The Olde Bell
Tucked down a cul-de-sac between Maidenhead and Henley, the village of Hurley is the Thames-side bolthole of many a stockbroker’s daydream, all weathered Tudor piles and weeping willows. At its heart is this 12th-century coaching inn, refurbished in 2010 by design maven Ilse Crawford in the shabby chic mode.Downstairs, a crackling fire warms a proper pub bar (where couples nurse pints over games of Scrabble), and beyond it a handsome restaurant looks out through leaded windows onto clipped lawns, a kitchen garden and a tennis court. Apart from the raucous parakeets in the trees, it would be hard to imagine a more English idyll. Spread across five buildings – the main inn, plus assorted barns and a malthouse – the rooms vary considerably in size and feel (the pick of the bunch are rooms 2, 9 and 10). At the top end, you’ll find king-sized beds, Ercol rocking chairs, freestanding baths, a Roberts digital radio – plus a red anglepoise lamp I’m sure I last saw illuminating my Lego technics collection in the mid-1980s. The beams sag and the floorboards are wonky and scuffed (as is some of the furniture), but it all adds to a homely and nostalgic atmosphere. The five-mile local ‘Willow Walk’ loops along a lovely stretch of the Thames and through ivy-draped woodland – beware the hotel's walk leaflet, though, which sends you off in completely the wrong direction…
PriceDoubles from £139.
The Olde Bell, High Street Hurley Berkshire SL6 5LX
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