It's a pity the horse and buggy is a thing of the past, because pulling up to the Bell at Skenfrith in a gas-guzzler doesn't have nearly the same flair. About 100 miles from London, this 17th-century coaching inn on the Welsh border overlooks the Monnow River and the ruins of a Norman keep. There's fishing tackle in the flagstone hall, for trout casting on the Usk or Wye rivers. Handcrafted beds in the eight guest rooms are draped with muted Nina Campbell and Jane Churchill fabrics. While the local gentry dine in the formal restaurant on chef Leigh Say's Cornish diver-caught scallops or Usk Valley rack of lamb, his heartier loin of Welsh venison has won over the regulars at the adjoining pub. And if you do arrive via buggy, you can still tether old Dobbin outside. BELL AT SKENFRITH, Skenfrith, Wales; 44-1600/750-235, fax 44-1600/750-525; www.skenfrith.com; doubles from $124. —Shane Mitchell
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