Looking for places to stay in the Cotswolds? Read our hotel review, and check out more places to stay in the Cotswolds here…
Minster Mill in a nutshell
A 38-room bolthole in the Cotswolds village of Minster Lovell, once a wedding and events venue but recently transformed into a sybaritic hotel following a £4.5million makeover. It’s part of the Andrew Brownsword stable of hotels, which includes Gidleigh Park and The Bath Priory.
Set amidst 65 acres of leafy grounds on the banks of the River Windrush (which powers most of the estate via an on-site hydropower turbine), Minster Mill offers a genteel but slick sprawl of honey coloured Cotswold stone buildings to hole up in. Its sister property, the Old Swan country pub with rooms, is just around the corner if you fancy a smidge less formality and a hint more tradition.
Most of the bedrooms are located in the renovated 20th-century mill itself, although there is a modern, dog-friendly annexe and several bedrooms by the river. Sleek, modern interiors set the hotel apart from the Old Swan but there are still many eye-catching original features dotted throughout, such as vaulted ceilings and oak beams.
Which room should I book at Minster Mill?
Light-filled rooms are generously sized and decorated in tasteful neutrals. Scandi-esque touches include pastel-hued wool blankets on the beds and Danish-style loungers. Find L’Occitane toiletries in the plushly modern bathrooms, Cotswolds-made lager, chocolate and crisps in the mini bar, and a room service menu that ranges from Oxford rarebit with brown sauce to rhubarb trifle.
If you need extra space, pick the junior suite: it comes with a lounge area, sofa bed, spacious bathrooms, pretty white-painted gabled ceilings and verdant garden views. Or feature rooms are situated by the river away from the main accommodation, and have private terrace areas with log burners or fire pits – plus marshmallows for toasting.
The food and drink
MasterChef: The Professionals 2017 semi-finalist Tom Moody is behind the pass at the hotel’s restaurant, which serves polished seasonal plates using produce from the hotel’s vegetable garden. A must-order is the butter-soft veal sweetbreads dressed in beef fat (all the meat and fish is British), with velvety caramelised cauliflower purée and crunchy walnuts. Aged loin of Cotswold lamb, blushing pink, spiked with salty hits of anchovy and feta, is another winner.
Service is streamlined and knowledgeable, particularly when it comes to wine – our waiter recommended a silky and light beaujolais. One word of caution: although the quality is high, the pricing is too, particularly for drinks and dinner. It’s a special-occasion kind of place but if you’re on a budget, go for the good-value set lunch menu. Pre- and post-dinner tipples, from crisp fino sherry to champagne and classic cocktails, can be found at the hotel’s chic gold-accented Mill Bar. There are also champagne and Cotswold cream teas to try.
Wake up to hearty breakfasts including fried duck egg with black pudding and mushroom ketchup, double gloucester omelette, and banana and crispy parma ham on cinnamon toast with maple syrup.
What else can foodies do?
Minster Mill’s pretty grounds are genuinely idyllic, full of gardens, wildflower meadows and woodland. Try fishing (there are bespoke packages available), hire a Pashley bicycle, or play tennis, boules, croquet and badminton. A small but serene Garden Spa comes with a heated plunge pool, sauna, steam and mud therapy rooms, plus treatment suites. Guests can pay £25 to use the spa for two hours, or get access for free if they’ve booked a treatment. There’s enough at Minster Mill to keep you occupied for a weekend, but should you venture out, Oxford is 15 miles away and Blenheim Palace just 11 miles.
Is it family friendly?
There aren’t any facilities specifically geared towards families, but the extensive grounds offer plenty of opportunities for exploration. And the Hilltop annexe, set slightly away from the main hotel, consists of six rooms with their own outdoor spaces. Given the fine-dining food and zen-like spa, though, Minster Mill is probably best enjoyed by adults.
There’s no mention of catering for vegans on the hotel’s website, but when contacted ahead of our visit, the restaurant designed a separate three-course plant-based menu. Think barbecued celeriac with walnut ketchup, British asparagus with yeast and salt-baked potato, and poached apricots with coconut sorbet, as well as vegan hors d’oeuvres.
Words by Hannah Guinness