At the rear of The Village Pub a woman with three labradors drinks white wine while chatting to Katie, the pub’s cheerful assistant manager. A Land Rover crunches into the gravel car park and a couple in tweeds amble into the main bar after exchanging hellos with the labrador-owner.
Sunlight filters through trees above ivy-covered walls and beds of roses and lavender. What a peaceful, friendly place.
The picture-perfect Village Pub is indeed within a village: sleepy Barnsley, a few miles east of Cirencester in Gloucestershire.
Country charm: Outside The Village Pub in the sleepy village of Barnsley
It is part of the upmarket Calcot Collection of hotels, which have three further properties in the Cotswolds, plus one in Northumberland.
Just across the street is a sister hotel: Barnsley House, a sumptuous five-star country house hotel with exquisite gardens and a spa (models Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell have stayed).
While rooms there set you back at least £300 B&B, the six rooms at The Village Pub are more modest. Earlier this year they were refreshed by interior designer Nicky Farquhar, so you can hide away in a stylish crash pad in the Cotswolds for a relative song.
On my visit there’s the murmur of chatter inside the low-beamed, flagstone bar (the building is 17th Century). The bar itself is copper-topped. Scrabble and other board games are stacked on a shelf. There are cosy snugs and tucked-away corners galore. A photo of a winning local cricket team sits above one fireplace, a wooden stag’s head gazes down above another. It’s a popular little local – now with smart rooms which have their own entrance.
The USP: Barnsley is excellent walker territory. From the pub try a two-mile loop southwards through rolling countryside past a disused quarry to the edge of Lowe Field Farm before turning west for a short distance and returning north (the pub provides maps). Other walks are available; the longest is five miles. The Corinium Museum in ‘the capital of the Cotswolds’ – Cirencester – is also worth a visit to check out Roman archaeological finds (coriniummuseum.org) and furniture-lovers will discover more recent treasures in the many antiques shops.
Food mood: Wash down a delicious meal at Village Pub with a glass of wine
The rooms: Described as ‘country comfy’, the rooms feature mustard-coloured walls, leek-green sofas, retro Bakelite telephones, espresso machines, ‘yummy boxes’ stocked with Cotswolds lager and champagne, and REN toiletries.
The food: Duck with red cabbage, pork belly, and fish and chips with mushy peas are bestsellers, while the twice-baked cheddar soufflé is a showstopper. Three courses from about £29.
The Village Pub, Barnsley, Gloucestershire. B&B breaks from £120 for a double room. For more information visit thevillagepub.co.uk.