Friday, July 29, 2016

The Horse & Groom, Bourton-on-the-Hill: Review of a Non-Chain Hotel option in the Cotswolds

In late May Mrs. Points Ninja stayed for a few days in the Cotswolds, one of our favorite places on earth. While there, we made our second visit to the Horse & Groom in Bourton-on-the-Hill (The Good Pub Guide Pub of the Year for 2016), and this charming little inn remains one of my favorite places to stay:

The Horse and Groom, owned by Tom & Will Greenstock, is a "restaurant with rooms," situated at the top of the hill and looking down across the village towards the larger town of Moreton-in-Marsh. I'll get to the restaurant part later, but the rooms (all of which are ensuite) are tastefully decorated and comfortable.

The Large Double:

Photo courtesy of the Horse & Groom

The Deluxe Double:
Photo courtesy of the Horse & Groom

Two Double Rooms:
Photos courtesy of the Horse & Groom
No, the view from Room 4 is not photoshopped! It really is that fantastic.
And the "Garden Double:"
Photo courtesy of the Horse & Groom

     All of the rooms feature flat-screen televisions, lovely H&G branded toiletries, in-room tea kettles, and (best of all) a packet of "June's Scrummy Flapjacks." Lest you be confused, these aren't "flapjacks" in the American sense. Rather, they're a scrumptious, buttery, bar cookie that goes perfectly with coffee or a nice cuppa. And "June" herself isn't the product of some branding campaign, she's the wife of the H&G's affable barman, Des.

Truth in advertising.

     The cozy window-seat in Room 4 (in which we stayed on our previous visit) offers a perfect view down the village lane towards Moreton and across the valley. The rooms at the front (including Room 4) do get a bit of road noise, so if you're a light sleeper, you may want to consider one of the rear rooms, like the Garden Double, which we picked for our latest stay.

     As you can see from the picture above, the garden double opens up onto the back lawn, a pleasant, grassy expanse with picnic tables and a bit of a view. That made it simple to slip out for a drink in the afternoon or for a stroll around the village in the evenings.

After one such walk, the lights of the H&G were a welcome sight at the top of the hill:

The room features a very comfortable bed that would likely classify as a queen-size in the US.

The bath was nicely appointed, with a shower/tub combination:

Water pressure and temperature control are good, which isn't always a given with small inns. The H&Gs house-branded toiletries are also quite nice.

The H&G offers a reduced room rate if you dine with them, and you'd be a fool not to take them up on it. Did I mention that they're the Good Pub Guide's pub of the year? It's no surprise, what with real ale on the handpumps,

a cozy pub,

and friendly service. As for food, I'd note that they're also the Good Pub Guide's Gloucestershire Dining Pub of the Year. I'm afraid that their reputation is borne out by how irresistible I found the bunless Dexter burger, since I clearly tucked in before remembering to take a photo:

Bourton-on-the-Hill is a pretty village, with one main street and side streets choc-a-block full of cozy cottages:

It has won Gloucestershire village of the year at least twice. And apparently both times the prize money was used to repair an (admittedly pretty) spring-fed horse trough:

Aside from the Horse and Groom, the only other establishment of note in the village is Bourton House, which is now open for tours of the garden and features a small tea shop:
The Bourton House garden isn't so expansive or enchanting as the nearby Hidcote or Kiftsgate, but its a nice spot for garden lovers.