Twelve of Britain's oldest pubs... that you can stay the night in

From a magical tavern that starred in a Harry Potter film to an inn with a GRAVESTONE in the floor of its restaurant: Twelve of Britain’s oldest pubs… that you can stay the night in

  • These ancient boozers are steeped in legend – one has a history that dates right back to the 6th century
  • The pub with a gravestone inside is said to be haunted by the ghost of the woman whose death it marks 
  • What all the pubs have in common is bags of character – and luxurious bedrooms, some five-star standard 
  • Don’t let a bland hotel blight your staycation break – book somewhere smothered in character instead. Like one of these ancient taverns. 

    Here we present 12 of the oldest pubs in Britain that you can stay the night in. 

    Our list of enchanting gems includes an ancient Wiltshire inn that appeared in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, a Cambridgeshire pub with an 11th-century gravestone in the floor of its restaurant and a boozer in Wales that you ‘fall off the world’ to reach. The list has been curated by accommodation website Stay in a Pub, which lists around 1,500 inns with rooms. Many of them are steeped in legend, but none more so than these historic boozers. 

    The Porch House, Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire

    The Porch House is located at 1 Digbeth Street in Stow-on-the-Wold - and there has been an inn on this spot since 947 AD, making the pub a contender for the oldest in England

    The Porch House is located at 1 Digbeth Street in Stow-on-the-Wold – and there has been an inn on this spot since 947 AD, making the pub a contender for the oldest in England 

    Stay In A Pub says that there are 13 'unique and charming bedrooms brimming with classic country charisma' at The Porch House

    Stay In A Pub says that there are 13 ‘unique and charming bedrooms brimming with classic country charisma’ at The Porch House

    The Porch House is located at 1 Digbeth Street in Stow-on-the-Wold – and there has been an inn on this spot since 947 AD, making the pub a contender for the oldest in England.

    Stay in a Pub says: ‘The Porch House is a historic inn split into two stylish parts. On one side is a traditional, whitewashed building that houses a stylish and formal restaurant, whilst on the other is a cosy, low-ceilinged pub, full of twisted beams and featuring a toasty open fireplace, as well as an elegant, light-filled pavilion extension.

    ‘The Porch House is renowned as one of finest places to eat locally, serving traditional British pub cuisine with sophisticated twists.’

    It adds that there are 13 ‘unique and charming bedrooms brimming with classic country charisma’.

    A room for two at The Porch House costs from £160 and includes breakfast. 

    The Highway Inn, Burford, Oxfordshire

    If you're in the market for a pub housed in a rambling old timber-and-stone building with original fireplaces, The Highway Inn, parts of which date back to 1400, will prove to be just the ticket

    If you’re in the market for a pub housed in a rambling old timber-and-stone building with original fireplaces, The Highway Inn, parts of which date back to 1400, will prove to be just the ticket 

    The Highway Inn has a 'splendid medieval courtyard', ales from Hook Norton Brewery, bedrooms with 'a whole host of little luxuries' and food on offer that includes fresh fish and chips

    The Highway Inn has a ‘splendid medieval courtyard’, ales from Hook Norton Brewery, bedrooms with ‘a whole host of little luxuries’ and food on offer that includes fresh fish and chips

    If you’re in the market for a pub housed in a rambling old timber-and-stone building with original fireplaces, The Highway Inn, parts of which date back to 1400, will prove to be just the ticket.

    Stay in a Pub notes that there’s also a ‘splendid medieval courtyard’, ales from Hook Norton Brewery, bedrooms with ‘a whole host of little luxuries’ and food on offer that includes fresh fish and chips. The homemade desserts, it adds, ‘are particularly popular with guests’.

    A room for two at The Highway Inn costs from £140 and includes breakfast. 

    The Bowl, Almondsbury, Bristol

    The lauded Bowl Inn sits in the picturesque village of Almondsbury, near Bristol, and has an intriguing history that dates back to the 12th century

    The lauded Bowl Inn sits in the picturesque village of Almondsbury, near Bristol, and has an intriguing history that dates back to the 12th century 

    A room for two at The Bowl Inn costs from £132.60 and includes breakfast

    A room for two at The Bowl Inn costs from £132.60 and includes breakfast 

    The lauded Bowl Inn sits in the picturesque village of Almondsbury, near Bristol, and has an intriguing history that dates back to the 12th century.

