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The village locals in Ellastone don't know how lucky they are to have such a smart foodie pub on their doorstep, says Kirsten Price...
Tom Parker Bowles, Camilla’s son and Mail on Sunday critic, described this pub with rooms as ‘the local we all wished we had’, and it’s hard to disagree. Log fires and cosy corners in the public areas; 10 stylishly decorated bedrooms in the new annexe, Walnut House; and chef Jake Boyce working wonders in the kitchen with locally sourced, traditional ingredients cooked with flair.
Nestled on the edge of Staffordshire and Derbyshire, just five miles from the market town of Ashbourne, The Duncombe Arms is close enough to the Peak District for those who never travel without their walking boots. It’s also a few miles from Alton Towers, if your thrills are more spectacular in nature. Those with a penchant for antiques will enjoy browsing the streets of Ashbourne, and keen historians and gardeners will want to visit beautiful Chatsworth House with its estate inspired by landscape architect Capability Brown.
The owners of The Duncombe Arms, Johnny and Laura Greenall, renovated the dilapidated historic property after realising that there was a family connection. Laura’s mother revealed that the pub’s name was related to her maiden name and the family crest was on the sign outside. You can also visit the Greenall’s spectacular garden at the Wootton Hall Estate, where there is also a gorgeous three-bedroom Garden Cottage that can be rented for a larger group.
Voted one of the best dining pubs in the country, with awards from the Michelin Guide, The Good Pub Guide and more, dinner here is something to look forward to. We particularly enjoyed the rump of Staffordshire lamb with miso-glazed carrot and caramelised onion, and my husband Steve’s 36-day dry-aged ribeye was absolutely delicious. There is also a talented pastry chef who creates perfect puddings, such as the chocolate delight – that’s five different types of chocolate dessert with three sauces that complement them.
From Bamford toiletries and automatic lighting in the bathroom to USB points by the bedside table, all the details in our room were well thought through. I particularly liked our artisan wallpaper – there is a different one in each room – and the well-selected art, which is curated by a gallery in London. This might not just be the local we wish we had... it might be the home we wish we had, too!
How to book
Rooms at The Duncombe Arms start from £170 per night, including breakfast. A self-catered, three-bedroom cottage is available for £300 per night. Visit duncombearms.co.uk for more info.