As the summer of staycations continues, if you’re looking for a luxury Cotswolds hotel within two hours of London, this is just the ticket. Nestled on the River Windrush, Minster Mill is perfectly positioned for hours of pretty countryside rambles, leisurely bike rides, and even a spot of fishing. Rebecca Cox checks in to check it out.
Minster Mill Hotel Review
With Gidleigh Park and Bath Priory in its stable, you know what to expect from an Andrew Brownsword hotel: a beautiful setting, comfortable, stylish rooms and a welcoming, competent staff. Minster Mill delivers on all three. Redesigned and refurbished in 2019, the former wedding venue and events centre still has a slight corporate hangover in the layout, but the attractive Cotswold stone buildings and charming riverside position make for an inviting proposition.
The 38 rooms and suites are decorated in a simple and chic neutral palette with a Scandi feel; think light, uncluttered walls and pale soft furnishings. Outside of the main hotel building sit six garden rooms and six river-view rooms with terraces featuring private fire pits. The seven suites feature spacious baths along with walk-in showers and pretty views of the gardens and River Windrush. You’ll also spy the hotel’s hydropower turbine in place of the old mill, the first of its kind for a UK hotel, which harnesses the power of the river to supply much of the site’s electricity in a commitment to championing green energy.
The three AA rosette restaurant at Minster Mill is a beautiful place to spend an evening, with high vaulted ceilings with oak beams and plenty of light if you’re dining in summer. Head chef Tom Moody serves up a small but excellent dinner menu championing seasonal, local produce. Current favourites include the charred asparagus served with egg yolk and preserved lemon and the beef main, rounded off, if you can manage it, with a selection of delicious Paxton & Whitfield cheeses. Breakfast and afternoon tea are best enjoyed on the terrace if the weather allows, with the river running behind you and grounds and gardens stretching ahead of you waiting to be explored.
The Old Swan across the road is Minster Mill’s sister property and another great spot for a relaxed afternoon drink or a pub meal. Pies are the order of the day at the Old Swan and while we didn’t get around to trying one, we’re still regretting it. If you go further afield, The Lamb Inn at Crawley is a local favourite and a real country gem for elevated pub cuisine in a cosy and stylish garden setting.
There are 64 acres of gardens, fields, wildflower meadows and streams to ramble through, paths that lead to here, there and nowhere, so a stroll around the grounds is an absolute minimum when it comes to outdoor pursuits at Minster Mill. There are tennis courts, bicycles for hire, lawn games and even a stretch of the river for fishing, so if you’re extending your minibreak into a proper holiday, you won’t get bored. The village of Minster Lovell itself is small but perfectly formed, explore the ruins of Minster Lovell Hall (free) and wander along the river, or simply follow your feet and decide which of the surrounding villages you’ll retire to. The Garden Spa, serving up luxury ESPA treatments is also a must for easing post-lockdown tensions. Further afield you can indulge in some retail therapy at Bicester Village (22 miles), follow historical or culture pursuits in Oxford (15 miles) or chase royal dreams at Blenheim Palace (11 miles).
THE FINAL WORD
Pretty as a picture, this cosy Cotswolds bolthole delivers exactly what you’re looking for for your next escape from the city. The best bit? A river runs through it.
Double rooms from £180 | minstermill.co.uk | 01993 774441.