The i-escape blog / Lucy Richardson

By Lucy Richardson, Editor

Pub garden season is almost here! And when the weather is good, there’s nowhere we’d rather be. Here are 10 perfect English pubs to drink, eat and stay at while soaking up the sunshine and the long evenings.

1  The Sun Inn, Essex

You’d be hard-pressed to find a building more summery than the beaming, buttercup yellow exterior of The Sun Inn, located in the picture-postcard village of Dedham in Essex. There’s a handsome pub garden at the rear for alfresco drinking and dining, where you can feast on local dishes that hark back to the Mediterranean. Upstairs, the historic building has been transformed into seven characterful bedrooms, each with unique original features.

We love: The friendly, convivial atmosphere – guests and locals are equally at home here.

Prices: from £213/night

2 The George and Heart House, Kent

Set in Margate’s buzzy old town, The George and Heart House captures everything we love about this cool little town by the sea. Everything here is a mishmash of old and new, where pop-up eateries and the Turner Contemporary art gallery sit cheek by jowl with retro arcades and fish and chip shops. It’s the same story at the inn, which has been brought back to life following an ingenious renovation. Seven bijou bedrooms were styled by local designers, who furnished them with vintage finds, heirlooms and collectibles and gave them names like ‘Home Alone with Mrs Jones’. Downstairs is a sociable restaurant, where sharing plates are served in a courtyard lit by festoon lights.

We love: That each room has its own Spotify soundtrack – a curated playlist to match its unique styling.

Prices: from £109/night

3  The George in Rye, Sussex

The George in Rye is a thoughtful restoration of a 450-year-old coaching inn set in one of England’s prettiest medieval towns. We love it for its excellent seafood, buzzing restaurant and beautifully designed bedrooms. It also gets bonus points for its proximity to Camber Sands, East Sussex’s only sand dune system – because what’s more summery than a day at the beach?

We love: The stylish bedrooms with retro touches and luxe details.

Prices: from £98/night

4 The Crown Inn, Oxfordshire

The town of Woodstock, near Oxford, is easy on the eye year-round but shines brightest in the summer. Wake up in one of The Crown Inn’s beautiful boutique bedrooms, starting the day with a delicious breakfast in the suntrap courtyard, and ending it with evening cocktails in the airy, light-filled conservatory. Head out on strolls through the grounds of Blenheim Palace, Winston Churchill’s birthplace, or visit the ruins of Minster Lovell Hall and go wild swimming in the River Windrush.

We love: The fabulous, bold interiors – think retro sofas, antique drawers, modern art and vintage lighting. This is no mediocre boozer.

 Prices: from £173/night

5  The Three Horseshoes, Somerset

This pub, in a cute village near Bruton, is run by top London chef Margot Henderson, so get set for extremely high-quality cooking. The Three Horseshoes only opened last year but it’s already a destination pub for in-the-know foodies. In summer, diners spill out into the flower-filled garden, which is overlooked by a handsome village church and Somerset’s rolling hills. Upstairs, five sumptuous rooms await. They are enormous and beautifully styled in calming tones – we’d go as far as saying they’re the best pub rooms we’ve seen. When you manage to surface, there are dozens of outdoor attractions nearby, like pretty countryside walks, Stourhead and Longleat.

We love: The free snacks outside the rooms! A cupboard in the hallway stores a supply of homemade biscuits, chocolates and crisps.

Prices: from £195/night

6  The Gurnard’s Head, Cornwall

To disconnect for a few days, head south to The Gurnard’s Head in Cornwall. Mobile phone signal is patchy here, so you can have a proper digital detox among the wildly beautiful scenery of a World Heritage coastline. Walk out along nearby cliffs, or down to a pretty little cove, and let the turquoise views wash away your troubles. Then return to the sunshine-yellow pub for seriously scrummy food incorporating Cornish-sourced ingredients (hake, plaice, pheasant, mushrooms, root veg), dining together on the lawn. Upstairs, the eight rooms are simply decorated with pastel shades (in Cornish lime-based paints) and local artwork – choose rooms 1 or 7 for a sea view.

We love: The fact that guests arriving via the overnight sleeper train from London get a free breakfast (the pub is 10 mins by taxi or bus from the station).

Prices: from £193/night

7  The Cow Dalbury, Peak District

Once a sleepy watering hole, now a boutique inn with stylish rooms, The Cow Dalbury has perfected the art of gastro wining and dining (with a fish and seafood focus and excellent bottomless brunches) and is the perfect base for a summer weekend exploring the East Midlands. You’re within striking distance of the Peak District for sunny strolls, or take a picnic and head to nearby Chatsworth House with 105 acres of gardens and a packed calendar of summer events.

We love: The soul-soothing rural surroundings – ideal for a romantic getaway.

Prices: from £230/night

8  Lord Crewe Arms, County Durham

If your idea of a perfect summer’s day is spent exploring untouched countryside, this is just the place. Set in a cute-as-a-button Pennine village, the Lord Crewe Arms is a characterful coaching inn with contemporary-rustic bedrooms. Disappear for the day to walk, cycle or explore Hadrian’s Wall, then return for delicious but unfussy dishes and a restorative local pint before a blissfully peaceful night’s sleep in this historic building.

We love: The gorgeous garden; the perfect spot for summertime sipping.

Prices: from £246/night

9  Sculthorpe Mill, Norfolk

Friendly riverside boozer Sculthorpe Mill is just a short hop from North Norfolk’s beautiful beaches – Holkham, Wells-next-the-Sea and Brancaster are all a 20-minute drive away. Yet at this quaint 1757 mill, you’re in blissful isolation, surrounded only by fields and a peaceful nature reserve next door. The seven flamboyant bedrooms are decorated in vibrant river blues and greens, with deeply cosy beds and colourful shower bathrooms. But it’s the fabulous food, served on a sunny riverside terrace in summer, that draws the crowds. Executive chef Elliot Ketley (ex-Soho House) champions Norfolk’s larder. Our home-cured trout was prettily strewn with fennel shavings and samphire, and the squid was the best we’d had in England.

We love: The selection of locally-produced brews on offer – especially the Archangel gin, which is made with holy water from the nearby Walsingham shrine.

Prices: from £126/night

10  The Crown at Stoke by Nayland, Suffolk

The inviting outdoor terrace of The Crown brims with flowers in the summer months; views of green fields and water meadows stretch out beyond. It’s a gorgeous spot to enjoy fabulous local food and a glass or two from the extensive wine list. Retire to welcoming bedrooms – plump for the Even Better Rooms with amazing rolling views or, if it’s a special occasion, the Best Room with its private terrace.

We love: The fabulous food, with an emphasis on local produce. When we last revisited, the smoked rare breed bacon and sausages made for one of our best breakfasts ever.

Prices: from £178/night