The Vicarage at Cranage, Cheshire is more than just a country pub; described as ‘a refurbished country pub and hotel’ it offers fine dining in a renovated 17th Century Grade II listed building, with a convivial atmosphere. It’s the first property to be launched by Flat Cap Hotels, a family run hotel group and opened in 2015 after lying derelict for five years. A former Vicarage and coaching inn, the group have done a fine job restoring it.
We visited with our dog in tow on Halloween weekend and the pub was tastefully decorated with pumpkins and lanterns and the staff had made huge efforts to dress up. There was a friendly atmosphere, a good vibe and the guests were of all ages, including families. The young staff were friendly and polite with a great attitude, providing a warm welcome for us and the dog.
The Vicarage has exposed beams and supports, wooden panelling, lovely warm log fires, and is decked out with vintage wall mirrors, a selection of hats and caps, paintings, knickknacks and framed prints which give it a genuine country feel, but in a stylish way. There are stone flag floors and the rooms appears to ramble (in a good way) from one to another – it’s much bigger than it looks from the outside, with a well-stocked games room, restaurant area, bar, snug chill-out areas, library and an imposing conservatory.
There are wood burners, rustic tables and chairs, plus comfy squishy sofas and armchairs - perfect for relaxing with a drink or after indulging in a meal.
Our signature room (there are 20 in total) was immaculately clean and spacious with a big comfy bed, home to numerous cushions and a cosy wool throw (perfect for an afternoon doze!). Steps led down to the luxurious ensuite bathroom with deep bath, fluffy towels, toiletries, and walk-in shower with rain-shower fitting.
There are all the things you’d expect from a hotel room, from a hairdryer to tea and coffee-making facilities (and cookies!) a flatscreen TV and free Wifi, and it was tastefully decorated in an understated way with table lamps, quirky chairs and even an oversized chess set! The dog was catered for too, with a doggie blanket to sleep on, a food bowl and a bag with some tasty treats.
To the front of The Vicarage is a lovely terraced area with patio furniture and huge, architectural gas-flamed heaters. Although sadly far too cold to sit out at this time of year, it’s the ideal spot for an evening meal or drink s the pub is set well back from the road. There are plenty of parking spaces, too.
We took a seat for our evening meal in the bar area, dog in attendance, and had a hard choice deciding what to have. The food here is sourced as locally as possible with ‘a menu driven by the gardeners, foragers, farmers and suppliers of Cheshire’.
Our food was delicious; mouth-watering, tasty with just the right size portions to allow us to sample all three courses without feeling stuffed. Food is every bit as much about the way it looks as it tastes and the presentation was spot-on; it was a delight to eat! And it’s always nice to try something that you wouldn’t normally cook for yourself at home.
There was a specials board with Halloween-themed fayre (eg: pumpkin & sage soup, death by chocolate) but we plumped for…
Terrine braised ox with carrot and baby onion chutney, carrot puree, brioche crisps and Dijon mustard mayo
Prawn salad, melba toast, pickled cucumber, baby gem, dried tomatoes and Marie Rose sauce.
Lamb shoulder, slow-cooked rolled, creamed local potatoes, pan roasted root veg and rosemary jus
Sea bass, seared scallops, pea puree, chorizo and potatoes
Death by chocolate
They also do sumptuous afternoon teas and Sunday lunch with all the trimmings, plus freshly-prepared signature cocktails (which we didn’t try!).
For dog walkers (the pub car park has a dog waste bin) or those who like a good walk, virtually opposite the pub is the entrance to Dane Meadow Nature Reserve. It’s well laid out with good signage and hard paths, although there are a few steep steps to negotiate (there is disabled access). You can follow the river and discover the delightful wooden sculptures that take you by surprise, watch birdlife from a designated hide, view the landscape from the viewing platform, and enjoy pond dipping. There are ample open spaces for dogs to run off-lead and children will love it too.
After our dog walk, we finished off our stay with a hearty, full English breakfast, served in the conservatory on a wonderfully sunny morning (dog asleep on the flag floor after his walk).
The Vicarage is the ideal place to stay away from the hustle and bustle of bigger towns and cities in the northwest, particularly for walkers – you won;t be disappointed.
The Vicarage Freehouse & Rooms
Call: 01477 533393
• Rooms start from £140 per room per night based on Bed and Breakfast
• The dog-friendly package is £185 for two adults and includes a three-course dinner up to the value of £25 per head, English breakfast, doggy treats, bowl and fleece.
For the festive season…
Festive party nights – fizz and canapes followed by seasonally-inspired four-course meal plus evening entertainment.
£42 per person
Christmas Day lunch – three-course meal with all the trimmings, entertainment and a visit from Father Christmas.
From £75 per person
Boxing Day and New Year’s Day Brunch – A relaxed day offering full English breakfast and Eggs Benedict, steal and chips and a Vicarage burger.
From £6.95 per person
New Years’ Eve Gala dinner – A live band with Motown soul anthems and a five-course meal.
£75 per person