Gin lovers’ paradise: The Bell Inn at Selsley
Gin-ophiles should mark this 16th century Cotswolds inn in their little black book of juniper finds, as The Bell Inn’s collection of more than 80 gins takes guests on a tour of the region’s many award-winning distilleries.
However extensive the superior sips, they’re not the only reason to visit The Bell Inn, as chef owner Mark Paynes’ cooking more than lives up to the pleasing pours.
Produce sourced from surrounding farms and villages – including lamb from the fields next door – is treated with the greatest respect. Humble blade of beef, for instance, undergoes a five-hour session at the lowest of temperatures until it falls apart under the merest application of knife and fork. This house fave is served with creamy champ, griddled half shallot and sticky red cabbage – and is worth travelling for.
Starters such as smoked haddock and dill rillettes – fresh, lemony, light on the dressing and served with simple unadorned crisp sourdough toast – are another celebration of modest things done well.
From the homemade bread and mayo to the biscuits which accompany coffee, everything is crafted in Mark’s kitchen. And, thanks to the pared-back nature of his cooking, which eschews rich cream and butter in favour of fresh flavours, you may even find you have room for dessert.
Can’t manage a proper pud? Plump for the creative middle-ground and pick the gingato – a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream drenched, affogato-style, in rhubarb and ginger gin liqueur.
Trencherman’s tip: three smart guestrooms await above the inn.