Though contemporary and cosy rarely coincide, The Bell at Skenfrith is one place that convincingly combines the two. Tucked into the fold of a hill in the Welsh Marches, it has all the ingredients for a winter break that metropolitans could wish for: a huge inglenook radiating heat, surrounded by sofa, settle and rocking chair; a candlelit, flagstone dining room serving locally sourced modern British dishes -planned around vegetables and fruits grown in the kitchen garden – along with a well-organised wine list (with a generous range of half bottles and wines by the glass); and 11 delightful, simple-sophisticated bedrooms.
Converted in 2001 by Janet and William Hutchings, the formerly run-down inn stands on the Monnow River close to Skenfrith Castle in an unchanged village. There are wonderful walks from the door, including the 18-mile Three Castles Walk, which is demanding but possible in a single day. If you want to do it in two days, the staff, if not too busy, will pick you up at the end of the first day. When you get back, you could have a Jersey cream tea to ease your sore feet.
The Bell has regular special offers. As we went to press, they were offering two nights dinner, bed and breakfast for two people from £340.