Sleepover: Crazy Bear Hotel

A bed for the night in Oxfordshire
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The Independent Travel

Where is it?

Where is it?

In Stadhampton. Just off the M40 and a stone's throw from Oxford.

What's it like?

Crazy, of course. At first glance it's an old country pub. But look again. That's champagne on tap in the bar and a bathtub at the bottom of your bed.

What's its USP?

It's a splendid contradiction. Enjoy dinner and a pint (there's beer, too) in the cosy ancient inn and then retire with your lover to a fantasy world of zebra-print carpets, phallic headboards and widescreen TVs. The perfect venue for a Valentine's treat.

Ambience?

Seriously relaxed. Even the middle-aged couples leave their suits and ties at home.

Service?

Friendly and helpful. It may look like a fancy pub but the service confirms it's a hotel.

Rooms?

As well as five art deco rooms above the bar (one with a Japanese bath inside a cupboard), and two cottages for larger parties, the hotel has four suites in an extension. We stayed in one of these, the Striped room, dominated by a bed on a plinth with a double bath at its foot. Pleasure is the order of the day: the open-plan design mixes the minimalist with the kitsch, with light stone, glass and beech offset by Louis XIV-style gold furniture, a tiger-skin rug (with head) and Venetian mirrors. You'd better be an intimate couple – just a half wall separates off the loo and the open shower. Doubles from £80-£190 per room per night for a couple.

Food and drink?

English à la carte upstairs, Thai brasserie downstairs. Or you can avoid starting the night off with a row about where to eat by booking a table in the bar, where both menus are available. I tried the English menu: rock oysters with spicy chorizo in a light batter (£8.50), grilled lemon sole with a potato purée that melted in the mouth (£16.50). My partner went Thai: marinated king prawns in rice paper with plum sauce (£5.95), roast duckling breast with tamarind sauce, (£11.95). A taste sensation, he said – high praise, indeed.

Clientele?

Business travellers in the week, couples at the weekend. We visited on a Friday night and were probably the oldest guests at breakfast – at 35 and 37 years old. Ages and social class are refreshingly mixed in the bar and restaurants.

Things to do?

Thai massage is available – if you can be bothered to get out of bed.

Address?

Crazy Bear Hotel, Bear Lane, Stadhampton, Oxfordshire OX44 7UR (01865 890714; www.crazybearhotel.co.uk).

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