On Ilmington’s picturesque village green, here’s an address that’s as useful for taking in a Shakespeare play at Stratford-upon-Avon as it is for visiting the Cotswolds. In the 1950s, The Howard Arms was a famous gastronomic destination; today the food, from head chef Gareth Rufus, is again exactly what one wants in a 300-year-old stone-built inn, with pretty arched windows and a fire burning in the hearth. Expect confidently cooked – mainly English – classics from a seasonal menu, celebrating the best of local suppliers, and a bar menu with old and new favourites. The place, recently beautifully refurbished under ambitious ownership, retains its easy-going charm, yet service is professional. There are three rooms upstairs and five in the garden wing, each with luxurious beds, duck down duvets and iPod docks, all charmingly and imaginatively decorated. In the morning follow the Apple Walk, devised by the pupils of Ilmington Primary School and inspired by St Mary’s church’s Apple Map, which shows the many orchards that Ilmington had back in 1922. Doubles from £95.
Do: Visit Kiftsgate or Hidcote Gardens and bask in natural Cotswold beauty at its best.
Eat: Try roasted Barbary duck breast downstairs, it’s popular for a reason.
Buy: A ticket to see a performance at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford Upon Avon.
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