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Picture yourself sipping a cloudy West Country cider in the English sun come summer, snuggling up by a crackling wood fire with a real ale come winter, or watching the leaves turn red and orange from your window come autumn. Cue the inn, a type of stay that promises to leave behind the energy of the big city and get you out and about in the countryside. For centuries, these roadside boltholes have hosted highwaymen and coach riders, offering a hearty place to rest the head before the journey commences again in the morning.
These days, staying at an inn means enjoying a whole host of benefits that a large-scale hotel resort simply can't offer. For starters, there's usually plenty of history oozing from each cracked-stone wall and smoke-scented hearth. Some have stories that go back centuries, with tales of travellers, civil wars and ghosts all twisting and turning in their alcoves and crevices. Others are newer, attempting to channel the spirit and cosiness of the classic inn stay in cities like London and Manchester and beyond.
Food plays a big part at the inn, too. Most all of these accommodations come with a pub attached to the side. That means a bout of filling fish and chips, Scottish meats, Welsh sausages, Cornish pasties and English cheeses is never too far away – and neither are the ales and beers, which are often locally brewed or homemade.
There are plenty of places across the UK and Europe where you can enjoy the traditional inn experience. Inns in Cambridge come replete with thatched roofs and ivy-clad stone walls. Inns in Cheltenham sit on the Cotswold walking paths, adorned with colourful hanging baskets in the spring and warmed by wood fires in the winter – the acclaimed Plough Inn is a fine choice for that country escape.
Other options have brought the inn-style lodging to the big city. Inns in London are plentiful, for example. Take the refined and elegant Sydney House, which clocks up the full 5 stars thanks to its fusion of modern and Victorian design features, creating a space that flows from chic bathrooms, through art-filled lobbies and out to panoramic terraces overlooking the tops of the Chelsea houses.
For a taste of the country, of history and of cosiness all at the same time, the inn might just be the perfect pick.