I’ve stayed at a lot of hotels over the years, but something about the Old Swan and Minster Mill has stuck with me. It made me feel all warm inside, like I had arrived back at home, and for that, I will keep this review brief.. as I believe that says it all. Romantically set in 65 acres of woodland and orchards, The Old Swan and Minster Mill is over 600 years old and located only 14 miles from Oxford.
The Old Swan and Minster Mill is nestled in idyllic grounds in the picturesque village of Minster Lovell, and it is the most quintessentially British hotel I have stayed in. The hotel even has a river (River Windrush) running next to the hotel, and an adjoining mill, which seamlessly blend the rural charm of these historic buildings with modern design, luxurious comfort and delicious menus crafted from the best seasonal produce.
The hotel is home to stunning gardens, wild flower meadows and woodland, that comes alive during the summer, and gives you a chance to explore the British countryside. You can also partake in some fishing, walking, croquet and tennis, whilst during the winter there is nothing better than sitting in the snug, next to the roaring fire.
Minster Mill is just 15 miles from the dreaming spires of Oxford and 11 miles from the inspiring Blenheim Palace. The charming Cotswold stone buildings and barns are flanked by 65 acres of idyllic grounds set in the picture-perfect Oxfordshire village of Minster Lovell.
Old Swan and Minster Mill
They’ve just finished the final stages of a major refurbishment programme, taking in all the bedrooms and public spaces and creating an impressive new hotel restaurant and bar. And their magical gardens, lush wild flower meadows and woodland come alive during the summer months, with fishing, walking, croquet and tennis on the menu. When temperatures drop, the hearty food, cosy interiors and roaring log fires provide a welcome, hospitable haven.
Old Swan and Minster Mill offers boutique, timber-framed respite from urban life. Me and Theo stayed here during the weekend of Wilderness Festival (which you can read about here), which was only five miles away, and a short drive. We opted for a hotel stay instead of camping as we were fed up with feeling rubbish at festivals, and never enjoying them, either due to loss of sleep or being uncomfortable. We loved having the luxury of a hotel, whilst also being able to chuck on the wellies and head across to Wilderness. Old Swan and Minster Mill was the perfect place to enjoy our weekend!
Why not have lunch on the terrace, or while away the afternoon with a soothing ESPA spa treatment. The hotel has 60 rooms split between the Old Swan and Minster Mill, a 600 year-old coach house that includes the restaurant and bar, and the modern Minster Mill, where reception is, which looks onto the gardens and river.
Old Swan and Minster Mill
The Restaurant and Bar
The head chef Tom Moody fuses contemporary and traditional British cooking and adds an appealing local twist. A Masterchef semi-finalist in 2017, Tom carefully selects the best regional, seasonal ingredients, while supporting British farmers, fishermen and artisan producers.
The restaurant itself has handsome vaulted ceilings and original oak beams, a classic look that’s complemented by a modern, easy-going ambience. Drop in for an amazing Full English, a leisurely lunch or an intimate dinner. Whatever the occasion, they can help you celebrate in style and have a choice of private dining spaces available. In the summer, you can eat outside on the terrace or in the gardens. Dogs (and their owners) are welcome in the bar area of the Old Swan across the road.
The bar is set in a high gallery overlooking the restaurant, Mill Bar serves selected fine wines and Champagnes from the Brownsword cellar, along with perfectly shaken classic cocktails. Fun, relaxed and sociable, it’s a place to enjoy down-to-earth hospitality and good company.
heritage beetroots, crème fraiche
Ham hock terrine
sweet & sour pineapple, pickled mushrooms
Chilled tomato consommé
dressed heritage tomato, cucumber, English feta
Poached & glazed chicken
celeriac, verjus, mussels
cauliflower fondant, lemongrass sauce
Dulcey chocolate ganache
speculoos, raspberry sorbet
Old Swan and Minster Mill
Dressed in sleek, streamlined ‘Skandi’ style, the rooms and suites feature contemporary lighting and fittings, mid-century furniture, sumptuous bathrooms … and all you need for a relaxing, revitalising stay.
We were super impressed with the bedroom we stayed in, a lovely attic room in the Minster Mill end of the hotel. Minster Mill has 37 bedrooms offering a more contemporary, Scandinavian style; the choice includes several outstanding river rooms with their own private terrace with fire pit, family rooms and several dog-friendly rooms.
Whilst the adjoining Old Swan and Minster Mill comprises 15 charming guest rooms and suites epitomising the classic beauty of the rural Inn. If you like twisting staircases and period trimmings go for one of the 16 rooms in the Old Swan. And don’t leave your dogs at home, as they also count dogs as guests, and have speciality suited rooms for you and your pooch.
Our room was a beautiful Deluxe Meadow Suite, located on the first floor, with oak beams across the ceiling. It offered a spacious lounge area with sofa-bed and stunning views over the gardens and the river. Our room had a wonderful king size bed and featured a modern, en-suite bathroom with a walk-in shower and separate bath.
Interiors are contemporary cosy with white waffle dressing gowns, The White Company amenities, complimentary sloe gin and a hot water bottle in your bed if it’s cold. They had everything we needed, and more.
Old Swan and Minster Mill Spa
The Garden Spa
Wash away your worries in this tranquil haven, set in the heart of the landscaped grounds. Highlights include a plunge pool, rock sauna, aroma steam room, ice fountain and tropical rain forest showers.
On our first morning at the hotel we popped on our swimsuits and headed down to the Old Swan and Minster Mill Garden Spa, which opened in December 2016. It is the shining star of the hotel, hidden from view, offering a tranquil haven in the heart of the beautiful grounds. They’ve got an indoor heated plunge pool, poolside rock sauna, aroma steam room, ice fountain and tropical rain forest showers. Me and Theo both indulged in a treatment too, opting for a couples massage in one of the three treatment rooms – which was lovely and relaxing!
The Indulgent Spa Getaway
Restore body and mind with our one night Sunday Spa escape.
Arrive and explore the 65 acres of beautiful grounds and enjoy a delicious three-course dinner before curling up in a comfortable bed for a relaxing night’s sleep, followed by a full English breakfast the next day.
Start the new week with a luxurious 30 minute treatment of your choice on Monday morning and enjoy time by the pool, in the poolside rock sauna, aroma steam room or ice fountain.
This Sunday Spa Break includes:
- One 30 minute treatment of your choice
- Full use of our luxurious spa facilities including robes, slippers and towels
- A three-course dinner
- One night of luxury accommodation
- Full English or continental breakfast in the morning
- 20% discount on any further treatments booked on the day
From £336 per room, per night*
Old Swan and Minster Mill, Minster Lovell, Witney OX29 0RN (01993 774441; oldswanandminstermill.com). In March double rooms cost from £175 with breakfast. Wifi and parking is free.
* I stayed complimentary at Old Swan and Minster Mill, but as always, opinions are honest!
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