Written by Marie Kreft
Shrewsbury & Mid Shropshire
Brompton Farmhouse B&B Brompton SY5 6LE; 01743 761629; www.bromptonfarmhouse.co.uk. Located on the old Attingham estate (see Attingham Park, managed by the National Trust) just three miles from Shrewsbury is this early 19th-century farmhouse offering clean, light and elegant B&B accommodation. As well as two double (can be twin) rooms, each with bath and shower en suites, there’s a family suite with double and adjoining triple room with shared bathroom. The B&B is licensed with an extensive wine list – and you can be sure the Shropshire breakfast will be superb, as Brompton’s owned by celebrity chef Marcus Bean and his family. Just a few steps away from the farmhouse is Brompton Cookery School, which has facilities for Marcus and visiting chefs to teach up to 16 people at a time in a variety of courses.
Ferndell Bed & Breakfast 14 Underdale Rd, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury SY2 5DL. Just ten minutes’ walks from Shrewsbury town centre is the lovely Victorian home of Sarah and Stuart and their young family. Here, at Ferndell Bed & Breakfast, you can stay in one of two spacious en-suite bedrooms (a double and a twin), enjoying Sarah’s homemade chocolate cake upon arrival and an AGA-cooked breakfast in the morning, complete with bacon and sausages from a local butcher. Ferndell hosts creative workshops in its sunny kitchen, in disciplines that include torn paper collages (see the dreamy technique of Shropshire artist Lyn Evans), silver clay and photography. New for 2016 is a monthly Sunday night supper club.
The Old Station Leaton near Bomere Heath SY4 3AP; 01939 290905; www.theoldstationshropshire.co.uk. The Old Station is exactly that: a former railway station, built in 1847, and now offering a characterful place to stay within ten minutes’ drive of Shrewsbury. It’s also on the Shrewsbury to Oswestry bus route and therefore ideal for a few car-free days spent exploring mid and northwest Shropshire. Rated a four-star B&B by the AA, the Old Station has six en-suite guest bedrooms (twin, double, triple and quad available), each named after Great Western Railway steam engines. The ground-floor Clive of India room is accessible for guests who use wheelchairs. Breakfast and pre-ordered evening meals are served in the dining room, once the station waiting room, while the guest sitting room used to be the booking office. When the weather is fair you can sit outside on the old platform.
The Isle Estate Isle Lane, Bicton SY3 8EE; 01743 851218; www.the-isle-estate.co.uk. Four miles from Shrewsbury and set in a bow of the River Severn, the Isle Estate at Bicton is an excellent place to holiday with your horse, thanks to livery and a thousand-acre cross-country course with plenty of natural fences (hard-standing parking and a route card are available). It’s also a luxurious B&B for anyone, described in one visitor review as ‘affordably decadent’. Owners Ros and Edward Tate suggest that the finest of their three guest rooms is the White and Blue room, with views over the park, but all three rooms are renowned for their deluxe furnishings, restful décor and mixture of tasteful antiques and modern comforts. Breakfast and pre-ordered evening meals are taken in the oak-panelled dining room, with many ingredients locally sourced or, better still, picked from the estate’s organic walled garden. There is much to discover in the vast grounds, including walks around the ten-acre kettle lake which lies behind the house.
Wenlock Edge Riding Centre B&B Hughley SY5 6NT; 01746 785645; www.millfarmridingcentre.co.uk. In the south of this region, brushing up against Wenlock Edge, you can take riding lessons, own a pony for a day or take your own horse on a guided hack or a ride out with a pub lunch (for you!). With three rooms (one with a four-poster bed), Wenlock Edge Riding Centre B&B allows you to holiday with your horse. The site, Mill Farm, also has a caravan park for tents and touring caravans, which has been awarded gold in the David Bellamy Conservation Award scheme – the highest possible ranking.
Lion & Pheasant Hotel 49-50 Wyle Cop, Shrewsbury SY1 1XJ; 01743 770345; www.lionandpheasant.co.uk. Widely regarded to provide the best fine-dining restaurant experience in Shrewsbury, the menu at the Lion & Pheasant is always exciting and makes clever use of the season’s freshest produce. This central Shrewsbury venue is also an AA-rated three-star hotel, with 22 individually styled, comfortably appointed rooms and the promise of an excellent breakfast in the morning. For best value, look out for dinner, bed and breakfast deals. There are also a few central Shrewsbury self-catering options managed by the Lion & Pheasant: see the website for more details.
The White Horse Pulverbatch SY5 8DS; 01743 718247; www.thewhitehorseinnpulverbatch.co.uk. One of many country pubs flying the flag for Shropshire produce and real ale, the White Horse in Pulverbatch is popular with both locals and walkers so you’re advised to book ahead for a table. The Arriva bus 546 from Shrewsbury stops conveniently outside this warm 15th-century inn. Three recently refurbished, en-suite rooms (a single, double and twin) are available on a B&B basis – and you can enjoy a full English breakfast complete with local bacon, sausages and black pudding in the morning. If you’re heading out walking, packed lunches and laundry services are available. There’s also space for caravans and motorhomes to park outside, for just a few pounds per night.
