Sleepover: Crazy Bear Hotel
A bed for the night in Oxfordshire
Kate Simon is the Travel Correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. She was Travel Editor of The Independent on Sunday from 2005 to 2011. Kate is also the co-founder of Little Black Book Creative (www.lbbcreative.co.uk), which offers editorial services, media relations consultancy and travel-writing training.
Sunday 13 January 2002
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.
Seriously relaxed. Even the middle-aged couples leave their suits and ties at home.
Friendly and helpful. It may look like a fancy pub but the service confirms it's a hotel.
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.
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.
Crazy Bear Hotel, Bear Lane, Stadhampton, Oxfordshire OX44 7UR (01865 890714; www.crazybearhotel.co.uk).
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