This independent Cotswold hotel is the perfect blend of classic style and modern comfort for a really memorable weekend away, discovers Jessica Jonzen
THE EXTERIOR OF THE RECTORY HOTEL IN CRUDWELL. IT UNDERWENT AN EXTENSIVE RENOVATION IN 2017
When it comes to getting away from it all, nowhere does it better than the Cotswolds. The wide-open skies, honeyed cottages and the cosy pubs with their ancient beams and glowing inglenook fireplaces feel so completely out of step with normality that you can feel as if you’re in a completely different world rather than a two-hour drive from London.
Pulling up outside The Rectory Hotel in the pretty village of Crudwell in Wiltshire, the sense of sepia-toned escapism continues. It might have been built in the 18th century to accommodate the local rector and his 14 children but the tone today is distinctly restful. Beautifully discreet, the only giveaway that this is a hotel rather than a grand private house is the subtle logo on the two stone pillars at the entrance to the driveway.
Inside, the crackling fire, generous velvet sofas and homemade cordial make for a charming welcome and really set the tone. Along the flagstone hallway a second sitting room with deep teal walls and generously stocked with board games and paperbacks is the perfect place to unwind. With 15 bedrooms in the main house and another three in the cottage in the grounds (perfect for families), there is a lovely buzz to the place but there’s also plenty of space to find a quiet corner to read a book or nurse a Negroni.
IMAGES: (TOP) THE RECEPTION SITTING ROOM AT THE RECTORY HOTEL (BOTTOM LEFT) A SECOND SITTING ROOM IS STOCKED WITH BOARDGAMES AND BOOKS (MIDDLE AND RIGHT) THE BAR AREA IS PERFECT FOR A PRE-DINNER DRINK
Bought by music industry executive Alex Payne in 2016, the hotel underwent a huge six-month renovation in 2017. It’s hard to believe that The Rectory is Alex’s first hotel, such is the finesse with which he’s managed to pull off the welcoming home from home feel. The stylish modern country interiors designed by Natasha Hidvégi, attentive but relaxed service and delicious food appeals to both out-of-towners and locals alike – no mean feat.
The bedrooms on the first and second floors are a delight. I had one of the ‘big’ rooms (from £230 per night), which was indeed enormous, with a four-poster super-king bed, views across the garden and a huge en-suite bathroom. The chintz wallpaper and painted green panelling are a lovely design touch – it’s not just another cookie cutter hotel bathroom.
While The Rectory Hotel is really aimed at adults, my two children were warmly welcomed and the interconnecting bedroom with its enormous bed was perfect for them. Other bedrooms feature freestanding bathtubs, Roberts radios, cosy blankets and wonderfully comfortable beds. The Bramley products in the bathrooms are a lovely touch, and we loved spotting the honesty bars with whiskey and brandy on the landings for impromptu nightcaps.
IMAGES: (TOP) THE ‘BIG’ ROOM SUITE WITH ITS FOUR-POSTER BED AND PANELLING (BOTTOM LEFT) THE EN-SUITE BATHROOM (BOTTOM RIGHT) SASH WINDOWS OVERLOOK THE TWO-ACRE GARDEN
Supper and breakfast are served in an elegant panelled room which leads on to a light-filled glasshouse. Its herringbone brick floor, bare plastered walls, Jamb lighting and generous pots of citrus trees make this a real delight for design-lovers and the views across the garden are magnificent.
The food, like the setting for the hotel, is unpretentious and elegant. As you’d expect, there is an emphasis on seasonal produce and there is plenty to choose from on the menu. I opted for the grilled octopus, pork belly, romesco sauce and Valencia almonds to start, followed by the roasted cod with potted shrimp butter, tender stem broccoli and creamed potato. The port roasted figs with pistachio filo and honey ice cream was a really original pudding, and my children declared their burgers to be the best they’d ever eaten.
IMAGES: (TOP) THE GLASSHOUSE, WHERE BREAKFAST AND SUPPER ARE SERVED (BOTTOM LEFT) THE OUTDOOR POOL (BOTTOM RIGHT) THE EXTERIOR OF THE RECTORY HOTEL
Breakfast is served in the glasshouse, and the central farmhouse table groans with goodies. Choose from homemade granola, fresh pastries, fruit and yoghurt, and there’s a brilliant DIY Bloody Mary station. If you’re feeling especially hungry (we weren’t but are greedy and can never pass up a good hotel breakfast) there’s everything from a Full English to pancakes.
The Rectory Hotel is that rare blend of classic but unstuffy, welcoming but discreet, and it all comes with an easy to swallow price tag. Rooms start at £150 per night – a relative bargain for this level of hotel – while main courses in the restaurant start at £16 and you can order a bottle of wine for £20. A rare gem
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