England

Top hotels in the Forest of Dean for a cosy weekend break

Proudly owned by locals, these top hotels in the Forest of Dean come with the added advantage of an insider’s knowledge.

Start the day with a full English of bacon and sausages from local farms and find out from your host where woodland scenes from Harry Potter were filmed. For your own magical experience, spend an afternoon wandering along the woodland sculpture trail and witness a stained-glass window ‘Cathedral’ hanging between the trees.

Return to your hotel for freshly baked scones with clotted cream in front of a crackling fire. Our selection of stays can even offer you a taste of the region without you needing to leave the bar as their ales and ciders are brewed only a couple of miles away.

A luxurious top hotel in the Forest of Dean set in a working farm

Nestled in 14 acres of ancient grasslands, Tudor Farmhouse is a boutique retreat designed as a luxury home-away-from-home. You’ll find its idyllic surrounds hidden in the sweeping wild lands of the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley. Its stone buildings are hugged by paddocks and fields where ponies, sheep, chickens and ducks graze and wander. Explore the grounds yourself and discover the old orchard where 50 new trees have been planted and will bloom with Gloucestershire varieties of apples and pears, sweet plums, damsons and quince for farmhouse jams. There’s also a kitchen garden where vegetables and herbs are grown and proudly served in the restaurant.

Award-winning head chef Rob Cox – named 2017’s south-west chef of the year – creates a menu around seasonal produce and locally sourced ingredients. Passionate about home-cooked yet memorable meals, Cox is committed to working with like-minded suppliers within a 20-mile radius of the hotel, ensuring everything is as fresh as possible – and delicious, too. Fuel up before hiking through the forest with a hearty full English breakfast and dishes like smoked salmon with scrambled eggs, or, reward yourself with an afternoon tea of home-made cakes and warm scones with clotted cream on your muddy-booted return. On chilly evenings, get cosy in the stone-walled dining room with a crackling wood-burner and dine on fare including River Severn-smoked eel and caviar followed by slow-roasted Gloucester Old Spot pork belly from nearby Cowhill Farm. Having trouble deciding what to order? Foodies can try several of the chef’s favourite dishes with a tasting menu, which can be accompanied by a flight of five hand-picked wines – including ones from Tintern Parva Vineyard on the banks of the Wye.

Rooms at the hotel have been lovingly converted to capture the spirit of the former working farm with neutral and chic grey tones, bare wood and exposed stone walls. This is combined with cosy patterned textiles to add a homely feel alongside luxuries like Nespresso coffee machines. Sink into your bed that’s covered in 300-count cotton linens and fluffy duck feather pillows and duvets. After long walks, soak for a while in a vintage-style roll top bath or drench yourself beneath a monsoon shower. If you’re travelling with your four-legged friend, ask to book one of the hotel’s dog-friendly rooms.

Tudor Farmhouse

Top rated
9.0 Excellent (289 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.4 / 10
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Top hotel in the Forest of Dean on the River Wye

Whether you’re in the area to explore the hiking trails, canoe along the river or to sample the famed ales and food, the Saracen’s Head Inn won’t disappoint. The family-run inn has a welcoming feel with the ideal balance of homely textiles in the cosy lounge and scrubbed pine tables and centuries-old flagstone flooring in the bar and dining room.

Within the historic walls of the inn and its boathouse, are nine rooms with feature beams, rustic wooden floorboards and views over the River Wye. To complement the building’s original features, each is finished with contemporary luxuries including an en suite with a deep bathtub or glass-panelled walk-in shower. Take in the views through the large windows while skylights let the sunshine fill the space and create a bright and airy feeling. To make the most of the hotel’s waterfront location, choose a room with its own balcony overlooking the riverside and the serene woodland beyond – just the spot to sit outside in the evening with a cup of tea and do some star gazing.

To get an authentic taste of the area, visit the hotel’s AA rosette-awarded restaurant for modern takes on classic pub favourites. Following in the steps of the inn’s 100-year history, the kitchen continues to create menus filled with flavours true to the region. This is achieved by carefully selected produce from local farmers whenever possible such as Longhorn beef, Middle White pork and Ryeland lamb from neighbouring Hunts Farm, where the animals roam freely in the meadows. Tuck into dishes like succulent Breconshire lamb rump or Welsh Black sirloin steak and wash it down with ales from Wye Valley Brewery or hand-crafted Severn Cider made with fruit from nearby orchards.

