Old Swan & Minster Mill
What We Love
- Full English breakfast is included in the rate
- Idyllic setting in a cute Cotswold village surrounded by thatch-roofed cottages
- Tons of original features dating from the 15th century
- Sloe gin, tea, coffee and shortbread cookies provided in the rooms
What To Know
- A car is essential if you want to explore the area. The nearest train station (Charlbury) is seven miles away
- It’s pet-friendly; dogs can be accommodated for an additional $30 per day
- Spa treatments are available, but there are plans for a pool, sauna and steam room in early 2015
- There is a minimum two-night stay policy on a Saturday
- Free WiFi
- Handicap Accessible
- Kids Club
- Parking On Site
Surrounded by 60 acres of wildflower meadow, the Old Swan & Minster Mill is a 15th-century coaching inn in the heart of the Cotswolds, a 90-minute drive from London. Clad in traditional honey-hued stone, this idyllic country pad is as cozy as it is characterful. Inside, it’s a warren of creaky-floored nooks and crannies complete with beam ceilings, rugged stone floors and crackling fires. The property is split into two parts: The original inn is home to a pub, restaurant and 16 guestrooms, and the newer Minster Mill contains sleek chalet-style quarters overlooking the babbling river Windrush.
Bed and Bath
In the original chunk of the property, rooms are reached by a wooden spiral staircase and lead off wonky corridors dotted with arty photos. They’re named after local luminaries or previous guests (Richard III, Churchill, Gladstone) and have a homey country house vibe, with thick stone walls, beam ceilings and quirky alcoves. Mighty wooden bed frames are piled high with pillows and burgundy bedspreads, and hot water bottles are tucked under the covers as part of the turn-down service. Writing bureaus are topped with glossy Cotswolds mags, a decanter of sloe gin, tea pots and shortbread cookies, and light-flooded bathrooms are dressed with fresh flowers and stocked with products from the White Company. The 40 chalet-style rooms in the two-tier Minster Mill were added in the 1970s, and all have sleek bathrooms and giant windows overlooking the gardens and river. Some come with private courtyards with firepits.
Grab a board game or a newspaper and sip a pint of real ale by the fire if the weather doesn’t allow you to take advantage of the deck chairs in the garden. Hearty pub grub is served during the day, and souped-up gastro classics are offered in the evening (Oxfordshire farm belly pork with mash and cider jus, Wychwood Forest venison, a mammoth cheese board heaving with hunks from Gloucestershire farms). Breakfast is taken in a wood-paneled room off the bar decorated with gilt-framed oil paintings, tapestries and wrought iron chandeliers, and it showcases an impressive lineup of locavore treats including fresh honeycomb and eggs laid by hens in the garden. The grounds are home to a croquet lawn, tennis courts and a petanque court, and bikes and fishing equipment can be rented from reception.
How to Get There
We do not usually complain and write bad reviews, however, we were left extremely disappointed after our stay last weekend. The area is beautiful and when driving up to the hotel we were excited. The village is idilic, and the Old Swan seems to compliment it perfectly. However, when we were taken to our room we were disheartened. For a '5* hotel', with prices of £176 for one night, we expected the room to be somewhat luxurious and thought through. The room was dark, small, and looked out onto a dingy courtyard with a dining room opposite. There was an extractor fan outside of our room too, perhaps from the kitchen, which provided a constant, unwelcome noise, even at night. The amenities were not that of a hotel room of that price. It would have been nice to at least have a mini fridge, ecspecially considering we couldn’t get cold water from the taps to drink, as they both had hot water coming out of them! There were hairs on the bed, towels and stains on the carpet and the slippers.
After the disappointment with the room, we were hoping that dinner would make up for things. Unfortunately, it only got worse! The dining room is stuffy and unappealing, with old air conditioning units hanging from the ceiling, and poor lighting. I'm not sure why they have decided to create a ‘formal’ dining room area that is not in- keeping with the more comfortable pub atmosphere.
