Where to Sleep in the English Countryside
Mr & Mrs Smith Guides
James Lohan and Tamara Heber Percy, the couple behind the cheeky Mr & Mrs Smith travel guides (mrandmrssmith.com), highlight new food-focused country hotels:
The Brew House Hotel, Kent
The 18th-century building has 10 elegant rooms and a restaurant that sources top British ingredients, like Falmouth Bay oysters.
The Crab & Lobster, West Sussex
The pub at this four-room, 16th-century coastal inn serves Selsey crabs and lobsters just pulled from the sea.
The George in Rye, East Sussex
This updated coaching inn has quirky touches like bird-patterned wallpaper, and a local, seasonal menu from London's Rod Grossmann.
Historic Coaching Inns
One of the U.K.'s biggest style visionaries has taken on the fusty country inn. Ilse Crawford, who blew the dust off of English design as founding editor of Britain's Elle Decoration in 1989, began working on luxury hotel and restaurant projects in 1998. Her latest venture is the relaunching of a chain of historic British coaching inns (which originally catered to stagecoach travelers). Renovations of the Olde Bell and Crown inns, both outside of London, were completed in mid-2008 and include revamped menus that reflect Crawford's design sensibility: stylish, modern, British and comfortable. Crawford oversees every detail, from the design of the chalkboard menus to the local honey paired with house-made scones to the selection of Penguin Classics in each guest room. Rooms at the affordable inns start at about $200.