I recently spent a lovely weekend with my mum at a charming little 5 star country inn called The Queens Arms at Corton Denham in Somerset. It's an elegant 18th century stone building nestled in the rolling hills of the Somerset and Dorset borders with stunning countryside views. It's one of those great 'pub with rooms' places, with both the food and the accommodation winning numerous awards - most recently double silver at the South West Tourism Awards, along with an AA 5 star Gold Inn rating, 4 star silver accolade Visit Britain award and a double AA Rosette for its menu - so I happily jumped on a train from London for a couple of days of good food, long walks and rural relaxation.
Husband-and-wife owners Gordon and Jeanette Reid took over just five years ago and extend a warm welcome to guests, locals, dogs (the weekend we visited they just picked up an adorable mini dachshund puppy called Piccolo) and walkers with muddy boots alike. The cosy bar is filled with dog-walking locals and hotel guests sat on the comfy sofas reading the papers, eating pork pies and drinking pints of ale or local cider.
There are eight country chic bedrooms, filled with Egyptian cotton linen, warm goose down duvets, magazines, teapigs teas, L'Occitane toiletries and fluffy towels. The rooms are split across the main building and a coach house, with a garden terrace surrounded by apple trees in between.
Recently named by Sawday's as one of the top three pubs in the UK for its local, seasonal and organic produce, award-winning head chef Ben Abercombie and the kitchen team pride themselves on serving food measured in metres not miles. Most of the menu features locally sourced ingredients including herbs, vegetables and fruit from their own kitchen garden and eggs, chicken and pork from their own farm 2 miles away.
The restaurant serves hearty British favourites, traditional comfort food and modern a la carte dishes - the Cornish hake fillet with poached haddock and giroles was fantastic - alongside a hand-picked list of over 60 wines from around the world. Breakfast is delicious too: I had eggs benedict with thick, chunky ham slices and fresh granary bread with earl grey tea served in silver teapots to set us up for the day.
We walked for miles down little country lanes and over fields to Sherborne, which is one of the prettiest towns in Dorset. There's a grand 15th century Abbey with an ornate fan vault ceiling, the Almshouse of SS John, a Norman castle and an Elizabethan mansion and medieval architecture, thatched roofs, black and white timber buildings, old pubs and antique shops.
The Sunday lunch crowd was out in full force on the terrace, where we sat with a glass of wine in the sunshine before begrudgingly heading back to London. We had a wonderful time with great food, good wine, excellent weather and beautiful surroundings - heartily recommended for a chic rural getaway.
The Queens Arms, Corton Denham near Sherborne, Somerset, DT9 4LR