At the end of a day hiking in the mountains – listening to the soothing whispers of gentle streams and the satisfying crunch of golden leaves – there’s nothing lovelier than the crackle of an open fire and the glug of a freshly opened bottle of red, topped off with a baby-like sleep. Here are the historic hotels to experience it all: life’s simple pleasures, just as they should be.
1. Hotel & Restaurant Schwarzer Bock: Germany
You’re welcomed into Hotel & Restaurant Schwarzer Bock through an authentic historic tavern – all centuries-old oak floor, maplewood tables and benches, mixed in with modern elements such as Foscarini lamps. It’s a wonderful place to relax, dining on down-to-earth cuisine awarded by the SlowFood guide and Michelin for its sustainability and innovation. Ingredients don’t travel far to reach your plate – most of the inn’s organic produce is from its own hunting ground. Take a guided tour through the fully furnitured 18th-century residence, stroll through the blooming Margraves gardens, or explore the castles, villages, museums and shops in this picturesque part of the world. And when it’s time to fall into bed, take your pick from 17 modern rooms, each telling its own unique story about the history of this quaint countryside town.
2. Bushmills Inn: Northern Ireland
Sink into an armchair, grab a novel and smell the comforting crackle of an inglenook turf fire: Bushmills Inn is the epitome of country-inn cosiness. With traditional furnishings, wooden beams and charming antiques, it’s almost criminal not to stay the night. If you can peel yourself from the hayloft snug, get lost in a daydream in the village – home to the world’s oldest whiskey distillery, between the astonishing Giant’s Causeway and Royal Portrush Golf Club.
3. The Hand at Llanarmon: Wales
Staying over at The Hand at Llanarmon is like staying at a much-loved family friend’s home – a friend who whips up seriously divine (and award-winning) modern country cuisine. Guest rooms wouldn’t look out of place in a trendy London boutique – chic, soothing and sigh-inducing. But this is an inn entrenched in history and you can see it everywhere from the ancient beams to the Berwyn Mountains beyond.
4. Bear Hotel: Wales
Bear Hotel is a place where strangers become friends in an instant. Grab a nook, chuck on some firewood and let out a long deep breath – the kind of breath you can only take when in the quaintest serenity of the charming Brecon Beacons town, in a characterful inn dating back to the 19th century. Winner of the Good Pub Guide ‘Inn of the Year’ award in 2010, the Bear has been a hit with Johnny Depp, Robbie Williams and even the hard-to-please Gordon Ramsey.
5. Storsätra Fjällhotell: Sweden
Close your eyes and imagine a Swedish mountain hotel. Chances are you’ll see Storsätra Fjällhotell. This rustic, brick-red hideaway blends harmoniously into its wild landscape, which just so happens to be edging not one, but three national parks. After a stint in the wood-fired hot tub (or for hardier souls, the crystal-clear waters of the Grövlan river), there’s nothing more soul-nourishing than a fish supper, glass of wine, and the soft flicker of a cosy hearth.