The Crown Inn, 16 High St, Amersham, Buckinghamshire, England
Now. I like a bit of ye olde English grub as much as the next person. But this place takes it to a whole, scrumptious new level. Sister to the enormously successful Old Bell in Hurley, the Crown is part of a clutch of revamped 16th-century timber-framed coaching inns that specialise in top-notch English food and ales in traditional surroundings. At lunch and in the evening, Rosie Sykes’s menu flies the flag for old British faves such as beef and Guinness pie, Welsh rarebit, parsnip and apple soup, and rhubard Eton mess. In the morning, a hearty breakfast of rustic bread, unctuous home-made jams and chunks of Cornish yarg will well and truly set you up for the day. Everything is served on pewter plates at long wooden tables in front of open fires, and the dishes are rustic and filling. It’s like medieval dining has been whipped into 21st-century shape – that’s how I like it.
Interiorswise, designer Ilse Crawford (Soho House, New York) has the old-meets-new British look down to a tee – exposed beams, inglenook fireplaces and creaky floorboards. Welsh wool blankets are draped over mismatched chairs, and bright-red Roberts radios stand next to piles of Penguin classics. Our room (number 12) had a humungous shower room, and boasted a mural that dates back to 1550, when the hotel served as a pit-stop at the end of a long day’s carriage ride from London. I’m told it’s been registered at the British Museum. For more contemporary history buffs, the room out the back is where Hugh Grant wooed Andie MacDowell in Four Weddings And A Funeral. I can verify that it is pretty much unchanged. How’s that for romance?
Now a more palatable 45 minutes on the Metropolitan line, The Crown not only showcases British hostelry at its finest, but is possibly one of the best Friday night commutes you’ll ever have.
The deets: The Crown Inn, 16 High St, Amersham, Buckinghamshire, UK (01494 721541; http://www.thecrownamersham.co.uk).
The damage: Doubles from £130 per night, including breakfast.
Foodie diversion: Old Amersham high street has a wealth of atmospheric eateries. Our favourite is the Artichoke (01494 726611; www.theartichokerestaurant.co.uk)
Come here for: A break from the city, top nosh, and a dip into British literary history (the Roald Dahl museum and Enid Blyton’s house are up the road).