Keen explorers and nature lovers couldn’t ask for a more ideal position. As well as staying in Symonds Yat – a town recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty for its forest trails and unspoiled riverbanks – you’ll be about a 4 mile walk to the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean, or you could drive about an hour to the Brecon Beacons National Park and The Black Mountains. For a breathtaking vista, find your way to renowned viewpoint Symonds Yat Rock and look down the valley of the river 130 yards below or spot peregrine falcons flying back to their nesting places in nearby cliffs.

The Saracens Head Inn

Top rated
8.9 Excellent (109 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.5 / 10
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Top hotel in the Forest of Dean within a majestic manor

Live like a king or queen at the 17th-century Speech House Hotel. Sitting in the centre of the Royal Forest of Dean, one of the few surviving ancient woodlands in England, this extravagant manor house was built as a hunting lodge for Charles II. Make yourself at home in an elegant modern room, decorated in soft greys or salmon with warm wooden furnishings. For a grand occasion, book into a suite with an elaborate wooden carved four-poster bed, which measures seven feet and is so high you are given a small step to help you climb into it. Adding to the regal theme, rooms also feature an original fireplace with ornate tiles surrounded by a polished wood mantle and a walnut dressing table with an opulent mirror. Each of the old-style rooms in the hotel is designed with a similar majestic air, created with luxurious fabrics, striking wallpapers and period-style furnishings. If you fancy living closer to the forest, the hotel’s cosy cottage has rooms overlooking the pastures and woodland behind the main house.

Dinner fit for a royal is served in the Verderers restaurant. Experience fine dining in the former Verderers Court where rulings, concerning the forest, were passed more than 300 years ago. The court is the most significant room in the lodge with many of its old features, such as the raised gallery and fireplace, remaining in their original place. Take a seat beneath the beamed ceiling to dine on elegantly displayed plates such as Welsh beef or dry-aged pork followed by an indulgent home-made dessert like delicate elderflower panna cotta or sticky chocolate brownie. For a less formal meal or a spot of afternoon tea, the Orangery offers a more casual environment. This bright, glass-walled room is filled with comfortable wicker armchairs and offers views out across the hotel’s manicured gardens. Admire the landscape while nibbling on finger sandwiches filled with local cheese and pear chutney, followed by seasonal fancies and traditional sultana scones with jam and clotted cream.

For some fresh air, explore the surrounding forest or wander around the house’s vast grounds. Among the many trees, in front of the hotel, you might find two young oaks that were planted over half a century ago by the Duke of Edinburgh – the spade he used is showcased within the hotel.

The Speech House

8.2 Very good (402 reviews)
Excellent Service 9 / 10
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Grade-II listed top hotel in the Forest of Dean

Fuel up for a morning wood walk by stopping at Andersen’s restaurant for a continental breakfast of cold meats, cheese and croissants or order hot fare like the Forest House full English with black pudding, or poached eggs and sliced ham with hollandaise sauce. You’ll start the day here in the light and airy dining room decorated with Art Deco-style mirrors, panels of subtle tree-print wallpaper and patterned textiles. In the evening, you’ll usually find yourself back to dine. The restaurant prides itself on warming, home-cooked meals and specialises in slow-cooked meat dishes including braised brisket of beef. The dinner menu also boasts extra-matured ‘Celtic Pride’ steaks and plates of fish and seafood, like the mixed seafood platter with tiger prawns and mussels. Even if you think you’re full, take a look at the desserts board and be tempted by the Forest House Cheeseboard with its selection of regional cheeses or pick an old favourite like sticky toffee pudding.

 

After days out wandering in the wild forest, put your feet up in a spacious and welcoming room at Forest House. The boutique hotel fills each of its eight rooms with a balance of homely touches and modern details such as plush super-king beds and cushions in cosy fabrics. Enjoy a spa-like experience in your bathroom with luxurious Elemis toiletries and a power shower that will leave you feeling refreshed after woodland walks. Make yourself at home with a cup of tea or coffee (there’s hot chocolate, too) and dunk the complimentary biscuits while watching your flat-screen TV. Rooms also have a DVD player, so you can bring your own films to watch or borrow one from the hotel’s library.

The hotel is housed within an 18th-century grade II listed building in the historic town of Coleford, in the heart of the Forest of Dean. It’s been sympathetically refurbished, retaining original features and the period style of the property with sash windows, an antique wooden door and a picture rail in the dining room. A beautifully manicured garden of topiary bushes and scented flowers, such as lavender, surrounds the hotel. Dotted with wooden seats, it’s the ideal place to sit in the sunshine on clear afternoons and get lost in a book. On days when adventure beckons, walk 2 miles down the road to Puzzlewood and Clearwell Caves or take a short 3 mile drive out to the awe-inspiring Wye Valley and Beechenhurst. There are also plenty of trails to follow including ones for cyclists and another with sculptures to spot.


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