The Fleece Inn in Worcestershire has been named the best pub in Britain for 2019 – which considering the number of pubs Britain has, is a rather significant accolade.
The honour was bestowed upon it by the prestigious Bristol-based travel guide Sawday’s, which specialises in finding special places to stay and eat at. The Fleece Inn scored top marks for its ‘cosy’ atmosphere, ‘vast array of local beers and cider’ and ‘gutsy, hearty’ food offering.
Other gongs were handed out for the following categories: best pub with rooms, best community pub, best pub for families, best newcomer, best pub for food and most authentic pub. Scroll down to discover the winners, which are also described in Sawday’s newly-released Great British Pub Guide, which rounds up 500 of the best pubs in England, Wales and Scotland.
Pub of the year: The Fleece Inn, Worcestershire
The Fleece Inn in Worcestershire has been named the best pub in Britain by prestigious travel guide Sawday’s
The pub’s cosy atmosphere was given a thumbs up by judges, with open fireplaces and worn stone floors setting the mood
The judges declared that this historic 15th-century farmhouse-turned-country-pub in Bretforton, near Evesham, was a ‘deserving winner’.
It scored top marks for its ‘cosy’ atmosphere, complete with two fireplaces, three ‘dimly-lit bars’ and worn flagstone floors.
On the drinks front, the pub’s ‘vast array of local beers and cider’ got the thumbs up, as did its ‘gutsy, hearty’ food offering. Landlord Nigel Smith was also commended for his ‘welcoming, laid-back’ approach.
Lunch & dinner from £8.75. Bar meals from £5.25. Dinner from £8.75. Call 01386 831173.
Best newcomer: The Culm Valley Inn, Devon
The Culm Valley Inn in Devon took home a gong for being the best newcomer after it changed ownership
Judges noted that the pub is ‘jam-packed with quirky finds’, with owner Dave having a passion for antiques
Judges raised a glass to this pub in Culmstock and its ‘heartening’ transformation.
Owner Dave – described as a ‘third-generation antiques magpie’ – went about turning the venue into ‘a celebration of all things different and bizarre’.
Pub-goers are told to expect a venue ‘jam-packed with quirky finds’ and a bar offering a ‘surprising range of microbrew beers, rare spirits and specialist French wines served with lively charm’.
Starters from £6. Lunch from £8. Mains from £11.50. Rooms for two from £85 per night. Call 01884 840354.
Best community pub: The Eagle & Child, Lancashire
At The Eagle & Child in Lancashire disadvantaged young local people are trained to work in the kitchen or behind the bar
The interiors of the Lancashire pub, which proves to be a popular hub for the community
This Lancashire pub, in Ramsbottom, was given top marks for helping to spread good cheer.
Landlord Glen has a background in community regeneration and he trains disadvantaged young local people to work in the kitchen or behind the bar. He has also transformed a former waste ground into a beer garden, which is described by judges as a ‘fabulous space for education, food production, drinking and dining’.
The venue’s new orangery also left an impression, with floor-to-ceiling windows offering ‘splendid views’.
Starters from £4.25. Lunch from £5.95. Dinner from £12.95. Rooms for two from £75 per night. Call 01706 557181.
Most authentic pub: The Griffin, Pembrokeshire
There is a stone sea wall in front of The Griffin, which is humorously known as the ‘longest bar in Pembrokeshire’
The judges recommend grabbing a local ale, such as Tenby Harbwr’s North Star or Tomos Watkin’s Cwrw Haf, when visiting the harbour-side venue
What you see is what you get at this traditional harbour-side pub in Dale, Haverfordwest, which was lauded for its ‘authentic’ approach.
There is a stone sea wall in front of the venue used by pub-goers who spill outside to admire the views that is humorously known as the ‘longest bar in Pembrokeshire’.
The judges recommend grabbing a local ale, such as a pint of Tenby Harbwr’s North Star or Tomos Watkin’s Cwrw Haf, and venturing out to ‘watch the day’s catch being unloaded from responsible day boats’.
