What’s the score?
Tell anyone in Cirencester that you’re staying in the Kings Head and they’ll likely have two things to say. First, that you’re lucky, and second that it was closed for eight whole years for renovations before reopening in late 2014 – both of which are true.
There’s been a hotel on the Kings Head’s marketplace site for a few hundred years at least, and part of that eight-year hiatus involved unearthing some of that history.
What to expect
The archaeological dig turned up, among other things, a Roman mosaic that’s now on show in reception, and the design ethic throughout the rest of the hotel marries its history with carefully chosen modern art and comfy-luxe furnishings.
A wall in our suite was stripped to expose bare stone and brick and original beams, which contrasted neatly with the punches of colour sprinkled throughout the room’s tasteful décor. Even if you don’t happen to live in a 14th-century coaching inn, you’ll feel right at home.
Where to eat in Cirencester
The ground-floor restaurant continues the theme, using tried-and-tested local ingredients (check out the excellent steak from nearby rare-breed specialists Butts Farm) in dishes that feel modern without being flashy.
Hit the bar for a strong gin list and wines from the hotel’s extensive cellar (which doubles as a private dining room, if you’re into that kind of thing). Elsewhere, you’ll find plenty of decent places to grab some grub in the town – try Ciren institution Made by Bob, all of two minutes’ walk from the Kings Head, for bites from the deli and Michelin Bib Gourmand cooking next door. They’re both run by a chef-patron called, you guessed it… Dave. (Kidding, it’s Bob.)
Things to do in Cirencester
Though it’s actually pretty dinky, Cirencester’s got an awful lot going for it – not least its looks and its history. The place is positively creaking with heritage, from the creamy Costwold stone of its historic buildings (of which the Kings Head is certainly one) to the Corinium Museum, which charts the town’s rich Roman history in a way that’s both fascinating and slightly school-trippy, if you get what I mean.
Let’s put it this way – you’re not going home without a souvenir pencil. Just a short walk from the Corinium you’ll find the grounds of Cirencester Park – a huge country house that you’ll struggle to spot through the trees but is well worth a wander around. As is the National Arboretum at Westonbirt, where you’ll find 15,000 trees (of around 2,500 different types) from all over the world, accessed by more than 17 miles of paths.
That’s a lot of trees, and a lot of paths – you’re definitely going to need a decent pub afterwards. Luckily, you’ll find absolutely loads of them in the pretty villages located between Westonbirt and Ciren – try the Wild Duck Inn in Ewen for a luxe spin on the traditional country boozer or the Royal Oak in Tetbury for a local beer.
Address: 24 Market Place, Cirencester GL7 2NR; Price: Rooms from £120 B&B; Getting there: 93 miles from London; train to Kemble, then taxi or bus; Info: kingshead-hotel.co.uk