Review of The Devonshire Arms at Pilsley, Derbyshire
The Devonshire Arms at Pilsley is on the Chatsworth Estate, in the heart of the stunning Peak District National Park. The charming 18th century village inn is perfect for a romantic stay – whether you're celebrating a special occasion, or just want to treat yourself.
Pilsley is a picturesque village of stone houses and cottages, with a village school and post office. It's ideally located for exploring this beautiful part of England, with easy access to spectacular hiking routes and fascinating historic villages.
There are 13 rooms at The Devonshire Arms, all individually styled and luxurious. For the ultimate in romance, though, opt for one of the gorgeous four-poster Farmhouse rooms.
These are located in a beautifully restored farmhouse, adjacent to the main inn. There are six rooms here, all named after local farms on the Chatsworth Estate – and each room is individually designed by the Duchess of Devonshire herself.
We stayed in South Oaks, and it certainly had the 'wow' factor. A big four poster took centre stage – it is so high off the ground that little steps are provided to help you get in and out of bed.
The whole room felt very opulent, with thick carpets, antique furniture and comfortable armchairs to sink into. Two big sash windows gave lovely views across the garden and beyond to the pretty village.
There were lots of little details that made our stay really special. Complimentary glass bottles of still and sparkling water, as well as a bag of fudge, were waiting for us on the writing desk. And there was a chess set and a selection of books to keep us entertained.
We also loved the fantastic tea tray. This included a selection of our favourite teas by Tea Pigs – their 'tea temples' are biodegradable and come in plastic-free, recyclable and compostable packaging.
There was also an espresso machine, hot chocolate, and a packet of delicious Chatsworth shortbread biscuits.
The attention to detail continued in the spacious, gleaming bathroom, where we found fluffy towels and bathrobes, and lovely eco-friendly Noble Isle toiletries.
The bathroom was as stylish and luxurious as the bedroom, with a large, deep bathtub, vintage-style taps and fittings, and rainfall shower. The wooden floor and wood-panelled bath, and natural colour scheme of pale green, creams and brown, created a wonderfully calming space.
Dinner is served in the main inn. The food is a sophisticated version of British pub fare, created using local and seasonal ingredients – many of which are produced on the Chatsworth Estate.
The menu offers a great choice of hearty starters and main dishes, including baked Camembert, Chatsworth Gold beer battered haddock, and pie of the day with chips and seasonal vegetables.
There's a changing selection of specials – and a good choice of vegetarian options too, such as feta parcels served with a fresh, mixed salad.
The bar and dining areas at the inn have recently been refurbished, with colourful upholstery, designer lighting and cheerful stag-themed wallpaper and accessories.
The open stonework and wooden floors in the bar add to the traditional pub atmosphere. It's a relaxing place to enjoy one of the local ales on tap – including beers produced by award-winning Peak Ales, on the Chatsworth Estate.
Breakfast is served in the bar, and is superb. There's a buffet selection, with a wide choice of cereals, pastries, yoghurt, and fresh fruit smoothies and juices. Chatsworth jams, honey and marmalade are also on offer.
As well as helping yourself to the breakfast buffet, a hot breakfast is cooked to order, using produce from the local farms. There's a wide choice, from a full English breakfast to smashed avocado on sourdough toast with poached eggs to banana and blueberry pancakes.
We opted for the vegetarian full English breakfast, which was the best veggie breakfast we have had – because it's cooked to order it was hot, fresh and very tasty. And, just as we'd found at dinner the previous evening, portions were very generous.
After all that food, we needed to get out and walk off some calories – and fortunately there's excellent walking straight from the door of The Devonshire Arms.
We were able to explore some of the farm tracks, bridleways and woodland paths in the immediate vicinity, and within minutes found ourselves in glorious Peak District scenery.
Chatsworth House itself is within walking distance, and the house, gardens and grounds are not to be missed.
Guests staying at The Devonshire Arms at Pilsley have a unique opportunity to get a glimpse behind the scenes at Chatsworth House. The 'Secrets & Surprises' tours, led by a specialist guide, run during the winter months when the house is closed to the general public – and are exclusively available to guests of Chatsworth Cottages, or guests staying at one of the Chatsworth Estate Hotels or Inns. Click here for more information.
The Chatsworth Estate is part of the Green Tourism scheme and has achieved a gold award. There are two electric car-charging points in the car park – this is a complimentary service for diners and residential guests.
The guest book in the rooms gives information to help guests minimize their impact on the environment during their stay, with suggestions about how to reduce waste, respect nature and support the fantastic local producers to be found in the area.
Use of local produce is extremely important at Chatsworth, with ingredients produced in the Peak District used in the cafés and restaurants on the estate.
And local produce in abundance can be found at the Chatsworth Estate Farm Shop. Also in Pilsley, it's just a few minutes walk from The Devonshire Arms. Much of the food on offer is produced on the estate, or within the local area. There are fresh fruits and vegetables, jams and chutneys, and freshly baked bread and cakes. The excellent deli is especially tempting – featuring a range of scotch eggs, pasties, quiches, pâté, and cheese, with lots of choice for vegetarians.
The combination of fine food, wonderful Peak District scenery, and romantic luxury makes the Devonshire Arms at Pilsley an ideal choice for a relaxing weekend away. Highly recommended.