An example of one of the very best local dining pubs with accommodation is the Cow at Dalbury Lees, one of a handful of impressive properties from Berkeley Inns. Not too long ago a night at an English pub was something to be studiously avoided. Most likely it would mean being consigned to a stuffy room up a back staircase, and a breakfast at a pub table with a whiff of stale beer.
Things are now hugely improved with regular openings of stylishly refurbished properties offering fine dining and impeccable facilities. The Cow at Dalbury Lees, from Berkeley Inns is one of a small chain of exquisite boutique accommodation and dining pubs in and around the Derbyshire Peak District.
The white-painted Cow at Dalbury Lees, sitting on the village green, only opened its doors just over a year ago, but retains the atmosphere of a real ‘local’. It is a big compliment to say that such a recent conversion has created a homely and cosy spot where everyone, local or tourist, will immediately feel at home.
Under atmospheric lighting, there are mis-matched scrubbed wooden tables and old chairs whilst crackling log fires burn at either end of the main room. Vintage pictures and mirrors are grouped on the walls, and nods to the bovine theme are provided by touches like milk churn bar stools.
Upstairs the twelve bedrooms are all spectacular, and could grace any 5* hotel. A feel for the Dales and the country setting is provided by plenty of traditional materials with walls of rough-hewn planks or stone supporting the historic beams. Our own room had darker woods and fabrics but some others are in a paler ‘New England’ or even more gothic Victorian style.
There are cast iron radiators, solid wood doors and wooden floors whilst lamps may be industrial style metal or polished copper. Generous heavyweight curtains accompany real wool throws that lie over comfy beds fitted with Egyptian cotton.
The Cow at Dalbury Lees bathrooms are equally extravagant and stylish with stone tiled walls and black basalt basins that sit on chunky solid wood cabinets. Rooms have rainforest showers, deep baths, or sometimes both. Classy Molton Brown products, heavyweight towels and monogrammed robes complete a luxurious picture.
The inclusive breakfast is from a modest buffet with an interesting range of cooked extras like poached Finnan haddock or eggs florentine.
Lunch and evenings, the menu is modest and mostly oriented towards casual dining. Organised around snack plates, larger sharing plates and flatbreads, there are well-priced choices like turkey & cranberry sausage rolls, potato scones with wilted spinach & poached egg or butternut & blue cheese gnocchi.
This is better than average pub grub, intentionally informal due to the relatively small number of tables available. The fine dining option is however catered for by another Berkeley Inn, The Horsehoes, handily located nearby in Long Lane Village. Cow at Dalbury Lees‘s own ‘London’ taxi conveniently provides the transport.
It goes without saying that this is a perfect spot from which to explore the glorious countryside of the Peak District, and the historic houses like Chatsworth. Then again you may just find yourself venturing out from the cosy firesides at the Cow at Dalbury Lees somewhat less than expected.
For more information visit www.cowdalbury.com
The Horsehoes at Long Lane – www.horseshoeslonglane.co.uk
Cock Inn Mugginton – www.cockinnmugginton.com
Bluebell at Kirk Langley – www.bluebellkirklangley.com
Meynell Ingram Arms – www.meynellingram.co.uk