Drapers Hall 10 St Mary’s Place, Shrewsbury SY1 1DZ; 01743 344679. The Shrewsbury Guild of Drapers was a powerful guild indeed, existing since at least 1204 and incorporated by Royal Charter in 1462. One of its many legacies is Drapers Hall, a distinctive timber-framed building (completed in 1576) near to St Mary’s Church. The guild, now known as Shrewsbury Drapers Co, still occupies the hall today, but on the ground floor and upstairs are a fine-dining restaurant (with two AA-rosette yet unpretentious food and a great bar) and boutique bedrooms, rich in comfort and original character.
The Golden Cross 14 Princess St, Shrewsbury SY1 1LP; 01743 362507; www.goldencrosshotel.co.uk. Even if the food weren’t great at this upscale Shrewsbury inn, it would still provide an atmospheric hideaway for a drink – and indeed the Golden Cross has been keeping the townspeople watered for almost 700 years. Luckily, the posh pub food matches the stylish ambience, taking the best produce from the region and indeed the current season. The Golden Cross is also a boutique hotel with five bedrooms, each one styled to bring out the best of the building’s medieval character while remaining supremely comfortable.
Porterhouse SY1 15 St. Mary’s St, Shrewsbury SY1 1EQ; 01743 358870; www.porterhousesy1.co.uk. One of Shrewsbury’s cooler venues, Porterhouse SY1 serves cocktails and modern British dining ‘with an American twist’: think handmade burgers, chicken wings, steaks, and BBQ ribs cooked low’n’slow. As much as possible is sourced locally or even made in house, including the burger buns (kneaded and baked fresh each morning) and relishes, dips and ketchup. The accommodation here consists of four en-suite rooms (one is a suite), rated five-star B&B standard by the AA.
Caro’s Cottage 1 Higher Netley, Dorrington SY5 7JY; 01244 345700; www.caroscottage.co.uk. You would need a car for a stay at Caro’s Cottage, as it’s tucked away down country lanes in Higher Netley near Dorrington (between Shrewsbury and Church Stretton, and a short drive from the delightful Old Hall Persian restaurant). The warm and kind owner Caro, who lives in a separate part of the medieval house, used to run this place as a B&B but has recently installed a small but well-equipped kitchen so guests can come and go as they please. Evening meals and freshly made ready meals can be ordered in advance from Caro’s talented neighbour. There are two comfortable king-size double bedrooms, both en suite with blackout blinds for a perfect sleep. Downstairs is a cosy living area with woodburner.
Haymakers Cottage Minsterley SY5 0HG; 01743 891412; www.gleaningscentre.co.uk/holiday-cottage. Located on a 14-acre organic farm with views of the arrestingly beautiful Stiperstones, Haymakers was once a cow byre and calf shed; now it’s a romantic studio-style cottage for two. The accommodation is all on one level so it would be ideal for guests with mobility needs. You can buy the farm’s own goat milk and free-range eggs while you’re staying.
The farm is also home to the Gleanings Centre, a converted barn looking out over haymeadows, which can be hired for rehearsals, parties and other social events.
The Old Police Cells 4 The Old Police Station, Swan Hill, Shrewsbury SY1 1NN; 01743 272544; www.theoldpolicecells.co.uk. This serviced apartment in central Shrewsbury (sleeping two, available as a twin or double) is housed in a former police station, built in 1900. While the feature brick walls, barrelled ceilings and cell doors are authentic, owners Ann and Mark Johnson have taken pains to ensure comfort and a contemporary feel contribute most to the ambience. No pets and currently no Wi-Fi. Despite being on the ground floor, the quirky nature of the apartment means it wouldn’t be suitable for guests with mobility needs. Complimentary off-road parking is available, although not by the property itself.
Pitchford Estate Three sites near Pitchford; 0870 5851155 (bookings); www.pitchfordestate.com. Enjoy a luxurious self-catering holiday with access to 1,000 acres of private Shropshire countryside. So secluded that it was identified as one of the places the royal family could have been evacuated to during World War II, Pitchford Estate is a dairy, sheep, arable and solar farm with extensive woodland, six miles south of Shrewsbury. There you can hide away in a stunning, sensitively converted barn: Windy Mundy Farm (an 18th-century former threshing barn) sleeps 16, Stockbatch Granary sleeps 14 (with a bonus shepherd’s hut outside for adventurous guests) and Tree House Barn is for up to four people. The latter has views of what is believed to be the oldest tree house in the world: the magical-looking black and white Pitchford tree house, designed in the same style as Pitchford Hall, dates from the 17th century and was visited by Queen Victoria.
Pitchford Estate is part of Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship scheme which aims to improve habitats and increase species biodiversity. Income from lettings is invested in preserving the historic listed buildings on the estate.