Tucked away in the heart of the charming market town of Saffron Walden, The Cross Keys is an historic hostelry dating back to the 12th century with a particularly impressive timber framed exterior. Having seen better days, a massive refurbishment in time for the Queen’s Jubilee in 2012 has at last brought this historic building back to life. From the moment you step inside, the combination of sensitively restored period details and the best of contemporary boutique design is impressive. The six bedrooms are all individually designed with fine furniture and superbly comfy beds. Expect Hungarian duck feather duvets, Nespresso machines, monsoon showers and all the mod cons such as flat screen TVs, iPod docks and Wi-Fi. The freshly cooked breakfasts are a great way to start the day. The Cross Keys is all about convivial enjoyment of food and drink, so lunch or dinner here is a must. The food philosophy is to source the highest quality ingredients from regional suppliers and prepare them simple and non-fussy way. The result is British food with a twist, including all-time-classics like slow cooked pork belly, baby back ribs, fish and chips, steak burgers and pan-seared calves liver. The bar has a full range of beers and cask ales and the wine list (which features both Old and New World varieties) is particularly strong on wines from South West Australia, with a fine collection of vintages by winemakers Robert Hill-Smith and Chester Osbourn. Also, allow yourself to be tempted by one of the famous specialty cheesecakes from Molly’s Coffee and Cake Shop. A walk around the historic centre of Saffron Walden is a must – look out for pargetting (elaborate moulded plasterwork), a host of independent shops and Wallace the Lion at the Saffron Walden Museum. The location on the Essex/Cambridgeshire border is the perfect outpost for exploring a wide range of sights, including the impressive Imperial War Museum at Duxford and the splendid stately home Audley End.