Swanning it in the Cotswolds
Riddle escapes for the weekend to a quaint, tranquil countryside inn. Or is it?
Review by Andy Barnham
On appearances, anyone stumbling across the Old Swan & Minster Mill could easily mistake the Cotswolds hotel as a quaint countryside inn. Low ceilings, squeaky wooden floors and log fires certainly do their best to convince visitors that they have stumbled across a hidden countryside gem. However, anyone wishing to inspect this jewel in more detail will find that the sparkle goes much further than their first impressions of the 600-year-old coaching inn and mill.
The Inn & Mill are the gateway to 59 rooms including a cottage, various conference facilities, spa, gym and 65 acres of grounds which include gardens, meadows, a croquet lawn, a fire pit and tennis court. Purchased by the de Savory family in 2010, the Inn & Mill were renovated with the aim of maintaining their heritage and avoiding that corporate feel that permeates so many other similar hotels. Indeed, such is the pull of the Inn & Mill that one of de Savory daughters was married in the grounds and booked the whole shebang for her guests.
The Inn’s rooms have the rustic charm you would expect of a centuries old building, and we enjoyed the bliss of a four poster bed (even if the mattress was a tad too soft for my liking). The Mill offers more modern lodgings: the river-view rooms, which have a small terrace and a fire pit, are particularly attractive.
Throughout the Inn & Mill, the attention to detail is wonderful. Home-made fudge and sloe gin welcome the visitor to their room (there are also marshmallows in the rooms with fires – a delicious touch). The turndown service with hot water bottle was a comforting discovery, even if my dog found it before I did. For those who wish to fish, there is angling gear available and free to use.
For those who wish to wander the Cotswolds, three different routes of varying length and time are mapped out and on offer. For those with dogs, dog training is available. For those who… well, I’m sure you get the idea by now. And if there does happen to be anything not to your liking, the Inn & Mill has five guest hosts whose role it is to ensure customer satisfaction. Indeed, the service and level of attention from all the staff is excellent: guest host, reception staff and waiters alike.
Food at the Inn & Mill is made with local ingredients (the honey served at breakfast comes from their own hives) and is stunning: the presentation of the meals is definitely a cut above your average gastro- pub.
It would be remiss not to mention the dog friendly nature of this place. Rooms are available for those who wish to bring their four legged friends which include food, bowls and dog beds (mine decided to eschew hers and spent the night on the main bed). Training courses are available and dogs are expected with their owners when dining. There are two dining rooms, one which allows dogs and one which does not. While the staff don’t receive any special dog training, their love for man’s best friend is obvious and all were very polite and understanding of mine.
Also worth noting, the Inn & Mill is a stone’s throw – well, four miles – from RAF Brize Norton and has a special military offer for those returning from an operational tour. For those on their way there, or who have just returned and are looking for a night to stay locally, the Inn & Mill is a must. In case of any last minute changes of plans, the Inn & Mill are happy to field calls late into the night and will do their best to help.
Enquiries: Old Swan & Minster Mill, Old Minster, Minster Lovell, Oxfordshire, Cotswolds, OX29 0RN, ENGLAND /01993 774441 / firstname.lastname@example.org / www.oldswanandminstermill.com