What's the score
Found in the village of Brill, about a 15-minute drive south of Bicester, it'd be easy to pass this gem by on your way to Oxford or the Cotswolds. Don't. The Pointer won Michelin Pub of the Year 2018, and its food is largely sourced from the farm and kitchen garden of owners David and Fiona Howden two miles away in Ludgershall.
What to expect
Once you've been guided through the cosy village pub frontage, ducking below beams and peering through the lively kitchen pass, you'll find yourself in a cosy converted barn out back, most likely chomping your way through a carefully balanced menu that pushes pub grub to its absolute limit without making anything seem inaccessible. Since they took over the pub, the Howdens have added a butcher's next door, a Saturday farmers' market on the forecourt and four gorgeously decked-out country-luxe rooms in a two-up two-down over the road.
What to eat
Absolutely everything you think you might be able to fit inside your stomach, from the umami-laden beef dripping butter and local bread at the start of the meal, to the rich foamy toffee sauce on the medjool date pudding at the end of it. It's not hard to see why this place has won awards for its elevated pub food. We plumped for pork terrine from the farm to start with, then followed it with pheasant and chestnuts, bread sauce and savoy cabbage. Cooked breakfast – in all its farm-sourced glory – is included in your room rate. As are mix-your-own bloody marys, warm sourdough and Berocca, which is always a handy after a night making your way 'round the wine list.
What to do while you're there
Brill sprawls on a hilltop in a particularly pretty part of the Bucks countryside. The best spot to catch some views is by the windmill, which is about a five-minute walk from the pub. From there, there are plenty of trails to explore, too. Then, if you love a bargain, there's the shopping at Bicester Village, which happens to also be the home of the nearest train station. Soz, paycheck.
Address: 27 Church Street, Brill, Bucks, HP18 9RT; Cost: Rooms from £120 per night; Nearest town: Bicester, Oxfordshire; Getting there: It’s roughly an hour and a half from London by car, or a train from London Marylebone to Bicester Village, and a short taxi; To book: Call 01844 238 339 or visit thepointerbrill.co.uk