Hotel review: Castle Inn, Lancashire

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When Jayne Ledsham first walked into the Castle it was in a sorry state. Holes in the roof had even left several inches of snow on the upper floor. This historic inn had become a blot on Hornby, an attractive old stone village in the lustrously green Lune Valley, near Lancaster.

Today, the Castle is transformed. Ledsham reopened it in November as a bar, bistro and function room with accommodation. An antiques dealer and interior designer, she has done a fine job of dressing the immaculate bedrooms. The centrepiece in mine was a handsome 1920s gentleman's wardrobe. I will think of it wistfully next time I'm schlepping around Ikea.

Upstairs, there isn't a right-angle in the place – the floors slope all over. Such character comes at a modest price, in the form of the odd sticking door, a wavering Wi-Fi signal or even a tiny antique table used as a rather fiddly tea "stand", but broadly it's slick. My bathroom merged vintage style with all the flushing, gushing water pressure you could ever need.

More significant is the noise. Those Georgian windows don't do much to deaden the road traffic or local church bells. Music and chatter drifting up from the bar (room three, mine, was above it) is different. As you're getting changed, it's an audible promise of good times. Particularly if you plan to be down there until last orders. If not, bring your earplugs.

That bar is fake pub (a stylised hotchpotch of leather bucket seats and art deco mirrors, country kitchen tables and woodburning stoves), but good fake pub. The muted lighting, the locals laughing at the bar, the attentive, easy-going service – it's a family-affair, with husband Chris and one of the Ledshams' sons on duty – mean that, at the end of a hard week, it's a place you could easily settle into. For a session. As one menu board reads: "Whoever said laughter is the best medicine clearly never tasted wine."

The Castle's locally sourced food is restorative, too. The diverse menu of affordable pub classics, pizza and more complex restaurant dishes might ring alarm bells. But chef Rob Muncaster knows his onions. The spiced mayo could have been dialled down and plating on slate is a bit OTT in a pub, but a starter of oat-coated mackerel with beetroot salad was well-executed and tasty. Likewise the main, braised shin of beef. For dessert, a good crumble came with a terrific clean, precise custard.

Breakfast was on-point too, several touches – not least an offer of super-strong, sleep-busting tea – illustrative of the attention to detail in play. Warm and professional, the Castle has a good feel. As a base for the Lakes or the Dales, or simply as a place to decompress, it's a keeper.

• First TransPennineExpress, which has singles from Manchester to Lancaster from ?6 ( provided transport. See

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