Tucked away on a river bend in the idyllic Forest of Bowland in Lancashire northern England, the Inn at Whitewell is a 14th century property was once home to the keepers of the Royal Forest. While it still remains part of the Duchy of Lancaster estate, the property is now a charming inn regaled for its quintessentially British style and luxurious amenities.
Hotelier Charlie Bowman, whose family has run the pub for three generations and over the years, the Inn has won multiple awards for luxury and hospitality, including an Old Favorites prize in the first Sawday’s British Hotel Awards. Founder Alastair Sawday said of the inn, “Like a good red wine, this hotel gets better with age — these places have a clear instinct for great hospitality and have been delighting guests for year”
In 2006, Queen Elizabeth II herself made a visit to the inn for lunch. “We did what we do best, provided good hospitality. We advised what was on the menu and her people made a selection...locally raised chicken, if my memory serves me correctly," shared Bowman. "We gave ourselves a crash course in protocol for Royals and simply carried on as if it were any other lunch party. Well, almost. Actually we were terrified. Hope it didn’t show.”
But don’t go calling the inn just another place to lay your head at night. “We’re definitely not a country house hotel, which all too often is a decaying stately home whose owners are trying to pay their bills by taking in guests. And we’re not a conventional hotel. Those range from rather sordid budget places all the way up to the palaces you see in Dubai or Las Vegas,” remarked Bowman. “So we’re an inn, if you like, or a pub. That means public house, and the public is certainly welcome here. So are their dogs, if they’re high-class and well-mannered, but I’m afraid their horses will have to wait outside.”
When it comes to bedrooms, the property has all shapes and sizes ranging from guestrooms to suites and Coach House accommodations located off the main building. The generations of Bowmans past have been avid collectors, evidenced by the furnishings and artworks in the public and private rooms. Room 20, with a vast private balcony overlooking the river, has a headboard thought to be 300 years old, a wealth of watercolor paintings and a host of old cartoons showing red-faced old gentlemen falling off horses.
Around the pub, the area is popular for hunting, shooting, and fishing, especially since the pub owns seven miles of fishing rights. Its fields nurture fat pheasants and the moorlands are home to thousands of red grouse, the most popular prey of British shooters.
Judging by their consistently booked rooms, the Bowmans must be doing something right. Mixing together luxury amenities and country-home charm, the Inn at Whitewell doesn’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon.