Hotel chains have their place in the scheme of things, but nothing beats the service and hospitality that you will receive when you book a stay in an English pub.
A Great British Tradition
The French have a reputation for their cafe culture, while the Americans are renowned for their ‘fast food joints’, but for the English the pub is the social hub of a community, where people come to relax, unwind and share food and drink with friends and family.
The word ‘pub’ is short for the phrase ‘public house’, whose meaning is clear. This is a place for the people, by the people, where everyone is welcome to stop and refresh themselves for a while. And if the pub has rooms attached, so much the better! Now you can stay for longer and take time to enjoy the local scenery, meet the locals and learn a little about the local history of where you are staying. It’s a much more immersive experience than a stay in a corporate room in a chain hotel, where there is no real connection to the part of the country that you are staying in.
The Role of the Coaching Inn
Long before the internal combustion had even been dreamed of, horses were the only means of transport through the English countryside. Stagecoaches allowed people to undertake long journeys, pulled by teams of horses as they traversed the length and breadth of the British Isles, but it was impossible for a team of horses to travel indefinitely without stopping for food, water and rest.
Coaching inns developed to deal with the problem. Horses could be stabled overnight or exchanged for a fresh team, while the weary travellers made use of the opportunity to refresh themselves, have a meal and spend a few hours relaxing and catching up on much-needed sleep.
Today the stagecoaches and horses no longer roll up to the coaching inns dotted throughout the towns and countryside, but many of the old inns still remain, only now they are catering for a different sort of traveller. Whether you are undertaking a long journey or spending some time exploring the best that Britain has to offer, you will still find a friendly welcome, great food, plenty of refreshments and a comfortable bed for the night.
Many former coaching inns and ancient hostelries are now owned by private individuals who are consumed by a passion to provide excellent service to their customers. Unlike the big hotel chains, where individuality is cast aside in favour of a corporate identity, these pub owners can plough their own furrows, creating warm and welcoming places where you are guaranteed a level of individual service that hotels can never achieve.
Every English Pub Is Unique
When you book an overnight stay at an English pub, you can be assured of the warmest welcome, often with a blazing log fire burning in the hearth, while you relax in comfort, sipping a drink as you make your selection from a carefully crafted menu. With no corporate branding to worry about, innkeepers are free to make their own decisions about the drinks and food they serve, often working to ensure that local produce features on their menus.
Just check out georgeanddragon.com to see how the chefs create daily menus based on locally sourced produce. Hotel chains simply don’t have that kind of flexibility. Nor can they provide all the little touches that add real value to an overnight stay, such as fresh flowers in the bedrooms and an ability to cope with unusual dietary requirements.
The owners of traditional English pubs understand only too well that they need to work hard to attract and retain customers. They can’t move sideways within an organisation to sidestep issues – they have to step up to the plate to ensure that every single customer is treated like a King (or Queen). Individually styled bedrooms, often decorated with items made locally, give your holiday or short break that unique feeling that you simply won’t achieve staying in a standard hotel.
Where else can you spend time in front of a roaring fire, soaking up the local history and learning about local customs? Before you know it, you’ll be chatting with the locals, discovering off-the-beaten-track places to visit that no guide book could ever hope to discover and learning about your surroundings and how to make the most of your time exploring them. At the end of a hard day’s sightseeing, hiking, biking or just pottering through the countryside, you know that you can relax in total comfort, where the host’s sole aim is your happiness and contentment. You can enjoy a drink with your meal before climbing the stairs to stretch out in your comfortable bed, ready for what the next day will bring.