Eat and Love – Best UK Boutique Hotels – olivemagazine


Looking for boutique hotels to visit? Discover our botholes for food lovers below, then check out our favourite UK city breaks


Best UK boutique hotels

The Eastbury, Sherbourne

Slow down, de-stress and be cosseted at this character-packed hotel in the Dorset market town. Guests can stay in the main Georgian townhouse, Potting Shed rooms in the walled garden or in Eastbury Cottage, with each accommodation offering laid-back vibes and a homely atmosphere. The hotel’s small but deluxe garden spa comes with hot tubs and a steam room for fully-fledged relaxing, or guests can venture outside the grounds to explore the town’s food and craft markets and Sherborne Castle (and sample The Castle’s wines in the Eastbury’s bar for good measure).

On the menu, Chef Matthew Street works with local suppliers and some further afield to ensure his menus offer the best ingredients: Devon crab from Paignton is served with a chilled cucumber and wasabi soup for starters, followed by indulgent and satisfying mains including Japanese braised pork belly with miso broth and burrata and ricotto agnolotti with parmesan crisp. Alternatively, for a more intimate evening there’s the option to book the garden pod, a unique glass snug looking out across the lawn, furnished with plump cushions, soft blankets and ambient lighting.

Interior designer Kathleen Fraser balances muted tones of pale blue and green with colourful prints and interesting textures. The new Eastbury Cottage adjacent to the hotel boasts three delightfully cosy bedrooms, one with a free-standing bath as well as a separate modern shower room. Standout features include the inglenook fireplace, low beams, a very well-equipped kitchen, and sunny private garden with hot tub and dining area.

Doubles from £250, check availability at booking.com

The outdoor spa at The Eastbury in Sherbourne

Heckfield Place, Heckfield

The lines between inside and out are beautifully blurred at this Hampshire estate, where guests can bask in the natural surroundings and enjoy food from the hotel’s biodynamic, organic farm and orchards. Saddleback pigs and chickens lead a happy life here, and a micro-dairy provides the house with milk, cream, yogurt and butter from Guernsey cows.

The menu is overseen by culinary director Skye Gyngell (previously of Petersham Nurseries and now chef-patron at Spring at Somerset House), with plates kept elegantly simple, focussing on what’s good to eat right now. You’ll find dishes such as roast corn-fed chicken with lemon-thyme butter, braised lettuce and gravy on the Sunday lunch menu, and an afternoon tea with smoked salmon brioche buns and a classic victoria sponge with softly whipped cream. Imaginative breakfasts include bircher muesli and roasted rhubarb, bubble and squeak with fried eggs, and buckwheat crêpes with honey butter. During summer, meals are served on the Italian terrace overlooking the gardens and woodlands, with fire pits and sheepskins to keep you cosy on chillier nights.

In line with Heckfield’s biodynamic ethos, cocktails in the Moon Bar are influenced by the lunar phases and made with unique tinctures and bitters. Try First Quarter (raspberry vodka, loganberry liqueur, sugar syrup and espresso) or Waning Gibbous (gin, whey and basil leaves). Rooms are both luxurious and plastic-free, with headboards made by local craftspeople. Interiors focus on muted shades and natural materials such as rush matting, while dried flowers and plants bring the outdoors in.

Doubles from £350, check availability at mrandmrssmith.com

Heckfield Place's glass house restaurant

Crockers, Henley-on-Thames

In a prime spot off the leafy market square of Henley-on-Thames, a converted Georgian townhouse hosts a food lover’s hideaway. Venture through the sophisticated The Grill restaurant to the back of the building, where two elegant chef’s table dining rooms host intricate, interactive dinners. In The Thames room, sit on velvet stools, strategically placed around a sparkling open kitchen, and watch chefs pipe cheese into gougères, pincer peanuts onto passion fruit chocolate desserts, and sprinkle puffed rice onto sizzling duck breasts. Young, talented chef Alex Payne kicks off his eight-course tasting menu with Oxford sourdough, made using a 120-year-old starter originally from Italy, providing a springy base for whipped, mousse-like beef fat and cultured Irish butter. Highlights of the menu include chicken liver parfait delicately sandwiched between crisp chicken skin in a savoury spin on the Jammie Dodger, and halibut cooked in beurre noisette served with a sesame-covered Jersey Royal potatoes, celeriac purée, sweet fennel jam and sea buckthorn gel.