    The present building became a licensed inn in 1550, but it’s thought that part of it originally comprised three cottages constructed in 1146 as accommodation for monks working on the Church of St Mary next door. Thrillingly, there are said to be secret tunnels between these cottages, the church and the priory (now a farmhouse), built to offer the monks a way of escaping from marauding invaders.

    Overnight guests, says Stay in a Pub, are accommodated in ’12 luxurious bedrooms that come with bundles of charm’.

    Wondering about the name? It derives from the shape of the land surrounding the Severn Estuary, which can be seen from the pub. 

    A room for two at The Bowl Inn costs from £132.60 and includes breakfast. 

    Sign of the Angel, Lacock, Wiltshire

    The 15th-century Sign of the Angel in Lacock featured in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince as the Babberton Arms in the fictional village of Budleigh Babberton

    The 15th-century Sign of the Angel in Lacock featured in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince as the Babberton Arms in the fictional village of Budleigh Babberton

    Muggles will be delighted to hear that this pub is a magical place to stay, with five 'unique' bedrooms

    Muggles will be delighted to hear that this pub is a magical place to stay, with five ‘unique’ bedrooms 

    Sign of the Angel has a two-AA-rosette restaurant and a garden in which cream teas are served

    Sign of the Angel has a two-AA-rosette restaurant and a garden in which cream teas are served

    The spellbinding Wiltshire village of Lacock has made multiple appearances in several Harry Potter films.

    Its 13th-century abbey has been used for corridor scenes, Professor Snape’s potion room and Quirrell’s Defense Against the Dark Arts class, while three notable buildings in the village pop up in the movie franchise as locations in the fictional village of Budleigh Babberton.

    A quaint stone cottage was used as Harry’s parents’ house, a red-brick house there became Horace Slughorn’s abode in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and the 15th-century Sign of the Angel pub also featured in the film, as Budleigh Babberton’s Babberton Arms boozer. Professor Dumbledore and Harry walk right past it on their quest to persuade Slughorn to become the Hogwarts potions master.

    Muggles will be delighted to hear that this pub is a magical place to stay, with five ‘unique’ bedrooms that Stay in a Pub says are ‘packed with quirky features from architects of centuries past’. There’s also a two-AA-rosette restaurant and a garden in which cream teas are served.

    A room for two at Sign of the Angel costs from £120 and includes breakfast. 

    The Guy Fawkes Inn, York, North Yorkshire

    York's Guy Fawkes Inn occupies an early-Georgian terrace, but an older cottage behind - now part of the pub - lays good claim for being the birthplace of would-be revolutionary Guy Fawkes in 1570. This picture was taken by Kevin Bailey and posted to Flickr. Published courtesy of Creative Commons licensing

    York’s Guy Fawkes Inn occupies an early-Georgian terrace, but an older cottage behind – now part of the pub – lays good claim for being the birthplace of would-be revolutionary Guy Fawkes in 1570. This picture was taken by Kevin Bailey and posted to Flickr. Published courtesy of Creative Commons licensing

    The inn has an AA Rosette kitchen lit by candles and gas lamps and 13 en-suite bedrooms, six with four-poster beds

    The inn has an AA Rosette kitchen lit by candles and gas lamps and 13 en-suite bedrooms, six with four-poster beds 

    York’s Guy Fawkes Inn occupies an early-Georgian terrace, but an older cottage behind – now part of the pub – lays good claim for being the birthplace of would-be revolutionary Guy Fawkes in 1570.

    Fast forward to the present day and guests will find a pub full to the brim with character.

    There’s an AA Rosette kitchen lit by candles and gas lamps, and 13 en-suite bedrooms, six with four-poster beds and some with views of York’s Minster and St. Michael le Belfry Church, where Fawkes was baptised.

    A room for two at the Guy Fawkes Inn costs from £125. 

