The Sun Inn on the Essex-Suffolk border is a charming base from which to explore pretty Dedham Vale. Rent a boat on the River Stour or borrow bikes from the pub – they will even make you a picnic to take with you. 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 magazines and travel books 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 great local produce: think homemade pasta, excellent fish from east coast day boats, local meat, fruit and veg and game in season. Plus local ales and an eclectic wine list brimming with rare treats. This July, the inn celebrates its 20th anniversary under the ownership of Baker Hospitality, which also owns The White Hart Inn on Mersea Island.

Doubles from £150

+44 (0)1206 323351;

Bedroom at the Sun Inn with a yellow feature wall and dark wooden bedframe.