Treat yourself to the Dine & Stay package to prolong your experience in one of the seven elegant rooms, featuring restored marble fireplaces, industrial copper lamps and roll-top, claw-foot baths.

Dine & Stay package from £400 for two, check availability at henley.crockersuk.com

Two chefs plating dishes at a chefs table

The Merry Harriers, Godalming

Check into this calm countryside idyll featuring stunning views and cosy pub vibes. Set in the small picture-postcard village of Hambledon, you’ll find five glamped-up shepherd’s huts set around a tranquil pond, with an uninterrupted view of the rolling Surrey Hills in the distance.

The menu covers everyone’s favourite pub classics: homemade burgers with chilli relish, crisp-battered fish ’n’ chips with chunky tartare, and generous slabs of ham hock terrine with punchy piccalilli. There are also more refined dishes – beetroot carpaccio with local goat’s cheese and candied hazelnuts and a delicately spiced vegan squash massaman curry. Local drinks are well represented, with wine from Albury Organic Vineyard, Crafty Brewing Company beers from up the road in Godalming, and Vann Lane Gin from the distillery next door. Breakfasts are generous – pastries, porridge and fruit are included, as well as made-to-order hot plates such as the Surrey farmhouse fry-up, smashed avo with poached eggs, and smoked salmon with scrambled eggs. Picnic hampers with homemade scotch eggs, sausage rolls and local cheeses can be ordered, either to eat in your hut or to take on a hike.

Inside, the huts have been furnished with luxurious king-size beds and walk-in shower rooms. Underfloor heating and wood burners keep things cosy, with an outdoor fire pit for late-night lounging. At the back of the sunny beer garden, you’ll find the pub’s other residents – a herd of llamas, whom guests can accompany on treks, picnics or just grab sunset selfies with.

Shepherd’s huts from £195, b&b, check availability at expedia.co.uk

The Shepherd Huts at The Merry Harriers

The Gin Trap Inn, Norfolk

Treat yourself to a getaway at this cosy 17th-century coaching inn for instant relaxation, modern-meets-traditional rooms and a G&T or two. The vibe is relaxed: a children’s play area backs onto the outdoor bar, and dogs are made very welcome. A youthful team makes you feel at home immediately – you’ll feel like a local in a lively pub you’ve known for years.

On the menu you’ll find plenty of ‘drinking snacks’, such as guacamole and tortilla chips, and fiery chicken wings, plus a decent burger with buttermilk onion rings and hay roast ham with duck egg, chips and piccalilli to please pub traditionalists. There’s a nod to trends in the more ambitious charred harissa octopus, charcoal-grilled chicken with ’nduja and smoked saffron aïoli, and a crispy buffalo cauliflower bun. There are more than 100 gins on offer, including its own locally made Gin Trap brand. British gins rub shoulders with international varieties including Aussie Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz – drink with tonic, neat or in a post-dinner negroni. Breakfast must-orders are Staithe Smokehouse kippers, a beautiful cinnamon bun and the smoked salmon bagel with pickled cucumber and soft cheese.

When it comes to décor, the line between modern and classic is nicely blurred: in the restaurant there are dark wooden tables and shelves stacked with well-thumbed, classic books. Beyond the main house is the light, contemporary, part-covered outdoor bar with raffia, sage and natural woods, a comfy corner sofa and bench seating. Cottages are cosy and stacked with games and books and filled with interesting textures and tiling that provide splashes of colour in the bedrooms.

Doubles from £120, b&b, check availability at expedia.co.uk

The Gin Trap Inn's restaurant, including dark wooden tables and vintage portraits



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