When we first pulled up to the Old Swan & Minster Mill, I was instantly intrigued and inwardly delighted. The hotel is a village within a village, literally 60 rooms and a few cottages that resembles a small village. It has so much charm with its dose of traditional English culture and stunning setting, with a 18th century mill located on the River Windrush across 65 acres. It’s right down the road from a cathedral and authentic ruins from Minster Lovell Hall, a 15th century Oxfordshire manor house, and the nearby scenery is dynamic. In addition, the hotel also offers a tennis court, cycling, fishing, an apiary, a kids’ activity center and onsite dining where they serve gastro-pub style food. History for me, fun for the kids. I had literally died and gone to heaven.
Staying at Old Swan & Minster Mill
It definitely felt like a stay in a 600 year old village inn with the ruins right down the road, but it also felt very current. The inn was acquired by the de Savary family in 2010, and they have restored many of the bedrooms which vary in size and budget ranges. We were lucky, as a family, to stay in the Swan Cottage, right next to the pub, which was perfect for a family of my size. It has a real turn-of-the-century feel with its thatched roof. Inside there was a big master bedroom, a bedroom for each of my kids, a private garden, a semi-kitchen (with a small fridge and tea kettle), a lovely family room with a TV and DVDs that appeal to all ages. We had free Wifi, and best of all, since I was traveling with a teenager, several bathrooms. We also had a private driveway for our rental car. The cottage was also very comfortable for all of us and had great views.
I was also really impressed with the amount of activity at the hotel. I admittedly hadn’t expected it, and I got all the information I needed from a pleasant woman at reception. We went fishing – they gave us equipment and we went trout fishing in the river. We played tennis. We took out bikes and rode to nearby Crawley. We checked out the hens and rabbits, which are great for little kids. We played table tennis at night after dinner. And of course we checked out Minster Lovell Hall, which is dazzling and offers ample space for kids to run around. We also took a few well mapped out, self-guided walks in the beautiful countryside. There’s a gym, which I also utilized, and a new spa and pool will open later this year.
While we did venture offsite for many of our meals, we dined at the hotel on our first night and had breakfast there every morning. Breakfast is included. It’s traditional English fare, a buffet plus à la carte cooked dishes, which is served in the bar and restaurant, which served my family well. The dining room is super cozy with log fires and stone floors, adding to its atmospheric charm. Our evening meal was served on the garden terrace and it was a meal for a mamaleh like me to feel good about. Chef David Mwita uses fresh local ingredients and offers many healthy options including nice salads and smoked salmon. There are traditional dishes like haddock, venison steak, maple turkey and salmon. There are also goat cheese tarts, rack of lamb and chocolate tart, and they were all delicious.
To top it off, the hotel has a commitment to green energy. Much of the Old Swan is run on hydro power, harnessing the power of the river.
All in all, a special experience and one that I highly recommend for anyone visiting the Cotswolds in England. Visit their web site for more information.
Disclosure: I stayed at the Old Swan & Minster Mill on a complimentary basis to facilitate this review and others, but all opinions are my own.