    The West Arms, Llangollen, Denbighshire

    The West Arms is 'perfectly situated in an idyllic setting in the scenic village of Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog in the foothills of the Berwyn Mountain'

    The West Arms is ‘perfectly situated in an idyllic setting in the scenic village of Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog in the foothills of the Berwyn Mountain’

    The pub has 16 bedrooms with 'unforgettable views', an award-winning restaurant and a history that dates back to the 16th century

    The pub has 16 bedrooms with ‘unforgettable views’, an award-winning restaurant and a history that dates back to the 16th century 

    This ‘charming and historic’ pub – which dates back to the 16th century, when it was a farmhouse for the landed gentry – has ‘bundles of character’ and is ‘perfectly situated in an idyllic setting in the scenic village of Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog in the foothills of the Berwyn Mountain’, says Stay in a Pub. 

    The drive there, according to the pub, will feel like ‘falling off the world’.

    Want to stay the night? There are 16 ‘characterful bedrooms with unforgettable views’ on offer, ranging from singles to ‘luxurious suites’. Fancy a meal there? The award-winning restaurant ‘serves only the freshest, locally sourced produce’ and a ‘wonderful cooked breakfast can be enjoyed in the cosy lounge, garden room or in the panoramic beer garden’.

    A room for two at The West Arms costs from £165 per night and includes breakfast. 

    The King’s Arms, Dorchester, Dorset

    The King Arm's, housed in a building that dates back to 1720, has strong ties to writer Thomas Hardy, who wrote much of The Mayor of Casterbridge there

    The King Arm’s, housed in a building that dates back to 1720, has strong ties to writer Thomas Hardy, who wrote much of The Mayor of Casterbridge there

    Visitors will find a 'gorgeous, inviting' bar, 'stunning restaurant', and bedrooms with 'super-comfortable beds', according to Stay in a Pub

    Visitors will find a ‘gorgeous, inviting’ bar, ‘stunning restaurant’, and bedrooms with ‘super-comfortable beds’, according to Stay in a Pub 

    Here’s an old pub with the write stuff.

    The King Arm’s, housed in a building that dates back to 1720, has strong ties to writer Thomas Hardy. He lived in Max Gate, a house on the outskirts of Dorchester, but the pub’s website notes that it’s believed he wrote much of The Mayor of Casterbridge at the pub, between 1883 and June 1885.

    The inn’s literary connections are further strengthened by Robert Louis Stephenson having stayed there in 1885 while visiting Hardy.

    Today’s visitors will find a ‘gorgeous, inviting’ bar, ‘stunning restaurant’, and bedrooms with ‘super-comfortable beds’, according to Stay in a Pub. 

    A room for two at The King’s Arms costs from £130 and includes breakfast.  

    The Bell, Ticehurst, East Sussex

    The Bell's history stretches right back to 1296. It was built in that year, says the pub's website, as a dwelling house connected to the church of St Mary the Virgin and home to monks who it's thought brewed ale

    The Bell’s history stretches right back to 1296. It was built in that year, says the pub’s website, as a dwelling house connected to the church of St Mary the Virgin and home to monks who it’s thought brewed ale 

    There are seven rooms, some with deep copper baths 'and all [with] sinfully comfortable kingsize or super-kingsize beds... with handmade Somnu mattresses'

    There are seven rooms, some with deep copper baths ‘and all [with] sinfully comfortable kingsize or super-kingsize beds… with handmade Somnu mattresses’ 

    The Bell’s history stretches right back to 1296. It was built in that year, says the pub’s website, as a dwelling house connected to the church of St Mary the Virgin and home – probably – to monks who practiced their faith at the church.

    When the house was sold many years later a brew-house was included in the inventory, so those monks may well have been the first to serve up ale on the site.

    By 1645, the building was a registered inn. And today it’s a pub that’s ‘warming, comfortable and with a hint of quirk’, according to Stay in a Pub.

    There are seven rooms, some with deep copper baths ‘and all [with] sinfully comfortable kingsize or super kingsize beds… with handmade Somnu mattresses’.

    A room for two at The Bell costs from £165.  

    The Three Blackbirds, Woodditton, Suffolk

    When The Three Blackbirds was built in Woodditton in 1642 the village, population 275, had 12 inns

    When The Three Blackbirds was built in Woodditton in 1642 the village, population 275, had 12 inns

    Stay for a drink and you can choose from 'an eclectic wine list and a great range of beers', stay the night and you can cosy-up in the barn in one of nine 'gorgeous contemporary bedrooms'

    Stay for a drink and you can choose from ‘an eclectic wine list and a great range of beers’, stay the night and you can cosy-up in the barn in one of nine ‘gorgeous contemporary bedrooms’ 

    When The Three Blackbirds was built in Woodditton in 1642 the village, population 275, had 12 inns.

