We live in a very weird world, and that's not to mention anything to do with politics. Just this week I found myself defending the presentation of The Swan's pie on twitter to a "chef" who told me that the mash should have been quenilled [sic] with a little jus around the plate and some fresh watercress. I told him he was very wrong, and it's not the 90s anymore. Nobody puts watercress on top of food nowadays do they?
It's been a couple of years since I visited The Swan and lots has changed in that time. Most importantly it has been taken over by Sam and Georgie Pearman, the original founders of The Lucky Onion, with pubs like the brilliant Chequers at Churchill which they still own and the delightful Wheatsheaf at Northleach which they don't.
The pub has changed a bit too. Thinking back it was slightly disjointed but certainly not unpleasant. There was an odd little room if you entered the pub through the door on the road. That has gone has become an extension to the bar area with a few nice tables. The dining room which once had outlandish green walls, green wallpaper, and lots of flowers (the former owner was an interior and floral stylist) now boasts more subtle blues and looks more like a restaurant than someone's living room. There was a roaring fire in the other bar surrounded by the best seats in the house and a lovely room, perfect for celebrations and shoot parties leading out onto the courtyard garden which I imagine would be a nice spot in the summer. The pub has a warmer feel throughout.
It's very rare I order bread, or ever bother to talk about it when I do. However, the Chipping Norton sourdough came with horseradish and dripping butter which is very much worth shouting about.
I'm always torn between dishes and usually leave up to the waiter or waitress to decide for me. It was between the BBQ native prawns, English peas, Chipping Norton nduja and mussels. Without any hesitation, the prawns won. They were huge, messy (the water bowl and napkin both turned the colour your fingers go after eating a packet of Wotsits) and brilliant. I've never had peas with prawns before but it worked, and the nduja-fueled juice at the bottom of the copper bowl was incredibly good to for dipping the spelt toast in.
I wasn't torn for my main. It was 3 degrees outside and I wanted a pie. Chicken and leek or ox cheek and smoked bacon, and choosing the latter wasn't a difficult choice. It arrived standing wonderfully unpretentious on a bed of mash and gravy. It was a thing of beauty and yes Mr Angry Twitter Chef stuck in a different decade, there was no need for spooned mash or watercress. If anything, it could have done with an extra small jug of gravy as the mashed soaked it up like a sponge. The side of squash and cavolo nero, curly kale to you and me, was a decent addition.
This was some of the best pub food I have eaten in quite a while. I have a lot of time for places who have a one main menu fits all for lunch and dinner too.
The Swan will lure locals (there's a special menu in the bar with a £10 dish on every day ) and Londeners alike (there's a station in Ascott where one train a day stops from The Big Smoke). There are also 8 rooms at the pub for anyone wanting to make a couple of days of it which we would obviously highly recommend.
Food pictured is;
Ox Cheek and Smoked Bacon Pie
Crispy Cacklebean Egg
Triple ‘Ham’ Burger, Savoy Slaw, Toffee Apple Sauce, Blue Affine, Tabacco Onions, Alabama Fries
After an extensive four-year-long renovation, The Harcourt Arms in in the charming Oxfordshire village of Stanton Harcourt has reopened its doors to the public.
Headed up by Olivier Bonte, former GM of No.131 and Alan Gleeson, previously Head Chef of The Lucky Onion’s No.131 and No.38 The Park, The Harcourt Arms will offer exceptional pub food using the finest produce, ingredients sourced through long-standing relationships with ethical suppliers.
The drinks menu will feature beer and wine from small but talented producers across the world with amazing brands such as Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc, William Chase Rose and Chateau Musar alongside Hook Norton Beers, Butcombe and Timothy Taylors Landlord. They will also be serving up delicious cocktails such as Negroni with a twist, proper Espresso Martini and their very own Bloody Mary, allowing guests to order an old favourite or try something new.
Since the renovation, there are an additional 10 individually style en-suite bedrooms, making this 17th-century pub with rooms ideal for both leisure and business needs.
With the local community at its heart, The Harcourt Arms have created The Harcourt Stores, which will offer luxury, artisan produce alongside healthy everyday essentials. A one-stop-shop for locals, there will be fresh coffee, cured and smoked produce,sweet treats and everyday essentials.
The ultimate village pub with a home away from home feel makes it the perfect place to visit.
One of Bristol’s brightest star chef’s is coming to take over the kitchen at Tetbury’s The Priory Inn.
New head chef Tom Bannister has worked at some of Bristol’s best eateries including a head chef role at The Souk Kitchen.He is planning to introduce a new, more casual approach to dinning focusing on the social side of eating, using the charming dining space at The Priory.
The Arkell’s Brewery hotel has undergone a management makeover since Greg Heath took over the reins of the hotel in July.
Barons Eden Limited, represented by Savills, has brought four assets in the Cotswolds to the market.
The assets in the portfolio are Huxleys Restaurant and Island House, both in Chipping Campden; The Dial House Hotel in Bourton-on-the-Water and The Old Bank in Moreton-in-Marsh. The portfolio is available to purchase either individually or as a whole.
