Stay Here: Marquess of Exeter, Lyddington, Rutland

Exquisite Indian dining from chef Krishnapal Negi in deepest Rutland, plus cosy pubs and long walks

Where exactly is it? In deepest rural Rutland, England’s smallest historic county, is the village of Lyddington, a picture-postcard thoroughfare with two pubs, the English Heritage owned Grade 1-listed Bede House, and lots of walks.

So, what’s the vibe? There’s reputedly been a watering hole on this site for 500 years, and the current 18th century thatched-roof pub sits along a row of quaint limestone cottages. Step over the threshold and there are flagstone floors, open fires, snug rooms and low beamed ceilings.

Marquess of Exeter. Photo: Stephen Emms

What was good about the bedrooms? There are 17 in all, and they’re in a converted building behind the main pub itself, and on the edge of the extensive, slightly wild garden. We enjoyed walking to the end and observing the misty view over the hills.

Our ground-floor suite was refreshingly spacious, with separate dressing room and large bathroom. The bed was king size and extremely comfy, while window drapes conceal the ground-floor aspect, which overlooks a stony track through the property.

King-size: the bedroom. Photo: SE

OK, let’s talk food. In the spacious restaurant joined to the rear of the pub, Michelin Bib Gourmand awarded chef Krishnapal Negi, who joined the kitchen six months ago, serves up contemporary Indian menu following his time at Charlotte Street’s 1947. It’s all inspired by his “Himalayan childhood food memories”, he told us.

And it’s stunning. We shared five well-proportioned dishes: wild mushroom cake was bathed in a chickpea masala, tamarind and sweet yoghurt, strewn with pomegranate seeds; while a popular Indian starter, crisply battered fish amritsari yielded notes of ginger and carom seed. A superlative butter chicken was marinated with yoghurt and spices, served with unctuous tomato and cashew nut sauce. And finally, palak paneer arrived vivid green from the spinach puree, paired with garlic and cumin.

The curry dishes, plus sides. Photo: SE

The best dish? New on that day (and we hope it never disappears) were the blackened lamb chops, marinated for ten hours in roasted, powdered spices and yoghurt, grilled golden on the outside, and perfectly pink and juicy within. Dipped in a coriander green sauce they were delicious; the kind of plate you don’t want to end. Rice was fluffy, roti and blistered butter nan light and moreish. Oh, and there’s even an English menu too, should you prefer fish and chips or a burger.

What’s the service like? Extremely attentive. The team can’t do enough to help, and also offer advice to avoid over-ordering and therefore food waste – which we appreciated. We ate well but felt far from debilitatingly full, as can happen.

Krishna’s at the Marquess. Photo: SE

To drink? Wine starts at a reasonable £17.50 a bottle. Our Malbec matched the big flavours perfectly.

Breakfast? Slightly incongruously, it’s a classic Full English, with meaty sausages, eggs, crispy bacon and tasty mushrooms. Everything was present and correct, although perhaps in the future an Indian take on breakfast would really complete the experience, allowing a unique final memory of this singular cooking before checking out.

Lyddington village. The Marquess is just up the lane. Photo: SE

Now, how about a little sightseeing? This is an area with very rich local pickings. A couple of miles away is historic Rockingham Castle, while the village of Uppingham is walkable (around 30 mins) via a hilly path that runs alongside the main road. It’s worth the climb to its attractive market square, atmospheric 14th century church, independent shops, pubs and excellent coffee shops. Our tip? A smooth long black in the cosy candlelit historic back room at Scandimania.

Rutland Water
Winter fog: Rutland Water. Photo: SE

We also undertook a foggy hike in the mizzle around an hour’s section of the 22-mile perimeter of nearby Rutland Water (above); a must if you have a car.

And finally, stepping off the train, we enjoyed an impromptu lunch at Kitty’s Kitchen in Corby (below), a quirky shrine to Alice In Wonderland with theatrical set-like interior, cocktails in teapots, mammoth brunch plates (the meaty burrito is recommended), super-friendly owners and an all-important roaring fire.

Kitty's Kitchen
Magical: Kitty’s Kitchen. Photo: SE

Verdict: Rutland is inexplicably underrated; the fact that it’s only just over an hour on the train makes it even more special. And it goes without saying that Krishnapal Negi’s cooking – and the tiny village of Lyddington – is worth the trip alone.

We took the train to Corby (65 mins from St Pancras), then a short cab ride to the Marquess Of Exeter (£14). Double rooms start at £84, and Krishna’s, starters from £4, mains from £15. Find out more here.

Full accommodation was provided by the Marquess Of Exeter. 

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