The food was ineadible. I have never had to send food away before, but the quality of the food was appalling. Being pescatarian, we ordered a range of dishes that we could share. We had the courgette and feta fritters. When they came, 3 tiny fritters were chucked on a plate with a bit of soggy lettuce. The fritters were completely tasteless. We also had the risotto, which had no seasoning and was lukewarm. Then the fishcakes, which were bland at best. Quite simply, the prices were extortionate for the portion size / quality and ‘formal’ atmosphere of the restaurant. We eventually plucked-up the courage to complain, and the staff dealt with the issue in the best way that they could and we appreciated their help. The Duty Manager was very apologetic, but we do feel that this is an issue that really needs to be addressed long term.
This hotel has so much potential to be a wonderful place to stay, and clearly does draw in good custom, based on it’s lovely location. They are wasting such an opportunity here though, and are not putting enough effort into making the hotel a pleasant place to stay, as they are obviously just relying upon the location being enough. If we had not already complained about the dinner we would have also complained about the room, however, not wanting to ruin our weekend completely, we decided to leave it. There are plenty of far superior places to stay for the same price- don’t waste your money here.
1. The cleanliness of the room is unsatisfactory, find a bug on the bedsheet. Gross!
2. We booked a deluxe room and in booking.com which shows it is for two people, but later we are forced to pay ridiculous extra money because two people are going to sleep on that bed.
3. The swimming pool / spa is not usable, we are told it is fully booked even for the next few days. Don’t trust what you see on the website, they are unable to fulfill it at all even with a such small capacity of the hotel.
4. The food is unsavory. We ordered duck leg and steak for dinner. The duck leg is over fried, very very dry texture, the steak is cold at all, as well as the side tomato and chips, cold. Ordered crab omelette in the morning but find nothing but some scatter of crayfish.
We were staying at the Minster Mill (AMAZING place, highly recommend) and walked to the Swan for dinner and had high expectations for our anniversary dinner.
My feta and spinach fritter, starter was dismal, 3 of them arrived and they were tiny (but edible) with no flavour at all, my partner ordered the ‘Crispy bok choy’ which was infact battered and deep fat fried bok choy and it was inedible. He removed the leaves and ate those, no seasoning no flavour.
Mains he ordered duck which was clearly cooked and reheated as it was so chewy and tough – not how duck should be! I ordered the pork which was cooked well but the ‘truffle sauce’ was just gravy mixed with truffle oil – this would be the reason the whole place smells of truffle. I love truffle but this was too overpowering even as a truffle lover!
Dessert was so bad it was comical, we both ordered ‘apple and black berry crumble with custard’ we were served apple and blackberry with a SPRINKLE of crumbs and a thin ball of liquid milk type custard (very thin and the smallest jug you have ever seen)
The service was poor throughout, drinks took 15 mins at least each time, we asked 2 different people 3 times for the bill and then again had to flag TWICE for the card machine.
After our meal we returned to the Minster Mill hotel because the ambience in this place was just so bad, it could be a great little country pub (its beautiful from the outside) but seems they have attempted posh it up but failed so so miserably and its embarrassingly bad.
Also the menu on the website is not available on the day, and the menu is tiny (only 4 or 5 starters and 4 mains, where as the website shows a lot of choices) so don’t bother looking or choosing for the menu as you will be disappointed!
If you want our advice, find a nice honest pub that is half the price or head to the wild rabbit where they have nailed the 'posh pub' vibe.
Wow, Fantastic Place to stay,
Highly recommend, staff go out of there way to help, so cosy and friendly..........
Beautiful surroundings rooms nice and cosy,
Food was out of this world, food and drinks was priced well also
This hotel is truly beautiful. The food was amazing. Our room was clean, the bed was so comfortable. There are stunning walks and gardens. Spa was clean and I had the best massage I’ve ever had. Can’t wait to go back.