It’s not often a wardrobe is the centre point of a hotel bedroom. But faced with the glories of a free-standing, Eastern-style cupboard in holiday-striped fabric with squirly finial, I fell in love.
The tiny Peaks village of Beeley is part of the Chatsworth estate, surrounding the magnificent Chatsworth House, a short walk away. As the demand for top quality accommodation grows, several of its gorgeous cottages are being turned into luxurious rooms, and we were staying in one of the prettiest, just opposite the historic, mellow-stoned Devonshire Arms. Recently restored, the attention to detail, down to replacing tiny hand-made panes in Dove Cottage’s lattice windows, is extraordinary.
Our room at the Devonshire Arms Beeley was small, but sumptuously decorated in tasteful pinks with lots of well-placed mirrors for light and space. The kiddie in me was particularly taken with a jar of tuck-shop sweets by the bed – fizz bombs, penny chews and lollipops. The adult in me loved the bathroom, fresh and modern with an excellent shower.
Crossing a few steps down the road, past a brook twinkling through the village, we went to the pub itself for dinner. As we stepped into the stone-walled, traditional bar with a contemporary feel, we were greeted with a warm, smoky aroma. Someone was hot-smoking something gorgeous. It turned out to be salmon, light, juicy and with exceptional flavour, served with plain toast and a simple salad; all it needed.
My main course turned a few heads around us. A wheel of Camembert, studded with cloves from a whole garlic bulb, baked and served with golden beetroot en papillote. It was divine. I was delighted to see a Gewürztraminer on the wines-by-the-glass list and paired it with the Camembert. Not an obvious choice, but its light floral overtones sat well with the veritable lava of baked cheese and the woody earthiness of garlic and beetroot. My companion’s Barnsley chop from the nearby Chatsworth Farm shop was succulent, served with mash, tomato jus and mint sauce, but he wished he’d ordered some extra veg to go with it.
I was crestfallen when our delightful waiter (a fellow Gewürztraminer fan) told us they were out of Bakewell tarts. It was, perhaps, understandable since Beeley’s just a few miles from Bakewell – presumably every other guest had fancied a hyper-local dessert. My disappointment turned to delight, however, when my alternative choice, a very sticky toffee pudding, arrived: rich, moist and sweet without being cloying. I insisted on a forkful of my friend’s ‘Mrs Hill’s Lemon Tart’ (‘Mrs Hill’ being chef-patron Alan Hill’s wife) and couldn’t decide which I would have chosen had I tasted them first. The Devonshire Arms do good puds.
After a deep sleep between crisp cotton sheets, we took a quick turn around the village, chatting to locals before breakfast, served in a bright, modern, glass-sided extension to the pub looking across the stream at our still-very-cute cottage. Meat from the Chatsworth Estate, eggs done to perfection, excellent fresh fruit salad, crusty toast and some particularly fine yoghurts. I had two. So shoot me.
For more information visit devonshirebeeley.co.uk
For more from Sandra visit www.sandralawrence.com