Sleepover: Horse and Groom, Stow on the Wold, Gloucestershire
Sunday 25 November 2001
Where is it?
Where is it?
In the middle of Upper Oddington, one of the nicest villages in the Cotswolds and a mile from the Chipping Norton/Stow road (A436).
What's it like?
There's been a pub here since the 16th century, but last year it was spruced up by new owners. So you still get the old beams and real fires, local stone floors etc associated with old English pubs, but you can also get a proper cappuccino (made from a proper cappuccino/ espresso machine).
What's its USP?
Fantastically friendly and efficient service, of the kind you hope to get from an "inn" but never do. All the staff are able to provide a definitive answer – there's no passing the buck. This makes it seem like a family affair, although it is not. And no music is played in the pub, although once a month or so there is a live band.
Bustling but also – thanks to the no-music policy – relaxing and fairly genteel. A bit like the pubs you see in television-land that don't actually exist.
See USP. Friendly but informal. My visit coincided with one of the most stressful weekends of the year but all my requests were met with calm helpfulness and nothing was too much trouble. Food was brought up to my room, they let me use their phone line to send emails and they found, saved and ultimately sent on by registered post my very precious notebook, which I'd left behind (they had no idea I was a journalist). I felt wonderfully looked after.
Seven bedrooms, all en-suite with showers, although one (room five) has a bath. Four of the rooms have double beds, three have twins. The rooms are pretty small but clean and cosy, with Irish linen quilts. All have televisions.
The menu is the opposite of those fancy "confit of this" and "jus of that" but it suffers for it – the food is actually much better than the descriptions would have you believe. The chef is French, although he cooks pretty traditional English stuff: rack of lamb, fillet steak etc. There are also bar snacks: ploughmans, pâtés and the like. Main meals cost about £8, bar food starts from £4. The restaurant seats 80.
A healthy mix of locals and "tourists", young and old. This being horsey country there are lots of jockeys and trainers, apparently.
Things to do?
Walk, mostly, and build up an appetite and a reason to sit by the fire and warm up again with a good brandy. Riding, clay-pigeon shooting and fishing can all be had locally. But really this is the ideal place to relax and do nothing.
Horse and Groom Village Inn, Stow on the Wold, Upper Oddington, Gloucestershire, GL56 OXH (01451 830584).
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