The Old Swan & Minster Mill. With rustic, relaxed charm sitting effortlessly beside luxuries you often only find at grand estates, although we can assure you neither seems out of place, this Cotswold gem makes an ideal escape for all. Cosy up in one of the “snugs” punctuated by flagstone floors and wooden beams, meander amongst the wildflower gardens that line the River Windrush, or roast marshmallows and sip sloe gin in front of your own private fire on the riverside terrace of your room, all with your faithful friend by your side.
A laid-back luxury country house hotel/gastro-pub oozing charm and character, roaring fires in the cold, al fresco dining in the warmth, and the perfect river for swimming (for the dog, that is).
First visited by Erin & Blue in September 2011.
Why we love it. If I wasn’t such a regular at the Old Swan and Minster Mill, I’d always wonder whether the unbelievable friendliness I experienced from both guests and staff on my first visit was due to my being the only two-legged member of my party - did people just pity me, feeling a social obligation to make small talk - or something to do with the property itself? Having been now many times with Ray and Blue, Ray Blue and Portland, and the four of us plus guests visiting from overseas, and likewise having been to many other properties with just Blue (our first trip to the Old Swan also coincided with my first trip with just me and Blue), I can firmly state that it is the property. And this is definitely one of the reasons we love it so – the amazingly relaxed state we enter whilst there, a state that seems to be induced in the other guests and which thus doubles the pleasure.
Whilst a large piece of this must definitely be ascribed to the general friendliness of the staff and their efforts to make all guests as relaxed as possible, it is doubly due to the brilliance of the hotel itself, which rolls most of my favoured aspects of a hotel into one: a cosy, rustic bar punctuated by flagstone floors, wood beams and roaring fires, all of which can be enjoyed in the company of your dog; public spaces you and your dog will actually want to spend time in thanks to lovely leather sofas, a proper magazine selection, and, yet again, rustic charm with roaring fires; not only a spa, but a spa with a proper masseuse who can hold her own with the best of them out there; beautiful grounds – 65 acres of gardens, meadows and woodlands, and over a mile of the River Windrush to be exact – which offer plenty of outdoor spots for al fresco dining, grassy knolls and benches ideal for enjoying the morning paper on a lazy sun soaked day, and meandering paths ideal for that simple first morning stroll or pre-dinner walk with your dog; and lovely walks straight from the lovely grounds, wonderfully easy to discover thanks to one of the best walking guides I’ve ever encountered detailing a number of walks ranging in length from 2 to 13 miles all leading from the hotel door and thoughtfully noting the perfect spots for picnics and (dog-friendly) pub visits along the way - the hotel will even pack you a picnic lunch to take along. This is just the short-list!
I could go on and on, but I’ll stop with one last point. Quite simply, we love the Old Swan and Minster Mill because it is so easy. Easy with the dogs and easy as a human, but easy without compromise. We can bring our dogs down to eat with us in the bar dressed in jeans or fancy up a bit and leave them to slumber on the dog-beds provided by the hotel whilst we catch a bit of alone time in the hotel’s dining room. No matter how we choose to dine, we can indulge in lovely, seasonal food sourced from local producers.
Having been many times, there has yet to be a time when I am the only guest with dogs. One night here and you’ll understand why.
Not to miss. The Special rooms located in the Minster Mill. Boasting private stone terraces right on the river complete with deck chairs, firepit, a good supply of wood, matches and. . .hold on. . .marshmallows and skewers, could it get any better than this? We think not. Of course, the dog shampoo and plentiful supply of towels is also greatly appreciated as any dog loving to swim must take advantage of the numerous opportunities offered.
Rooms welcoming to dogs start from. £165/night B&B + see our exclusive Chien Bleu packages.
Chien Bleu exclusive. The £20/night fee for dogs is kindly waived for all doggie guests of Chien Bleu.
Treats for the four-legged friend. Dog bowl, dog treats, poop bags, dog towels and shampoo on request, dog meals, dogs allowed to join you in all public spaces other than the restaurant (your pup can join you for meals in the bar), water on the property for swimming (for the dog, that is).
Treats for the two-legged. Spa, roaring fires, walks straight from the property with a fabulous walking guide, games.
Driving times. Birmingham – 1 ¾ hours, Bristol – 1 ½ hours, Exeter - 2 ½ hours, Edinburgh – 7 hours, Glasgow – 6 hours, London, West (M25/M4 Intersection) - 1 ½ hours, London, East (M25, Dartford Crossing) - 2 hours, Manchester - 3 hours