Housed in a seventeenth century building, Huxleys Restaurant in the heart of Chipping Campden, offers 100 covers across both inside and outside space, including two private dining rooms. Island House, on Chipping Campden’s high street, provides a rare opportunity to create a new food and beverage offering.
The Dial House Hotel provides 15 boutique rooms all of which are en-suite alongside two recently renovated dining areas and a bar lounge. Prominently located in the centre of the picturesque high street of Bourton-on-the-Water, there’s ample opportunity for further development of the grounds.
The Old Bank in Moreton-in-Marsh town centre has planning to convert to a 10 bedroom hotel with restaurant and bar and would suit a range of other uses subject to planning permission.
Adrian Pearson of Barons Eden Limited adds: “We are choosing to sell our Cotswold assets in order to concentrate on expanding our portfolio of larger hotels and spas.”
James Greenslade, associate director in the hotels team at Savills, comments: “These four charming assets provide a rare opportunity to acquire properties in the picturesque Cotswolds villages. Each one is unique in its character and all provide a range of opportunities for new owners, in particular the redevelopment of Island House could work well in conjunction with the existing operation at Huxleys.”
The Dormy House Hotel launched their brand new restaurant, The Back Garden, today.
The Back Garden celebrates the finest ingredients from the Cotswolds including high-welfare rare-breed meats, veg grown in our own gardens and responsibly cultivated grains, all sourced and served in tune with the rhythms of nature.
This week saw us launch out Top 50 Pubs in the Cotswolds guide.
We are spoiled for choice when it comes to great pubs and this list was incredibly hard to complile. We hope you enjoy visiting many of these throughout the year!
Lots of hotels from the Cotswolds have made it into The Sunday Times Top 100 list that was published today.
The Bell at Langford came out on top with it's food, atmosphere and value for money all being recognised.
Here are all the others that made the list;
The Painswick, Painswick
No 38 The Park, Cheltenham
Foxhill Manor, Broadway
Artist Residence Mason Arms, South Leigh, Nr Whitney
The Kings Head Inn, Bledington
The Fish Hotel, Broadway
Soho Farmhouse, Great Tew
The Lygon Arms, Broadway
Grove Lodge, Bath
Cowley Manor, Nr Cheltenham
You can see the lists that include hotels from our region by clicking the links below.
The readers of Condé Nast Traveler have rated their top hotels in the United Kingdom, outside of London, and included three from the Cotswolds in their top 10.
The Lygon Arms in Broadway was highest ranked at number three with The Gainsborough Bath Spa (4th) and Barnsley House near Cirencester (7th).
Click HERE to see the top 10.
The thing about growing old is that you have to give up certain things as adults, but that is all about to change at The Fish Hotel in Broadway with the arrival of three spectacular treehouses.
Due for completion in Spring 2018, each of these 50 sq m awesome retreats have been designed around the foot of an oak tree and include a ensuite bathrooms, a wood-burning stove, underfloor heating, an outdoor bath and importantly, a remarkably well stocked minibar.
Each treehouse is tailor-made for back-to-nature romantic seclusion as well as perfectly suited to forest-loving families with a taste for luxury as they can accommodate up to five people in one double, two twins and a sofa bed. One will be dog friendly too so you enjoy this woodland adventure with the whole family!
Keep an eye on The Fish Hotel's Instagram which will have as-it-happens updates and contact
www.thefishhotel.co.uk for more information.
For any keen traveller, hotelier or Sunday Times peruser, the 'Best 100 Places to Stay' guide has become a voice of authority when looking for a break in the UK. Yesterday, the 5th annual guide was published and 9 out of the "nation's best" 100 hotels are based here in the Cotswolds.
The guide is separated into 10 categories; Foodie, Budget, Seaside, City, Country, Family, Spas, Romantic, B&B and Pubs.
Here are the 9 establishments that featured with words taken from The Sunday Times
The Rectory Hotel, Nr Malmesbury
Former music-industry executive Alex Payne wanted his renovation of this lovely Cotswold manor in Crudwell to be both country and rock 'n' roll. The Georgian sitting rooms are bucolic and relaxed, but the mirror-backed, marble-topped bar is built for bad behavior.
Way before that, there's the prospect of modern British classics such as veal with baby artichoke and pork chop with capers in the conservatory dining room. The 18 rooms have original beams, velvet bedheads and cool art on the walls.
Doubles from £150 B&B
The Painswick, Painswick
This one scores a full house in Cotswolds-cliché bingo: a mullioned 18th-century mansion surrounded by mellow-stone cottages, overlooking the fulsome folds of the Slad Valley, outside Stroud. It's surprisingly affordable, which helped it win our Hotel of the Year crown in 2016.
There's a cocktail bar in an old chapel, a dinky spa and a tongue-in-cheek vibe (witness the Full Elvis breakfast, with waffles and peanut butter). The 16 rooms offer high-quality finishes and thoughtful touches such as homemade madeleines.