Starters from £5.95. Mains from £9.25. Call 01646 636 227.
Best pub for families: The Lister Arms at Malham, Yorkshire
The Lister Arms at Malham was once a 17th-century coaching inn and home to the first Lord of Ribblesdale
Judges say it’s a great family spot with a ‘brilliant’ children’s menu. Work it all off with a family walk in the ‘gorgeous’ Yorkshire Dales area after
Stuck finding somewhere serving up fun for all the family?
This Yorkshire pub, which was once a 17th-century coaching inn and home to the first Lord of Ribblesdale, is great for kids, say the judges, who can ‘charge around the village green’ at the front, or ‘play pooh sticks in the gentle stream’ nearby.
Another winning feature for the panel is the ‘brilliant’ children’s menu. Work it all off with a family walk in the ‘gorgeous’ Yorkshire Dales area after.
Breakfast from £5. Lunch from £8. Dinner from £12. Sunday lunch £13.50. Rooms for two from £80 per night. Call 01729 830444.
Best pub with rooms: The Mason Arms, Oxfordshire
Picturesque: The Mason Arms in Oxfordshire doubles as a hotel and pub
The pub’s design is described as a ‘cool take on all things retro with quirky art and a little neon mixed in for good measure’. Above, a peek inside the pub’s impressive ‘stable suite’
Looking for a room at the inn? The judges gave top marks to this Witney, Oxfordshire, pub – which doubles as a hotel.
They praised the inn’s ‘super-stylish’ design, which is described as being a ‘cool take on all things retro with quirky art and a little neon mixed in for good measure’ and ‘stunning bedrooms’.
Rates start from £140 per night for two people and there are a number of rooms to choose from, including the ‘farmhouse loft’ and ‘stable suite’.
Starters from £6. Lunch from £6.50. Mains from £11. Call 01993 656238.
Best pub for food: The Wellington Arms, Hampshire
This ‘cosy and relaxed’ Hampshire pub won a gong for its fine food offering
The judges note that the inn has become ‘a place of pilgrimage for foodies’ thanks to its commitment to local sourcing
An example of the fancy fodder pub-goers can enjoy at The Wellington Arms
This ‘cosy and relaxed’ Hampshire pub, in Baughurst, won a gong for its fine food offering – so no soggy chips or tough cuts of lacklustre meat here. The judges note that the inn has become ‘a place of pilgrimage for foodies’ thanks to its commitment to local sourcing and appetising daily menus.
They say: ‘Try home-reared lamb, rabbit terrine, home-grown veg and honey from the hives.’
The pub has a small holding that harbours seven little pigs, nine woolly sheep, a few bees and almost 100 assorted hens.
The judges warn to book ahead, as the newly extended bar-dining room tends to fill quickly.
Set lunch £15.75 and £18.75. Dinner £11-£21. Call 0118 9820110.
SAWDAY’S BEST BRITISH PUB AWARDS 2019
Pub of the Year: The Fleece Inn, Worcestershire
Runners up: The Ring of Bells, Devon, and The Compasses Inn, Kent
Best Newcomer: The Culm Valley Inn, Devon
Runners up: The Miller of Mansfield, Berkshire, and The Black Lion, Suffolk
Best Community Pub: The Eagle & Child, Lancashire
Runners up: The Crown, Sussex, and The One Bull, Suffolk
Most Authentic Pub: The Griffin, Pembrokeshire
Runners up: The White Horse, Buckinghamshire, and The Blue Ball Inn, Cambridgeshire
Best Pub for Families: The Lister Arms at Malham, Yorkshire
Runners up: The Merry Harriers, Surrey, and The Inn at Freshford, Bath
Best Pub with Rooms: The Mason Arms, Oxfordshire
Runners up: The Sheppey Inn, Somerset, and Meikleour Arms, Perth and Kinross
Best Pub for Food: The Wellington Arms, Hampshire
Runners up: St Tudy Inn, Cornwall, and The George, Staffordshire
Sawday’s Great British Pub Guide is now available in all good bookshops, rrp £14.99