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 committed owners Sarah and Richard have been busy since they took over in 2014, maintaining its warm atmosphere and enhancing its reputation for seasonal food. The Dog and Boot Bar is a flourishing meeting spot for locals, where both mutts and wellies are equally welcome, and food and drink are served all day (don’t miss Sarah’s homemade cakes). The inn has a magnificent setting beside the River Monnow, with comfy sofas beside the fires. In the candlelit, flagstone 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 £150.
Name to Know: Jim, the gardener and general factotum, who can usually be found in the kitchen garden. He can tell you all about what’s growing at the moment.
See: Historic castles and abbeys along the Marches border between Wales and England starting with Skenfrith Castle in the village. For outstanding natural countryside, try to walk every one of The Bell’s six circular walks.
Eat: Welsh head chef Joseph Colman uses local suppliers for his modern British, seasonal menus with just a hint of Welsh bias!
Buy: Homemade breads, cakes and pickles from owner Sarah Hudson’s new ‘Bakery’ (opening Summer 2017)
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