Planning a Pub Crawl
Alastair Sawday's Special Places: Pubs & Inns of England & Wales lists more than 600 pubs notable for their commitment to good food, good beer, or just a good atmosphere; it also highlights pubs with especially nice guest rooms. The Les Routiers book British Pubs & Inns is focused on food, but also notes pubs with accommodations. Both are sold at barnesandnoble.com. A sprawling website, Fat Badgers Guide to Quality Inns, Pubs, Restaurants, and Hotels (fatbadgers.co.uk), reviews hundreds of U.K. pubs, many with rooms.
Room reservations are crucial on weekends and in summer. Book dinner at the same time: Gastropubs' dining rooms fill up even on weeknights. And while the rate almost always includes a full pub breakfast, it never hurts to make sure.
A smart approach is to pick one area (the Cotswolds, Yorkshire, the West Country) and visit several pubs and sightsee along the way.
Any English country tour requires a rental car, and excellent weekly deals are available from major rental agencies. No region of England lies more than about four hours' drive from Heathrow Airport, but a road atlas is indispensable. Driving speeds may feel fast, especially between narrow hedgerows, but oncoming drivers are polite enough to swing into the nearest pullout to allow you to pass. (A blink of the high beams means "after you.")