarah and Richard have been busy since they took over in December 2014, maintaining its warm atmosphere and enhancing its reputation for superb seasonal food. The Locals’ Bar has been reinstated and named The Dog and Boot Bar, where both are equally welcome, and food and drink are served all day (don’t miss Sarah’s homemade cakes). The inn has a magnificent setting in unspoilt countryside beside the River Monnow, with comfy sofas beside the fires in a huge inglenook or in the guest sitting room. In the candlelit, flagstoned dining room, modern British dishes (with ingredients from the kitchen garden) are supported by a well-organised wine list. Many of the 11 sophisticated bedrooms, each charmingly named after a trout fly, have beams, four posters and billowing white duvets. Doubles from £130.
Do: Order a picnic and embark on one of The Bell’s legendary circular walks around this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Eat: At the hotel for classic but modern food that fills you up after a ramble.
Buy: A couple of drinks at The Dog and Boot Bar.
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