Doubles from £129
Soho Farmhouse, Great Tew
Soho Farmhouse's 40 cabins, set in 100 acres in Great Tew, nail the rustic-chic look, with slatted walls, woodburning stoves and homespun furniture. An electric milk float does the rounds dispensing "prinks" (pre-party drinks), and you'll want to spend time in the Boathouse, which has a magnificent 135ft indoor/outdoor pool, linked by a bridge to the vast spa.
Doubles from £350
The Bull Hotel, Fairford
There could be famous faces at the bar of this newcomer in the Cotswold town of Fairford - Kate Moss and Gary Barlow are friends of the owners - but it's the bull's head mounted over the fireplace that steals the limelight.
Downstairs, the decor is a theatrical mix of bottle-green walls, nostalgic photos and a coffee table inlaid with crystals. There's a candlelit dining room in the converted stables, and the 21 rooms feature Egyptian-cotton linens, feather duvets and vintage pieces.
Doubles from £100, B&B
The Fish Hotel, Broadway
High design values combine with plenty of highchairs at this bucolic bolthole outside the sleepy Cotswolds village of Broadway.
There's a cosy bar and a laid-back lounge that has a central woodburner, patchworks of comfy chairs in biscuity fabrics and shelves of fresh herbs. The staff, who could outlast and children's TV presenter for enthusiasm and energy, are on hand to organise activities in the Fish's 400-acre playground, including archery, off-roading and Segway safaris.
The 68 bedrooms are spread across four buildings and are fairly compact, with cosy armchairs and sheepskin throws, and there are five Hilly Huts - more woodburners, hot tub, private deck - aimed at couples.
Family rooms from £200 B&B
Calcot Manor, Tetbury
Don't feel too guilty about abandoning the kids as you soak in a lavender-lined outdoor hot tub, staring across at a roaring fire. They're in good hands at Calcot, which has Ofsted-registered nannies, arts and crafts for under-8s, PlayStations and a 12-seat cinema for bigger boys and girls, and babysitting for £10 an hour. The spa had a £300,000 makeover this year, including an impressive refit of the gym. We loved the muscle-melting Hydrotherm treatment, where you lie on warm-water cushions.
The bedrooms at this converted farm outside Tetbury do a nice line in understated glamour. Dress up for modern British dishes at the Conservatory restaurant; if you'd rather keep it casual. skinny jeans will do just fine at the Glumstool Inn, Calcot's own country pub. Yes, it does fish and chips.
Doubles from £209, B&B. Family rooms from £229 B&B
Artist Residence (Mr Hanbury's Mason Arms), South Leigh
This is the fourth in a much-loved mini chain of quirky properties, after London, Brighton and Penzance, and the group’s first foray into the countryside. The whimsical approach of the owners, Justin and Charlie Salisbury, transfers brilliantly to this 16th-century thatched pub in the cutesy village of South Leigh, outside Oxford.
Downstairs, there’s a higgledy-piggledy little warren of rooms with flagstone floors, beamed ceilings, oak panels, open hearths, deep leather armchairs and a couple of bars. So far, so standard nice country pub. Yet most country pubs don't have photo galleries of French wrestlers on the walls, or framed girlie playing-card posters, or loos with reclaimed prison-cell doors. Their dining rooms don't have acid-trip floral wallpaper or display cases with human skulls. The food's good, with the talented Leon Smith sicking to tasty classics such as steak with triple-cooked chips.
To win our romantic category, though, a hotel needs to score in the bedroom department. The five here are built into eaves and beamed, with luxurious Volga linen on the extravagant beds and powerful rainforest showers. (The Farmhouse Suite has a freestanding copper bath.) Six more rooms and a cafe housed in outbuildings will arrive next year.
Doubles from £130, B&B
Foxhill Manor, Broadway
First impressions are important. At Foxhill Manor, a sophisticated Arts and Crafts mansion outside of the Cotswold village of Broadway, they'r egathered with bubbly in hand in the stylish sitting room, watching the drama of the Malvern Hills unfold through the window while the faff of check-in is taken care of.
There are eight bedrooms, each one unique: Cupid has a four-poster and side-by-side freestanding baths. There's a cinema for reruns of Casablanca or Gone with the Wind, and dinner can be eaten pretty much anywhere that takes your fancy.
Doubles from £380, B&B
The Bower House, Shipston on Stour
The man behind this excellent restaurant with rooms in Shipston on Stour is Andrew Knight, a former editor of The Economist and the chairman of Times Newspapers. he has teamed up with his novelist daughter Afsaneh, and theyve spent big and, on the available evidence, wisely.
The five bedrooms are six-star havens with bespoke super-king beds. Some have huge shuttered Georgian windows, others light-filled bathrooms with Moorish tiles and marble-topped baths.
Paul Merrony, who gained a loyal following at his Giaconda Dining Room, in London, oversees the menu.
Doubles from £130, B&B
Click HERE to see the full list of the 100 top British hotels