Wild Thyme and Honey review



A chic bolthole in the Cotswolds

There’s quite the buzz about Wild Thyme & Honey. It has been named by The Sunday Times as one of the top places to stay in the UK and has gained rather a following since it opened just over a year ago, transforming a pub, which dates back to the 16th century, into a boutique hotel.

We rocked up with our kids in tow (it promises to be both chic and child-friendly: a hard combination to pull off) and a late lunchtime crowd was spilling out of the restaurant. At first glance, the hotel doesn’t have the chocolate box appeal of its Cotswold counterparts and it is on a busy road. Your first impression is of the car park. But then you start to see that all is not what it seems. There’s the line-up of turquoise vintage bikes all ready for guests to potter around on, the obligatory rack of Hunter wellies, and head inside the cosy bar and you’ll find blond wood beams, tasteful decor and a welcoming fire. It manages to offer olde world charm yet it has been brought bang up to date.

We settled in with a cocktail before heading to our rooms. Very handily, there are interconnecting suites for families. Ours were located off the courtyard – and what a stunning area that is. There are firepits, festoon lights and cosy sheepskin rugs draped over the seats. We opened the doors to our rooms – wow – the decor is stylish but with quirky fun touches. You’ll find rolltop baths in the bedrooms (complete with a bookrest), vast beds and a tray of sloe gin. Our windows overlooked the pretty stream outside and you can’t hear any traffic noise.

The views tempted us to explore. We picked up some Hunter wellies from reception and, armed with the hotel’s map, we went for a walk around the locale. Ampney Crucis is an interesting village with a pretty church and some gorgeous old buildings. We found ourselves on the housing estate. Amused locals looked on as we slouched past in our wellies (Hunter and hotel name branded across the top). One local stopped for a chat. They said they’d seen quite a few guests from the hotel in recent weeks. They directed us across the field to get back – via the alpacas, who bobbed their heads in curiosity as we wandered past. The sun was setting and it was all rather lovely.

We returned to the hotel looking forward to a sloe gin and a soak in the vast rolltop before dinner. The Crown at Ampney Brook sits within the hotel and serves as both a local pub and a destination restaurant. The upstairs dining space features a beamed ceiling and contemporary decor. We were seated in the The Eaves: perfect for a small group, you can glimpse out into the restaurant while also retaining a sense of privacy. The Crown also offers riverside domes for dining that looked lovely, too.

The menu here is focussed on a robata grill for steaks and burgers as well as seasonal dishes – on our visit, this included a slow-cooked shoulder of beef with Guinness and Marmite Jus. It is all about classic pub dishes revisited and given a modern twist with local sourcing a big part of the ethos. When we came to choose, some of the options were no longer available – the restaurant had had a very busy weekend. What we chose though, we loved, particularly a venison Scotch egg with black pudding brown sauce, a rib-eye steak cooked perfectly rare as requested and a baked Alaska with lemon curd. We whiled away the evening playing cards – and loved the atmosphere here, it is fun and relaxed. Breakfast the next day was also excellent.

This is a top spot for an easy weekend away from London. There are plenty of outdoor pursuits to try nearby such as clay pigeon shooting and if the weather is fine, you can head to the Cotswold Water Park down the road for kayaking and swimming.

And what is particularly impressive is the price: a stay here feels great value for what you get with current rates from £150 per double, B&B. Stylish, chic yet super-chilled.