Looking for places to stay in Kingham? Want a pub with rooms in the Cotswolds? Read our review of The Wild Rabbit in Kingham.
What is The Wild Rabbit’s USP?
In the heart of the Cotswolds (check out more places to stay in the Cotswolds here), on the Daylesford estate, The Wild Rabbit is a modern British inn serving seasonal, hyper-local food and offering 12 bedrooms (all, like the inn itself, named after creatures found in the English countryside). There are also two cosy cottages just a short walk away and, as of late 2018, three more opposite the inn.
And the general vibe?
While it attracts an out-of-town crowd, at its heart The Wild Rabbit is a country pub, albeit one with Hugo Guinness block prints on the walls and tea lights flickering on farmhouse-style tables. It acts as a kind of sociable living room for the locals (the notice board was calling out for village bakers on our visit), with squidgy leather sofas taken up by blush-faced walkers escaping the cold, shaggy dogs lounging in front of the crackling fire and families wrapping their hands around mugs of hot chocolate and hot buttered rum.
The restaurant has a fresher vibe with an open-pass kitchen, big windows and lots of bunny-themed references, from drawings on the plates to topiary hares at the entrance.
Which room should I book at The Wild Rabbit?
Choose between 12 calm, airy bedrooms above the pub, or, for larger groups, take your pick of the cottages, scattered in the surrounding village of Kingham. All showcase Daylesford’s signature pared-backed country style (think exposed beams, sash windows, duck-egg blue stable doors and lots of muted shades of cream, taupe and stone) but peppered with luxuries; if you’re taken with the decor you can buy everything from the egg cups, chopping boards, throws and toiletries at the Daylesford shop in Kingham (and online, here).
We liked The Bunny cottage, which comes with its own secluded garden for the warmer months and is heated by an Aga in the winter. Perch at its rustic kitchen table and admire shelves stocked with Daylesford’s sleek crockery. Or, sink into plush, dusty grey armchairs, wrap yourself in stylish blankets and throw another log onto the fire before indulging in a game of Trivial Pursuit from the collection of board games.
What’s good to drink?
At dinner, make the most of an organic wine menu (it features bottles from The Wild Rabbit cellar plus sister estate Château Léoube). The Léoube rose is crisp, clean and slightly fruity, making it easy drinking all year round.
Hunker down in the pub and sip on dry ciders, made using leftover apples from the estate, or warm up with a quince liqueur on the rocks – sweet, with notes of honey and figs.
And to eat?
Head chef Nathan Eades (one of the most passionate and grounded chefs we’ve met) has designed a carefully curated menu that sings the praises of the Daylesford Farm produce. French classics that celebrate the seasons are the order of the day, with an unofficial motto of “butter makes everything taste better”.
Each morning the chefs make the muddy walk up to the farm, where Jez – head of the market garden and a man who knows everything there is to know about beetroot and brussels sprouts – runs through the produce available to use that day, meaning the menu changes every 24 hours.
On our visit, we started with peppery chunks of black radish, fennel and white broccoli served with an earthy heritage beetroot hummus. The freshness sings, with the veg needing just a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of salt to shine through.
A flaky fillet of Cornish plaice came with a quenelle of creamy broccoli purée, smoky, al dente stems and a rich clementine béarnaise sauce. Chunks of zesty clementine added a freshness that sliced through the butter. Venison (from the Wootton Estate in Staffordshire) was perfectly pink with pungent truffle puy lentils and juicy pomegranate seeds for a hearty main.
It’s worth saving room for dessert, with comforting puddings king. A towering pumpkin pie soufflé came with little nuggets of crunchy pumpkin crumble that melted on the tongue, while crème fraiche ice cream created a puddle of sweetness that was worth drinking from the spoon.
If you’re after something more informal, head to the bar and order scotch eggs served with pickled walnuts, fish goujons with crispy capers or a ribeye steak (the meat comes from cows bred in South Devon) with triple-cooked chips.
What’s the breakfast like?
A banquet table is lavishly spread with cheeses from Daylesford dairy, warm croissants, slithers of charcuterie (click here to learn how to make your own charcuterie) and bowls filled with seasonal compotes, muesli and creamy yogurt. If you’ve got a day of walking ahead of you, fill up on silky smoked salmon served with chive scrambled eggs, or creamy porridge sprinkled with brown sugar.
Is The Wild Rabbit family-friendly?
The Hedgehog bedroom above the pub comes with an extra single bed topped with teddies (for larger families, it’s best to book one of the cottages) plus a cosy little nook piled with bedtime storybooks. A babysitting service is also available on request if you fancy a child-free supper. A menu is also available for children, think fish goujons, pasta with homemade tomato sauce as well as bangers and mash.
What can I do in the local area?
From long strolls through charming villages stopping off for pints at country pubs, to cookery classes at Daylesford itself, the Cotswolds is a foodie paradise. Sign up for Artisan Bread Making, Nose-to-Tail Butchery or Sustainable Seafood courses at Daylesford’s Cooking School, or, hop in the car and drive 30 minutes’ south for a hearty lunch at Mr Hanbury’s Masons Arms (read our full review here).
The concierge says…
On a Sunday, borrow a pair of wellies (or hire bicycles) and go for a ramble, returning to the pub where bowls of roasties will be waiting on the counter, ready to be dug into.
The Chicken Shed (the restaurant’s private dining room) is the perfect space for parties. Gather in the picturesquely rustic space to enjoy a formal tasting menu, or keep it more casual with wood-fired pizzas. Bespoke wine tastings are also available in the inn’s wine cellar, while tailored workshops are also bookable, whether you want to learn to forage or make liqueurs with the chefs.
Cottages start from £350 for a minimum two night stay, thewildrabbit.co.uk
Words | Ellie Edwards
Photographs | Martin Morrell