We value your privacy
With its unmatched service and style, this revamped Costwolds hotel-inn ticks all the boxes for cosiness and class
How does a boutique gastro pub and hotel stand out in The Cotswolds? As one of the most beautiful areas in the UK, it is full of gorgeous little places to stay, eat and relax. Wild Thyme and Honey (WT&H) has taken this winning formula, layered it with thoughtful details and added something no amount of money can buy: genuine warmth, welcome and hospitality.
Outside, WT&H is a pretty but unpretentious 16th-century building in Ampney Crucis, just outside Cirencester. Inside, we’re enveloped in that distinctive Cotswolds vibe – muted colours, organic fabrics, exposed bricks, old wood and a roll-top bath in the bedroom. But if this is an English country dream come to life, it’s underpinned by a metropolitan ruthlessness when it comes to getting every last detail right.
There is a decanter of sloe gin in your room to warm you on arrival, alongside a high-end Nespresso machine. If there’s something else you fancy, there is an honesty pantry in the corridor, stocked with all the little things that can make such a big difference at hotels. Most of the rooms are reached via an outdoor walkway, and at every door there are candles in hurricane lamps to light the way by night, with practical boot-scrapers for post-walk clean ups.
The outside space is as good as the inside, with a wonderful central courtyard where you can sit and sip cocktails under a sky full of stars. The downstairs bars are built for conviviality, with baskets of aromatic lavender, deep sofas, open fires, and a well-stocked bar with an extensive wine list and cocktail menu. If you outlast the bartender, you can help yourself from the enomatic wine dispensing bar.
Once we’d settled into our room, we came downstairs for a light lunch of spiced celeriac soup, fresh-baked sourdough and a sublime lobster arancini with an avocado, lime and basil cream. The food at WT&H is proudly local with a farm-to-fork ethos, and comes in generous portions of crowd-pleasing classics and inventive twists. For dinner, I ate a brilliant retro prawn cocktail (with big, juicy prawns and a Bloody Mary sauce), while my husband David had a feather-light cheese soufflé with truffle sauce and crispy leeks. I opted for the celeriac steak next, which came served as a traditional roast with all the trimmings and a – hard to do well – richly flavoured vegetarian gravy, while David chose a creamy smoked pumpkin risotto.
Our food was so good and the portions so generous we had hardly any room left, but couldn’t resist a vanilla panna cotta topped with fresh berries in a syrupy sloe gin sauce and a sorrel garnish. Suddenly tired after a day of country air, we went back to our room leaving half a bottle of wine unfinished. Five minutes later, it arrived at our door ‘in case you’d like to enjoy it later’. This was just one example of the many small ways in which WT&H makes its guests feel welcome and cared for.
It’s a happy place, and it shows. Even in the middle of a full-on packed Sunday lunch service, we noticed the waiters smiling to each other as they hurried past, exchanging banter with the chefs and pausing to help children with dropped toys. Really good service is hard to do well, and at this little hotel in this sleepy little village, I had the best service I’ve had in years.
Rooms at Wild Thyme and Honey start at £170 per night, including breakfast. Dog-friendly rooms are available on the ground floor, and families can ask for interconnecting rooms. There is also a self- contained apartment. To book, visit wildthymeandhoney.co.uk