Light my fire
Tom Chesshyre fans the flames with his top 10 British winter boltholes
Warm in Bath: Royal Crescent Hotel
THE Montague on the Gardens, Bloomsbury, London: It’s ornate. It’s over the top. And it has a wonderful fireplace in a bright red lounge. Two decorative blue and red armchairs sit on either side of the fireplace. There are crystal chandeliers, antique side tables and a pair of matching oval paintings of flowers. The lounge is next to a bar that features an evening pianist. The management says that staying here is like writing your own part in a Bloomsbury Group novel. More: www.montaguehotel.com.
The Red Lion, Long Compton, Warwickshire: A pub with a wood-burning fireplace in the bar and plenty of real ales to sample. There are wood beams, flagstone floors, exposed brick walls and lots of nooks and crannies to settle into with a pint. Rooms are small but stylish and reasonably priced. The restaurant serves pan-fried red mullet and Cumberland sausage and mash. Member of the Campaign for Real Ale. More: www.redlion-longcompton.co.uk.
Westover Hall, Milford-on-Sea, Hampshire: This Grade II-listed building on the edge of the New Forest and overlooking the Isle of Wight has a big open fireplace in the Nuffield Lounge, which is named after Lord Nuffield, a former owner. The style is eclectic, with stone Buddhas, antique side tables, porcelain vases and bright artwork. Rooms are luxuriously appointed. More: www.westoverhallhotel.com.
The Inn at Whitewell, near Clitheroe, Lancashire: Oriental rugs, oil paintings, sofas with velvet covers, dark-wood bed frames and open fires are all in the guestrooms at this inn. Parts of the building date from the 14th century and there are views of the Forest of Bowland. The bar also has a fireplace, and serves organic cider and beer. More: www.innatwhitewell.com.
Kinnaird Hotel, Restaurant & Sporting Estate, Perthshire, Scotland: Even the fishing hut (bothie) on this 2800ha estate has an open fire, making it a popular spot for an afternoon tipple among fishermen and hunting guests. You will also find working fireplaces in nine rooms in the main house of this country hotel on the banks of the River Tay in Perthshire. More: www.kinnairdestate.com.
Fenton Tower, North Berwick, East Lothian, Scotland: James VI of Scotland took refuge in this 16th-century fortified tower in 1591 after fleeing rebels. Now it can be rented for a minimum of six guests. The cosiest room is the main hall, where there’s a large fireplace with a breastplate and crossed halberds hanging above. There are tapestries, flagstone floors and a coffee table chessboard. More: www.fentontower.co.uk.
Royal Crescent Hotel, Bath: Avocado and crab sandwiches are on the menu for tea in front of a roaring fire in the drawing room of the Royal Crescent. The room is decorated in green and purple, and is furnished with antique chairs. There are gilded mirrors and old oval portraits. The Georgian fireplace has an iron grate, and two oriental vases rest on its mantelpiece. More: www.royalcrescent.co.uk.
Ardanaiseig Hotel, Argyll, Scotland: This Scottish baronial manor, dating from 1834, has a lounge bar with a large open fire and a selection of fine Scotch whiskies, perfect for a rest after a long lochside walk or a venture up the slopes of the Munroes. High windows open on to the estate’s Victorian gardens. More: www.ardanaiseig.com.
Beckett Cottage at Combermere Abbey, Whitchurch, Shopshire: Pink sofas in front of a brick fireplace are the feature of the sitting room at Beckett Cottage, one of seven self-catering cottages with fires at the 900-year-old Combermere Abbey. The building, a former stables, dates from the early 19th century. It sleeps six in three bedrooms that have an African theme, with headboards in the shape of giraffes and antelope-horned chandeliers. More: www.combermereabbey.co.uk.
Cotswold House Hotel, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire: OK, so it’s not a real fire, but the flickering flames on the television in the bathroom of room 15 at Cotswold House Hotel have a strangely warming effect. It’s next to a bathtub with bizarre yellow spotlights. The overall effect is a mix of futuristic and More: www.cotswoldhouse.com. The Sunday Times More British fireside favourites and pictures: www.theaustralian.com.au/travel.