Lower Green, ILMINGTON, Shipston on Stour, CV36 4LT
Overlooking the lower green and pastures at the fringe of this charming North Cotswolds village, the 400-year-old Howard Arms is a great base for local walks, detailed in a guide sold here in support of church funds, and handy for the renowned National Trust gardens at Hidcote, just along the lane. Well-appointed residential rooms allow guests to indulge these passions at leisure. The flagstoned bar, diverse mix of timeworn furnishings and open-plan dining room create a civilised yet informal atmosphere; a crackling log fire ensures additional warmth for much of the year. Top notch beers from the likes of Purity wet the whistle; whilst fine food sleuths will be rewarded with a stylish menu drawing on local, seasonal produce as available. Kick in with duck liver parfait, rabbit and apricot ballotine, plum jam and toast; leaving room for mains ranging from pub classic fish and chips to modern dishes like pan-fried fillet of stone bass with polenta, kale and beetroot; or Stilton arancini, polenta chips, ratatouille and roast garlic.