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The Cow, Dalbury Lees, Peak District
Despite being only six miles from the centre of Derby, The Cow is so out of the way that you'd never stumble across it by accident. Plenty of people make a special point of coming here, though, lured by its growing reputation as a gastro pub and boutique country inn. The outside looks promising (smart white-painted façade, hanging baskets, village-green location) and the inside backs it up. The cosy bar feels instantly welcoming and following a corridor lined with large bovine portraits leads to rustic-chic bedrooms that don't stint on the luxuries. The owners spent many years travelling abroad and wanted to create here the home-from-home feel and chic in characterful rooms unlike those they found in corporate chain hotels. Mission accomplished.
Wandering down the road from the pub, you'll find a house with a sign offering home-made honey for sale within.
Derby, with its museums and art galleries, is only a 20-minute drive away.
By car: around 1 hour 10 minutes from Sheffield, 1 hour 20 minutes from Birmingham and 3 hours from London. There is free parking on site.
By train: direct trains run to Derby from Sheffield Station (30 minutes), Birmingham New Street (45 minutes) and London St Pancras (1 hour 20 minutes). The hotel is around a 20-minute taxi ride from Derby Station. thetrainline.com
Style & Character
Peak District visitors in search of chic boutique style and business travellers looking for an alternative to corporate chains will love the Cow. The quirky bar stools, made from old tractor seats set atop milk churns, are far more comfortable than they look.
Service & Facilities
Despite the rural setting, the technology is all up to date, so there's free high-speed WiFi and smart TVs. Dogs are very welcome, both in the bar (where you'll find water bowls and dog biscuits) and in some of the bedrooms.
- Pet friendly
- Free Wi-Fi
- Free parking
The bathrooms are very smart, with Molton Brown toiletries and diffusers, black basalt basins, underfloor heating and monogrammed white waffle robes. We love Rooms 3, 4 and 5, which all have French windows that open on to a private patio and the kitchen garden.
Facilities include: locally-made, hand-crafted premium mattresses, 300ct Egyptian cotton linen, ensuite bathroom with lightweight waffle bathrobes and Molton Brown toiletries, smart TV, free Wi-Fi, tea and coffee-making facilities
Food & Drink
The kitchen aims to source most of its ingredients within a 30-mile radius, so you get good local meat, vegetables and dairy produce. Meat-eaters fare best: the braised ox cheek is delicious and the ham hock Scotch egg with chutney is a perennial favourite.
Restaurant: convivial atmosphere, refined - but hearty - gastropub food. Open Mon-Fri 12-3pm, Mon-Sat 5-8pm, Sun 12-8pm. Dinner mains from £11.95.