Prospect Tower, Faversham, Kent
This 19th-century flint tower, with an appealing ‘prospect’ from its ornate windows, is ideally situated for not one, but two, pubs that make this year’s list.
7 miles to Top Gastropub #2:
The Sportsman, Seasalter near Whitstable
The Sportsman has held a Michelin star since 2008. This pub uses locally sourced produce such as fish and oysters, and grows many of its own ingredients just like the monks at Canterbury Cathedral that farmed this land to feed the influx of tourists arriving after the murder of Thomas Becket in 1170.
Sample dish: Braised Brill Fillet with a Mussel and Bacon Tartare.
11 miles to Top Gastropub #17:
The Compasses Inn, Crundale, Canterbury
Winner of this year’s Gastropub Chef of the year category. This 16th-century pub, in the heart of the beautiful Kent countryside, has a string of accolades including two AA rosettes and has also featured in the Waitrose Good Food Guide for the last two years. Described by the owner as a ‘muddy wellies and fine food kind of place’, the pub uses fresh, local produce and even vegetables, herbs and fruit from its own garden.
Sample dish: Pork Belly with Almandine Potatoes, Roast Chicory and Almond Milk Sauce.
Prospect Tower sleeps 2 and is available from £54 per person per night.
St. Mary's Lane and Abbey Gatehouse, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire
Choose from either a fine 18th-century stocking makers house down a quiet side street in Tewkesbury with views through the expansive first floor window (used to light the knitting frame) across to the Abbey, or the equally peaceful Abbey Gatehouse in the grounds themselves, which dates back to around 1500.
8 miles to Top Gastropub #8:
The Butcher's Arms, Eldersfield
The Butcher’s Arms, Eldersfield - a 16th-century rural pub with low ceilings, wooden floors and, in winter, a roaring fire - uses seasonal produce and was awarded a Michelin star in 2011, plus won Michelin Pub of the Year in 2016.
Sample dish: Aged Rib of Longhorn beef with mini oxtail pie, carrot puree, savoy cabbage .
St. Mary's Lane sleeps 4 and is available from £14 per person per night.
Abbey Gatehouse sleeps 2 and is available from £36 per person per night.
Danescombe Mine in Calstock, Pond Cottage and Swiss Cottage near Tavistock, Devon
Choose from any of the above Landmarks - a 19th-century copper and arsenic mine, scenic Pond cottage at the heart of one of the most Picturesque gardens in Britain or, also at Endsleigh, Swiss Cottage, complete with its Alpine garden (described by the artist JMW Turner as ‘altogether Italian’).
6.5 miles to Top Gastropub #14:
The Cornish Arms, Tavistock, Devon
Set at the foothills of Dartmoor, this pub was placed in the Top 50 list just six months after its opening in 2013. It has won a ream of other awards including a Michelin Bib Gourmand which it has retained since 2014, and 3 AA rosettes. It prides itself on using local, seasonal produce to make hearty, unpretentious food in a welcoming, relaxed atmosphere.
Sample dish: Olde Cornish sausages, mash, onion gravy.
Danescombe Mine sleeps 4 and is available from £15 per person per night.
Pond Cottage sleeps 5 and is available from £15 per person per night.
Swiss Cottage sleeps 4 and is available from £17 per person per night.
Anderton House, Goodleigh, Devon
Listed Grade II*, this modern house with its Frank Lloyd Wright inspired bedrooms, was commissioned by the Anderton family in 1969 from architect, Peter Aldington. He describes it as ‘perhaps the nearest we came to an integration of inside and outside spaces’. The views of the rolling Devon countryside are certainly worthy of this integration.
11 miles to Top Gastropub #15:
Masons Arms, Knowstone, South Molton, Devon
A 13th-century inn with fine views across hills to Exmoor. Despite gaining a Michelin star for its exceptional cuisine, it’s still a cosy village local, giving a warm welcome to both visitors and regulars. This pub also offers a food Masterclass every Wednesday for 8 people (book in advance), lasting 1 ½ hours and followed by a 3 course lunch with a glass of wine.
Sample dish: Monkfish wrapped in prosciutto ham with scallops, artichokes, tomato and basil.
Anderton House sleeps 5 and is available from £22 per person per night.
Clytha Castle, Abergavenny, Wales
This eye-catching castle folly was built in the 18th century by William Jones of Clytha House as a memorial to his wife, Elizabeth. It stands on the summit of a small hill and was used as a retreat and also for grand picnics. It has a wonderful kitchen/dining room in the south turret that looks out into the clearing in the woods.
8 miles to Top Gastropub #30:
The Hardwick, Abergavenny
The Hardwick was created by Chef Stephen Terry who trained under Marco Pierre White and Michel Roux Jr. The dishes he creates here have been described by Masterchef’s Greg Wallace, as ‘outstanding’. Stephen has also written a book in which he expresses what inspires his cooking.
Sample dish: Char-grilled Herefordshire-bred Jonny Morris 10oz rib-eye or sirloin, served with skinny fries, wild garlic butter, roast tomatoes & mushrooms.
Clytha Castle sleeps 6 and is available from £27 per person per night.
Crownhill Fort, Plymouth, Devon
Built in the 1860s to protect the naval base from attacks by land or sea, it is one of only two large forts of its kind in the country. Crownhill has an incredibly spacious kitchen of its own, which gives excellent views of the comings and goings (Crownhill is open to the public at certain times throughout the year and on a daily basis houses a range a small businesses).
9 miles to Top Gastropub #42:
The Treby Arms, Sparkwell, Devon
This Devon pub was built in 1855 by Isambard Kingdom Brunel for his workforce to socialise and rest in, while they worked on the Royal Albert Railway bridge that connects Plymouth to Cornwall. Since a Michelin star was awarded in September 2016, it has come a long way from its humble beginnings, whilst still retaining its appeal as a place to relax and enjoy good company. You can sample either the set lunch, à la carte or taster menu, all prepared using the most fresh, local and seasonal produce.
Sample dish: Devon duck, yeast glazed breast, boudin, summer herbs and pink peppercorns.
Crownhill Fort sleeps 8 and is available from £14 per person per night.
The Priest's House, Holcombe Rogus, Devon
Built around 1500, this church house acted as half village hall and half inn. It had a kitchen and a brewery and on festivals and Saint’s days, Parish feasts were held here offering hospitality to its guests. There is still a spacious country kitchen with wonderful wooden beams and traditional dresser. Coincidentally, many church houses later became pubs and still are to this day.
7.5 miles to Top Gastropub #50:
The Swan, Bampton, Devon
The Swan is the oldest pub in this charming historic town. Originally it was built in 1450 as lodgings for the masons and craftsmen who were building St. Michael’s church which can be seen from the dining room and terrace. The original fireplace and bread oven has been kept at the pub to this day. The Swan creates its menu based on the local, regional and seasonal produce available each day and includes many pub classics. As well as making it onto the Top 50 Gastropub list, they have also been awarded two AA rosettes for culinary excellence.
Sample dish: Spiced Rump of Exmoor lamb, pea puree, summer vegetables, crispy bacon.
The Priest's House sleeps 5 and is available from £15 per person per night