What’s The Bell Inn like?
This 15th Century coaching inn is just a couple of miles from the A1 in Stilton. The village is famed for its cheese – and although it isn’t made here any more because of EU rules, a trip to Stilton is still heaven for turophiles. The Bell Inn is part of The Coaching Inn Group, which has a passion for restoring old buildings. These days, it is a popular wedding venue but once upon a time, highwayman Dick Turpin is said to have stayed here!
How dog-friendly is The Bell Inn?
Really good. Pets are welcome in all areas of the hotel – aside from the main restaurant. You can dine with your dog in the bistro or bar though, and there’s also the courtyard and garden. As soon as we sat down, a member of staff brought Ernie and Stan some water and treats without us even having to ask. The boys were even complimented on their manners – which was great, considering it was Stan’s first time inside a pub or hotel! There is an additional charge of £10 per dog per night to stay.
Tell me more about The Bell Inn
There are a host of Classic, Superior and Deluxe rooms available at The Bell, all of which have been individually furnished. Many overlook the old courtyard and some even have balconies but ours – Blacksmiths – was at the front of the hotel. Apparently, the upstairs room used to be the manager’s old office. It was perfect for us, travelling with two dogs, because it had its own entrance so we could come and go as we pleased.
Staying in Blacksmiths felt more like staying in an apartment than at a hotel. At the top of the stairs, there was a large landing area leading to the bathroom and bedroom. Here, a king-size bed with stylish feature headboard took up most of the space but there were lots of lovely little touches. These included robes and slippers, a retro radio and a calming sleep spray by the bed. The H2K of Harrogate toiletries in the bathroom were also lovely and there was a cute rubber duck by the bath.
It was good to know there was only a function room/bar area underneath Blacksmiths so we could relax safe in the knowledge that the boys couldn’t disturb other guests by rampaging up and down the stairs! I also liked the fact there were arty photographs of horseshoes dotted around too, in a nod to the room’s name.
What’s the food like at The Bell Inn?
Delicious. As you might expect, Stilton features heavily on the menu, despite the fact it can now only be made in Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire. On our visit, we tried the Stilton Pate, pictured above, and the Stilton Fries. You can add Stilton sauce to your steak or have it crumbled over your burger. There’s even a Stilton sampler for dessert which, if you’re feeling decadent, can be delivered to your room.
If you’re all cheesed out, there are plenty of other options, from seabass to sweet potato curries and vegan risotto. Breakfast is well worth getting out of bed for, too. The Full English is impressive but the Vegan Breakfast features The Bell’s very own take on black pudding. There is even an artisan cheese and coffee shop at the hotel so you can buy a souvenir of your stay to take home.
Are there resident dogs at The Bell Inn?
No, but if you’re lucky, you might meet some others who are staying over or have popped in for a pint.
Where are the best dog walks near The Bell Inn?
Holme Fen National Nature Reserve is just a short drive from Stilton. The 650-acre site, pictured above, is home to a silver birch wood but be sure to check out the Holme Posts. At 2.75m below sea level, they mark the lowest land point in Britain. Several trails loop through the reserve but dogs must be kept on a lead between March and August. This is to protect ground-nesting birds. For more walk suggestions in and around the Great Fen, click here.
Crown Lakes Country Park is slightly further afield and Nene Park, just outside Peterborough, is also fantastic for dog walkers. But if you don’t want to stray too far from The Bell, simply walk to the Stilton Pavilion. The community centre is just up the road from the pub and is surrounded by a large playing field – perfect for dogs to let off some steam.
What Ernie and Stan loved about The Bell Inn
The fuss from staff, the sausages for breakfast, the quiet location
What I loved about The Bell Inn
The cheese (of course!), the stylish room, the friendly team
How to book The Bell Inn
Overnight stays start from £65 per room, including breakfast. For more information or to book, call 01733 241066 or visit The Bell Inn website.