What is The Rectory Hotel’s USP?
An 18th century former rectory in the heart of picturesque Crudwell, in the Cotswolds (here’s where to eat and drink nearby), recently refurbished The Rectory Hotel is all about intimate dinners, fireside cocktails and country walks followed by hearty food.
And the general vibe?
Originally the rectory to the village church, this ancient stone building oozes relaxed country manor. Homemade cordial welcomes rosy-cheeked walkers into the drawing room, where you can warm up by the log fire and sink into pretty peacock feather-hued cushions.
Take off your wellies to pad across the flagstone hallway, past an ancient grandfather clock into the cosy sitting room – huge squishy sofas await by a flaming log fire, high-backed armchairs create intimate seating areas for two, and there’s a little alcove in the corner where board games are tucked under shelves groaning with hundreds of Penguin books. Play cards on the poker table, nestle into one of the bay windows with a book, or simply sit and enjoy the views of the garden. Bold, colourful artwork adds a fresh, contemporary touch to the house, blowing away any potential stuffiness.
Which room should I book at The Rectory Hotel?
The 18 rooms are all unique, with the first floor hosting more spacious rooms, and the second floor benefitting from exposed oak beams. The team at The Rectory Hotel has freshened up the interiors to preserve original features (little fireplaces, sash windows, panelled walls) and antiques, but add a checklist of little hotel luxuries (Robert’s Radios, tea and coffee from local roasters UE and Jeeves and Jericho). Beds are like huge armchairs, with velvet curved headboards in mustard yellow and forest green.
Room Six is particularly elegant and feminine, with pale green painted panelled walls and a delicate white four poster bed.
Spacious bathrooms with floral wallpaper boast rainfall showers and/or free-standing baths. Room Seven’s bath is in the bedroom, so you can chat to your companion or watch a film from the hotel’s library while you’re soaking in Bramley bubbles. This large room also looks out onto the hotel’s pretty gardens and pond.
What’s good to drink?
A separate bar area is well-stocked with Dorset Black Cow vodka, a dedicated whisky shelf and Butcombe beer on tap – try the Goram Avon pale ale. The staff are really clued up on wine, and there are some really unusual bottles to taste (read on for more on that). Make the most of the cosy sitting room and sip on negronis by the fireside.
And to eat?
Dining at The Rectory Hotel feels like joining a country manor house dinner party. Locals dressed up on date night, hotel residents in casual gear and local regulars all chortle over tables set with atmospheric candlesticks.
The kitchen is run by Anthony Eely (formerly of Square and Lucky Onion) and head chef Darren Stephens and focuses on refreshed classics. Unfussy comfort food includes fish pie, and pretty salads using fresh produce grown in the allotments behind The Potting Shed pub over the road (sister business to the hotel). We started with ham hock, crunchy green beans and poached egg, and al dente purple sprouting broccoli on tomato purée bed with little cubes of salty goat’s curd and dukkah. Butter-roasted Wiltshire mallard for main came with a crisp-skinned roast leg, roast Jerusalem artichokes and red cabbage finished with a delicate jus and pickled blackberries for tangy sweetness.
The grill section includes flat-iron chicken with lemon, aioli and fries, Chateaubriand for two with roast beetroot, crispy shallots and wild rocket, and grilled catch of the day (turbot from Dorset on our visit, served with buttery Lime Regis new potatoes, watercress and a ramekin of Hollandaise).
Cleanse your palate with a sgroppino; a moat of prosecco surrounding a refreshing lemon sorbet island in a glass rimmed with lemon-infused sugar. This prepared us for an extremely indulgent chocolate ganache marquise pudding, topped with crunchy candied hazelnuts and served with salted caramel ice cream and a banana slice coated in brittle caramelised sugar. We also had our eye on mini Florentine donuts.
What’s the breakfast like?
The breakfast spread, taken in The Glasshouse overlooking the gardens, is impressive. Graze on homemade granola, fresh fruits, mini pastries and ham and cheese before taking your pick from the made-to-order hot menu (French toast, avocado on sourdough, eggs any style).
Buttermilk waffles are thin, light and crisp, topped with sweet seasonal fruits, mascarpone and nut granola crunch, or savoury avocado, smoked salmon and poached eggs with creamy Hollandaise sauce.
There’s a DIY bloody mary station complete with vodka, a punhcy homemade spice mix and celery salt, as well as Champagne and fresh juices.
Is The Rectory Hotel family friendly?
There’s no children’s menu, but the chefs can put together smaller portions or more simple pasta dishes for kids, and the large dining room is very welcoming to families. The gardens are ideal for a mega game of hide and seek, or there’s the Cotswolds Wildlife Park half an hour’s drive away. There are some interconnecting rooms for older children, and extra beds and travel cots can be set up.
What can I do in the local area?
The Potting Shed pub, snuggled in to the heart of the village just across the road, is the epitome of a country local. Think cosy fireside nooks, a well-stocked bar with plenty of regional brews on tap, and an airy seating area in the eaves.
There’s an outdoor patio and garden for eating outside in summer, and you can peek at the neighbouring allotments or challenge your friends to a game of boules on the pitch out back. The pie of the day (ham with a poached egg on top, or chicken, sweetcorn and black pudding) is a must, served, as it should be, with creamy mash and rich gravy.
There are also hearty (and we mean it, the portions are huge!) fish dishes such as sea bream with springy squid rings and fresh vegetables, or proper beer-battered fish and chips. Try a Cotswolds dry gin (here are our favourite English gins), or taste local ales such as Elmers pale bitter from Flying Monk Brewery in neighbouring Malmesbury.
The concierge says…
If you’re staying with us on a Friday night, visit Stroud Farmers’ Market on a Saturday morning after breakfast (9am-2pm). Just a 30 minute drive away, this friendly, award-winning market is a great way to taste your way around some of the best Cotswolds produce (Bath soft cheese, proper cider, forest mushrooms).
If you’re into your wine, or want insightful recommendations, make sure you ask for Joe. As a self-proclaimed wine geek he can chat all night about unusual wine regions, grape varieties and vineyards. His favourite wine on the menu is the refreshing and minerally Sancerre from Domaine Nicolas Girard.