The Sun Inn on the Essex-Suffolk border is a charming base from which to explore the Dedham Vale. This bucolic area has changed little since it was immortalised by John Constable in paintings like The Hay Wain. You can borrow bikes from them to explore, or rent a boat on the River Stour; the pub will even make you a picnic. The bright yellow façade of this handsome old coaching inn beckons you to an interior that manages to be airy, spacious and properly pubby with beams and wooden floors, open fires and an elm bar lined with jolly locals and their dogs. There are newspapers to read, board games to play, and deep sofas to sink into, plus seven individually decorated bedrooms with centuries-old character and sumptuous beds – the perfect place to unwind. The restaurant’s seasonal food is big on flavour and inspired by Italy: think home-made pasta, fish from Mersea day boats, local meat, game and fruit & veg in season. There’s also a tasty bar menu for casual occasions, local ales and an eclectic wine list brimming with rare treats.

Doubles from £150

+44 (0)1206 323351;

The Sun Inn