Is it possible for a castle to be a hidden gem? Surely it’s the most obvious of gems, stuck up there on the top of a hill, with its turrets and Kenergy, all look Look At Me vibes, whether it’s functioning, repurposed, or beaten to a pulp by the tag team of time and elements. And yet that’s how it’s being described at the bar of The Castle at Edgehill, a pub slash restaurant slash gin school slash rooms, that’s gently throbbing with custom on a windy December evening. We’re here mostly for the room part, but also a bit for the bar, and, in the morning some breakfast. Dinner is an eighteen minute drive away, which is fifteen minutes longer than I remember it being when I booked.

The room deserves a paragraph of its own, though it’s a disservice to call it a room or for you to only admire it via pictures. It’s massive. Like get lost massive. Like I could probably live here massive. The Cromwell suite has views over the fields of The Battle of Edgehill which I gather is a real battle site and not a runway theme on Ru Paul’s Drag Race. There is a box square living room with vaulted roof, big tv, games and enough room for a family, then down the corridor and into the bedroom of similar girth with window seat, big tv, bigger bed, and dressing area. The bathroom also has one of those giant windows and a seat, no tv, flashy shower and too much room to make you want to rush anywhere. I certainly didn’t, meaning that we were a good fifteen minutes late for dinner, though mostly because I thought I’d booked dinner three minutes away.

We reach The Bell Inn at Ladbroke under the cover of darkness, it’s white bricked frontage handsomely lit. Inside it’s the quintessential Cotswold pub; a dog lay by the roaring fire, heavy wooden furniture and walls painted an expensive shade of studio green. We offer apologies for being late, though they work to a much slower clock here. A quick local gin, then wine, with the welcome addition of pastry bites dusted with smoked paprika.

The food fits the surroundings, as in it’s comforting and earnest. Scallops of The Day are four robust queenies, set either side of three falafel flavoured with red pepper, and on a minted pea purée. And whilst I would usually go to town on a zig zag of balsamic it serves a purpose here in an almost molasses-like way in Middle Eastern cooking. I have a whole Camembert despite the warning that it’s huge. It is. I really liked the nut crumble, and the tomato chilli relish that reminded me of Dishoom, and the confit garlic. Did I finish it? I tried, and that’s all that matters.

Dish of the night by some distance is the chicken stuffed with ‘nduja. The meat is clearly from an excellent butcher, treated simply to slow heat, lots of butter, and a good hand of seasoning. The oil from the ‘nduja has leaked on to the baked new potatoes underneath, coating them a Barbie pink of pork fat and spice. There is creamed leeks for added richness. It’s big in posture and flavours. It’s ideal pub food for this place in this moment. Sophie has duck with greens, cherries, and a fondant spud, in a jus of the roasting juices. The duck is cooked medium – how I prefer it – and is again properly seasoned.

Desserts left. There is a pear that’s quite over poached and has lost a little of its integrity, though the liquor has gorgeous mulled notes running throughout. I have what I still consider to be a genius idea some several weeks later. Banana bread drenched in toffee sauce, with Biscoff ice cream. It’s sticky toffee pudding for the lazy home cook; a sticky, dense hit of sugar and dopamine, destined to be replicated at a thousand dinner parties. Starters and mains never reach a tenner, whilst most mains are mid-teens. It’s all very enjoyable and extremely affordable.

Fully rested, the following morning we have breakfast at The Castle at Edgehill, overlooking the battle field with the patter of light rain against the glass. Some eggs Benedict and a veggie breakfast, washed down with caffeine and juice. Sylwia, the excellent GM, suggests we take the rural walk, though we choose instead to take pictures of one another on the bridges between the turrets high above the pub. Both The Castle at Edgehill and The Bell Inn are owned by the same group and could easily be described as gems. One is hidden, the other very much obvious. Both are less than an hour from Brum and are well worth a visit.