    Now there’s just one very good one, and looking better than ever after a full refurbishment following a devastating fire in 2018.

    Stay in a Pub says: ‘Today it is filled with bundles of charm and personality, together with a few modern twists and bursts of colour.’

    Stay for a drink and you can choose from ‘an eclectic wine list and a great range of beers’, stay the night and you can cosy-up in the barn in one of nine ‘gorgeous contemporary bedrooms’ with rainfall showers in the bathrooms.

    A room for two at The Three Blackbirds costs from £157 and includes breakfast.  

    The Castle Inn, West Lulworth, Dorset

    The Grade II-listed Castle Inn is located in the pretty village of West Lulworth, mere minutes from breathtaking Lulworth Cove on the Jurassic Coast

    The Grade II-listed Castle Inn is located in the pretty village of West Lulworth, mere minutes from breathtaking Lulworth Cove on the Jurassic Coast 

    Guests can drink beer in the bar from the brewery that owns the pub, Bristol-based Butcombe Brewing, and sleep in '12 elegant bedrooms'

    Guests can drink beer in the bar from the brewery that owns the pub, Bristol-based Butcombe Brewing, and sleep in ’12 elegant bedrooms’ 

    The Grade II-listed Castle Inn is located in the pretty village of West Lulworth, mere minutes from breathtaking Lulworth Cove on the Jurassic Coast, deemed by Unesco to be of ‘outstanding universal value’.

    The thatched pub dates back to 1660, with Stay in a Pub declaring that the interiors are ‘beautiful’ and ‘cleverly celebrate the building’s heritage’ while meshing in ‘modern, chic touches’.

    Guests can drink beer in the bar from the brewery that owns the pub, Bristol-based Butcombe Brewing, and sleep in ’12 elegant bedrooms’.

    A room for two at The Castle Inn costs from £194 and includes breakfast. 

    The Old Ferry Boat, Huntington, Cambridgeshire

    The Old Ferry Boat Inn is one of Britain's oldest pubs - alcohol was reputedly sold on the site in the 6th century - and also one of the spookiest. It's said to be haunted by the ghost of a 17-year-old girl who committed suicide on March 17, 1050, heartbroken that her love for a local forester went unrequited

    The Old Ferry Boat Inn is one of Britain’s oldest pubs – alcohol was reputedly sold on the site in the 6th century – and also one of the spookiest. It’s said to be haunted by the ghost of a 17-year-old girl who committed suicide on March 17, 1050, heartbroken that her love for a local forester went unrequited 

    Stay in a Pub notes that there are seven 'spacious rooms... with bags of character' and 'hearty food served in the bar'

    Stay in a Pub notes that there are seven ‘spacious rooms… with bags of character’ and ‘hearty food served in the bar’ 

    The Old Ferry Boat Inn is one of Britain’s oldest pubs – alcohol was reputedly sold on the site in the 6th century – and also one of the spookiest.

    It’s said to be haunted by the ghost of a 17-year-old girl who committed suicide on March 17, 1050, heartbroken that her love for a local forester went unrequited.

    Her gravestone can be found in the bar, and it’s said that every March 17 she rises from the river nearby and floats towards her grave.

    Phantoms aside, Stay in a Pub notes that there are seven ‘spacious rooms… with bags of character’ and ‘hearty food served in the bar’.

    A room for two at The Old Ferry Boat costs from £68. 

    The Boat Inn, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire 

    The Boat Inn dates back to 1720

    The Boat Inn offers rooms with panoramic views of the River Dee and has a restaurant that sources ingredients from local suppliers

    The Boat Inn dates back to 1720 and offers rooms with panoramic views of the River Dee and a restaurant that sources ingredients from local suppliers

    The Boat Inn has stood on the banks of the River Dee since 1720 and has retained many original features, Stay in a Pub notes, such as exposed granite fireplaces and internal pine work.

    The inn has ‘eight stunning en-suite bedrooms, many with panoramic views of the River Dee’ and uses locally sourced ingredients in the restaurant from the likes of the Finzean Estate, Devenick Dairy and McWilliams Butchers.

    Rooms at The Boat Inn cost from £145. 

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