Cozy, $$ (From $155)
OXFORDSHIRE, England - When a set of friends with impeccable taste recommend a hotel in the countryside, my interest is piqued. When another set of friends with equally impeccable taste and a kid recommend the same hotel, then I start checking the calendar for the best time to get away. For this is my life now that I have a four-month-old – when I travel, I travel with a bath seat. And while I now have baby needs when it comes to a mini-break, I still have my needs (i.e. a stylish, comfortable, unpretentious place with a bit of character). With that, my husband, baby, and I set off to , two hours outside London, and found all our needs truly met.
At a Glance
Style: A charming 16th-century former farmhouse complete with thatched roof ... and ceramic penguins at the door. Quirk meets quaint right from the start, underscored by short wooden doors and sizable mirrored cross studded with light bulbs (one of the multiple artworks scattered throughout the property) opposing the entryway alcove.
Standout Detail: The pub. It is a den of coziness and the heart of the property. A delightful inglenook fireplace takes center stage (there is another fireplace in the bar area). With its inviting nooks and funky art, it is the perfect place to escape to once you’ve finally settled your baby to sleep upstairs.
This Place is Perfect For: Couples (book the , a stunningly converted standalone trailer for the ultimate romantic mini-break), families in the baby stage (the kids require little entertainment and the sleep-deprived parents require immediate access to a lovely pub). The hotel is working on providing more activities for bigger kids like guided walks and a glamping site.
Five rooms in the eves of the pub, all furnished with stylish rustic-chic pieces. We stayed in the , where majestic timber beams loomed over our gloriously huge bed studded with a striking Moroccan-print headboard. Roberts radio, eclectic art, a floral ceramic tea set, and wire basket full of mini bar snacks all add to the boho-luxe feel. We appreciated the spacious, beautifully tiled bathroom complete with roll-top bath and separate walk-in shower. The same stylish touches apply outside in the three converted barns (four more are in the works) which make for truly lovely suites. And then there is that shepherd’s hut, which is pure romance on (static) wheels.
Just the pub/restaurant for now. Plans for a spa and event space, as well as the aforementioned glamping site, are in the works.
Food and Drink
Good, solid British gastropub food (the likes of whitebait, fish and chips, roast chicken, and steak are all done well). They are between head chefs right now, so I sensed the menu will evolve to become a little more spectacular, but it by no means under-delivered during our stay. The same menu is being served in the restaurant and the bar, the only difference being the seating (rust-colored banquettes in the restaurants, wooden chairs and benches in the bar). While we are not exactly big drinkers at the moment, I did sample a signature cocktail (for research, of course). The Garden Cup consists of gin, elderflower, and lime. I imagine it to be especially lethal on a summer’s day in the pub’s beer garden. More suited for a mid-January evening in front of the fire was a delicious glass of nutty, fulsome Prosecco. Breakfast was spot-on and I especially appreciated not being charged extra for having it delivered to our room (a real treat when you’ve been up between 4:30 a.m. and 6 a.m.).
Rates change seasonally and start at $155 per night. , or the Popupla Concierge and we can plan your trip for you.
What to do Nearby
Technically situated at the gateway to the Cotswolds, a handful of bucolic towns including Burford, Broadway, and Burton-on-the-water are all a short-ish drive away. As is , the organic farm and farm shop that has the feel and price point of a Gwyneth Paltrow grocery store.