The Duncombe Arms is your new ‘home from home’ in Staffordshire

It’s easy to mistake The Duncombe Arms as just another idyllic country-side pub in Staffordshire, but driving past this truly fabulous locale without entering its world would be a [...]

It’s easy to mistake The Duncombe Arms as just another idyllic country-side pub in Staffordshire, but driving past this truly fabulous locale without entering its world would be a true travesty. Don’t be fooled by an unassuming stone façade, because The Duncombe Arms is so much more than a country-pub (although in that regard, the Michelin-recommended pub is excellent too).

TeamCocopup Charlie and I stayed in The Walnut House, located just a few paces away from the main building. The dog-friendly Walnut House offers ten individually-designed bedrooms that exude country-side chic. While designed as ‘pub with rooms’, in many ways The Walnut House is more of a ‘home from home’ with each room expertly balancing modern luxuries with familiar touches of home.

We stayed in the Game Birds room. A dark mouse grey shade from Farrow & Ball is balanced a rich and vibrant artisanal wallpaper of – you guess it – game birds. A wool throw, a handsome collection of books, and a Roberts Radio add a softness to the interiors. Large French doors open to a patio with pastoral views of The Dove Valley, perfect for those travelling with hyper-active pooches.

Outside of your room, a quirky selection of art from the Crane Kalman Gallery in London adorn the walls, giving The Walnut House a decidedly boutique-hotel appeal, which doesn’t feel out of place amidst the pastoral landscapes of Ellastone. The Duncombe Arms also offers self-catering accommodation for those travelling in larger groups. The Garden Cottage is peak cottage-core, while the Old Barn is rustic chic at its finest.

The heart of The Duncombe Arms must be the pub, which during our stay, was always filled with clinking glasses, familiar chatter, and wonderful aromas. Look for Hotel Manager James Oddy who has all the best recommendations on what to order – whether that’s with the hotel’s excellent elevated pub menu or extensive 200-wine strong wine list.

The food at Duncombe Arms is second-to-none and it quickly becomes apparent why The Michelin Bib Gourmand, The Good Pub Guide, and included in Estrella Damn Top 50 Gastro Pubs have all included it on their best pubs lists.

There are several dining rooms at The Duncombe Arms to suit whatever you fancy, each one offering a slightly different take on the classic English pub, from a cosy snug to a fairy-light covered conservatory. A new addition is the glass-walled extension that offers plenty of romance in the evenings and is also the ideal spot for Sunday brunch.

The menu mixes pub classics with a creative spattering of modern British dishes. The menu is full of surprises and maximises the high-quality locally-sourced ingredients available in Staffordshire. From the autumn menu, the caramelised cauliflower (a humble side) was a clear standout, as was the Mackerel with aioli and tarragon and the buttered baby carrots and aubergine. It truly says something about the quality of the cooking when even the sides, often an afterthought in many other establishments, continue to delight in new and exciting ways.

For mains, the pork loin with white bean, truffle and parsnip tantalises with its perfect balance of texture, flavour and pizazz while the 40-aged dry wood rib eye steak, served with tick cut chips, was (unsurprisingly) delicious too.

So, if you are looking for a dog friendly staycation that will surely dazzle, we highly recommend The Duncombe Arms. There is no other place in Derbyshire that will, not just serve an impeccable pub meal, but will welcome you to your ‘home from home’ quite like it.

A deluxe double room at The Walnut House at The Duncombe Arms starts at £195 for double occupancy including breakfast. For more information visit https://www.duncombearms.co.uk/

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Hannah Lynn Tan
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