The Basics

Slap bang in the middle of cute Cotswold village Minster Lovell and set along the bubbling river Windrush, is the 15th-century Old Swan & Minster Mill. The award-winning boutique hotel is geared-up for maximum R&R, with 65 acres of gardens and meadows – perfect for woodland walks – and a snug indoor set-up that’s all about evenings spent in front of the log fire, glass of wine in hand.

The Rooms

The close-to-600-year-old inn and adjoining mill were given a fresh makeover by new owners in 2010, with the result being 16 historic timber-framed bedrooms at the Old Swan and 44 more modern and affordable rooms in the Minster Mill across the road. All come with quirky, homely touches, including hot-water bottles (when you need them) and carafes of sloe gin by the bedside.

Wander past the grand paintings and gleaming figures in armour to the unpretentious but excellent spa located in the Minster Mill, or potter around the picture-book gardens with your pooch – the hotel is dog-friendly

All rooms come with quirky touches, including hot-water bottles and bedside carafes of sloe gin

The Food

If you’re not prepared to eat your weight in food, you’re not taking the Cotswolds seriously. Luckily, the Old Swan serves classic, delicious food cooked with fresh, local ingredients. Our hearty rack of lamb came with carrots glazed with local honey, while the crayfish in our fish pie were caught in the nearby river. The enormous sticky toffee pudding is a must, if your jeans can stretch to it.


A long (and hilly) bike ride is a great way to see some of the villages that dot the area. Rent a hipster Pashley bike from the hotel before pedaling over to Bibury, once described by poet William Morris as “the most beautiful village in England”. When you’re done snapping its sweep of thatched riverside cottages and narrow streets, carry on to charming Burford and park up for a cream tea at Huffkins. Yep, more food – this is a mini break after all.

Address: Minster Lovell, OX29 0RN; Price: from £155 per room per night, B&B; Getting there: Trains to nearby Charlbury take around 1HR, or it's 70 miles by car; Info: 01993774 441;