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A warm welcome on a cold evening; KATHERINE BAINBRIDGE enjoys a weekend break in a cosy cheshire pub hotel.

HERE'S nothing like a cosy country pub on a cold winter's night.

t. And as the Vicarage, in Cranage just outside Holmes Chapel, is less than an hour from Manchester, let's face it - even if it's not winter it will probably be raining.

This recently refurbished, Grade II listed 17th century country pub and hotel nestles in the very well-heeled (or Hunter welly-booted) Cheshire countryside.

Earlier this year, the Vicarage completed the building of a number of snazzy new suites in the listed part of the building.

And it was one of these that we were treated to a night in on a cold February evening.

The room was lovely; cosy with old-fashioned beams and a king-size bed, and the bathroom was spectacular - the same size as the bedroom, if not bigger, with exposed brick walls, a walk-in shower, and a gorgeous rolltop bath.

I am a bit of a bathroom connoisseur, and this was a good one. Pretty much the first thing I did was start running a bath (I do love a bath).

The room also had plenty of great little touches, such as a jar of home-made cookies, proper coffee machine, and a broad range of teas to refresh us after the long and tiring journey.

My only slight criticism of the room was the unusual lack of mirrors - the only mirror in the place was in the bathroom -unless one was hiding, but I did look in the wardrobe.

Only a small thing, and it turns out I can style my hair by feel alone, so there's a skill to add to my LinkedIn profile.

We had dinner in the restaurant, which was busy and buzzing on a Friday night, and serves a wide range of what I would call posh pub grub.

The music when we arrived was a slightly odd dance selection; not bad, just... insistent, but it soon mellowed.

Don't get me wrong, I like dance music when I can dance to it, but it seemed like an incongruous setting.

I was extremely impressed by my starter of smoked mackerel with a soft boiled hen's egg, lemon and herb mayonnaise and ciabatta croutes - just the right size, tasty and wellbalanced. It's making me hungry just thinking about it.

For the main I had the cod fillet with sweet potato dauphinoise, buttered kale, confit chorizo, chilli and garlic salsa. Again, a great combination of flavours, although I could never have got through the whole portion (they go big on the mains) and the fish was ever so slightly overcooked for my taste.

And then the desserts. I went for the Cheshire Farmhouse Cheeseboard, which was excellent, and my husband had the Cheshire farm ice cream selection.

Oh crikey, the ice cream. If you go there, order it. Order a lot of it. Trust me, you won't regret it.

The menu at the Vicarage is right up my street and there is plenty else I could have happily ordered - hot smoked salmon mousse, chicken liver parfait, duck press, pork belly, sea bass (OK, now I'm really hungry) - and for well-booted Cheshire it's pretty reasonable; around PS6 to PS8 for starters and PS13 to PS21 for mains.

Plus they do a dinner, bed and breakfast offer from PS165 for two people, which is pretty good value, too.

And did I mention that the ice cream selection is only PS4.50 for the large version? I'd order two if I were you. Each.

A post-prandial drink (or three) and a game of pool in the bar was the perfect way to round off the evening, before staggering up the mercifully short flight of stairs to our room.

The following morning we descended once more for breakfast, which was at least as impressive as dinner.

There is a good buffet-style continental selection, and a menu of hot dishes covering everything from a full English to smoked salmon, crumpets and porridge.

We both had the 'Batch' - local sausages, bacon and a beautifully poached egg on a muffin, which was both tasty and substantial; the perfect combination.

Breakfast is served from 7am and is available to all, so you don't need to have stayed the night to treat yourself, and the prices range from PS2.95 for the crumpets to PS10.95 for the full English.

Now, that's what I call the perfect weekend getaway.

need to know | KATHERINE BAINBRIDGE stayed at The Vicarage Freehouse & Rooms, Knutsford Road, Cranage, CW4 8EF, as a guest of the owners.

| Dinner, bed and breakfast is from PS165 for two, or an overnight stay and afternoon tea is from PS130 for two. Call 01477 533393, or visit thevicaragecheshire.com

CAPTION(S):

Everything about the Vicarage, from the dining areas to the bathrooms and bedrooms says cosy and comfortable

The Vicarage, in Cranage, gives guests a taste of tradition
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 17, 2017
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