The Swan Inn Pub with rooms in Swinbrook, Oxfordshire

Prices from:
£105 per night

David Hancock says:

  • Picture perfect, oozes Cotswold charm
  • Magical setting beside River Windrush
  • Cottagey – fires, flagstones, flowers
  • Modern British cooking, great menu
  • Cosy, country-style rooms, serene views
  • Bantams roam the garden

Sticky FingersGood for WalkingCandlelitClose to Water

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Overview

The Swan Inn Swinbrook, Oxfordshire, OX18 4DY

The personal touch

The Swan Inn Swinbrook seems as much a part of the landscape as the River Windrush that flows past, with its creeper-covered Cotswold stone walls as rooted in its environment as the green fields all around. The dinky village of Swinbrook is as English as they come, with its church and cricket pitch, and the inn is even owned by the Chatsworth Estate; the Duchess of Devonshire, custodian of said estate and last of the renowned Mitford sisters, sadly died in 2014. The Swan, though, remains in the safe hands of Archie and Nicola Orr-Ewing, who also run the King’s Head in Bledington. They’ve revitalised the place and bought it up to a standard to meet the demands of a 21st-century crowd who appreciate the charm of the original building, love the real fires and the delicious calm of the setting. The injection of boutique styling has been judged just right. Dining is a major draw, too, and the people they do come for wholehearted British and European dishes made with regional produce and cooked with flair. With local ales and a riverside garden with roaming Bantam ducks, the Swan Inn is a great escape.

Sticky fingers

Children can tuck into half portions of most courses or go for bespoke items such as pasta or scampi and chips, and they can stay overnight in some bedrooms for an additional £25 a night on the room price.

Muddy paws

Dogs are welcome in the inn but must be on leads – don’t forget there are ducks and bantams in the garden.

Alfresco

The outside space is positively idyllic, helped by the fact the garden runs down to the River Windrush (think pretty little stream rather than arterial waterway). Wandering ducks only add to the pastoral paradise. There’s a terrace with a pergola and lawn running down to the river’s edge.

What’s on?

On Wednesday evenings the kitchen gears up for ‘Burger Night’ by prepping a variety of patties from the likes of beef, pork and venison.

What’s the Damage?
10 doubles from £105; 1 suite from £180

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken (exc American Express)
  • Private dining facilities
  • Alfresco dining
  • Disabled access to restaurant and rooms
  • Parking

Gongs
Michelin; Waitrose Good Food Guide; AA 2 Rosettes

Sleep

The Swan Inn Swinbrook, Oxfordshire, OX18 4DY

Do not disturb

When it comes to stopping over for the night, there are eleven bedrooms spread across two buildings – the Riverside Cottage and the Stables. The Riverside Cottage is as pretty as a picture, built of Cotswold stone and refurbished to a high standard. Three of the rooms are on the ground floor with their own garden area and a charming thatched summer house. The Stable block doesn’t want for charm either, with six bedrooms all decorated with soothing neutrality and given splashes of colour from cushions and fabrics. Throughout, artworks are well chosen and the furniture is sturdy stuff. The pick of the bunch is Debo’s Room (named in honour of the Duchess), which is a spacious suite with a roll-top batch and separate sitting room (ideal for families with the addition of an extra bed). The classy finish carries on into the bathrooms with their mix of natural stone tiling, including some mosaics, travertine flooring and fluffy white towels. There a fabulous views from most rooms – grazing cows, the meandering river – and there’s a genuine sense of getting away from it all.

Creature comforts

Bespoke Bantam Bath products; Egyptian cotton sheets.

Gadgets

Free Wi-Fi; flatscreen TV; Nespresso coffee machines in most rooms.

Pampering

Anyone looking to be spoiled rotten need just ask and a visit to the Witney Lakes Spa and Country Club down the road can be arranged.

What’s for Breakfast?

Homemade porridge; croissants; fruit compote; smoked salmon with scrambled eggs; grilled kippers with herb butter; full ‘Swans’ breakfast: cured bacon, sausage, grilled tomato, mushrooms, fried bread, black pudding & free-range eggs.

What’s the Damage?
10 doubles from £105; 1 suite from £180

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken (exc American Express)
  • Private dining facilities
  • Alfresco dining
  • Disabled access to restaurant and rooms
  • Parking

Gongs
Michelin; Waitrose Good Food Guide; AA 2 Rosettes

Eat & Drink

The Swan Inn Swinbrook, Oxfordshire, OX18 4DY

Mastering the menu

Whether you eat in the bar by the fire, in the Mitford Room surrounded by pictures of the renowned family (and kept toasty by a log-burning stove), in the vaulted conservatory, outside on the terrace, or on the lawn by the river, it’s the same menu, and there’s a satisfying sense of place. It’s like it has always been here. The menu manages to maintain this sense of equilibrium by seeking out produce that comes from hereabouts and reflects the rural setting. The Swan may be positively bucolic, but it’s also rather refined, and thus chef Matt Laughton’s menu follows suit with its modern take on British/European preparations. The sharing plate of antipasti is a great way to start, or keep crispy pig’s head fritters with Bramley apple compote and pea shoots all to yourself. Grilled Cotswold ribeye steak with Stornaway black pudding, fried duck egg and skinny chips is typical of the kitchen’s output, with seafood shipped up from Devon and Cornwall (grilled fillet of gilthead bream, say, with green beans, slow-roasted tomatoes and a pesto made with rocket and walnut). There might be fish and chips, too, or a steak and ale pie, for the Swan has not forgotten its roots as a pub. When it comes to dessert, grapefruit and juniper jelly with blueberry syrup and honey ice cream is a sophisticated take on a childhood favourite.

On the menu

Salad of goats’ cheese, fresh blackberries, hazelnuts, beetroot & rosehip syrup
Potted smoked shrimps, parsley salad & toast
Pan-fried lamb’s liver, olive oil mash & red onion gravy
Whole grilled Cornish plaice, pea purée, crispy pancetta, caper & rosemary butter
Dark chocolate & ginger pot with cardamom ice cream

Sunday Roasts

Roast sirloin of beef, Yorkshire pudding & red wine gravy
Roast loin of pork, apple sauce & sage gravy
Roast leg of Cotswold lamb, mint sauce & new Potatoes

Foodie Extras

Given the lovely rural aspect of the Swan, eating outdoors is a warm-weather treat. There’s a terrace and pergola at the smarter end of the spectrum, or simply sit on a table down by the River Windrush and watch the ducks while you eat.

Time to Eat

Breakfast: 8am – 9.30am (8.30am – 10am Saturday & Sunday)
Lunch 12 noon – 2pm (2.30pm Saturday; 3pm Sunday)
Dinner 6pm – 9.30pm

Local, local, local

Meat – Aubrey Allen (www.aubreyallen.co.uk)
Real ales – Hook Norton Brewery (www.hooky.co.uk)
Lager – Cotswold Brewing Company, Cheltenham (www.cotswoldbrewing.com)
Smoked products – Upton Smokery, Burford (www.uptonsmokery.co.uk)
Vegetables – Alan Cox, Oddington
Apple juice – Bensons Totally Fruity, Sherborne (www.bensonstotallyfruity.co.uk)

Behind the bar

There’s a regional flavour at the Swan with real ales from the likes of Hook Norton and even a local lager from the Cotswold Brewing Company. If you’re in need of the hair of the dog, you might like to know they do a cracking Bloody Mary (clear-headed people will appreciate it as well of course). There’s a good range of whiskies, gins and Cognacs, too, with Archie’s homemade bullace gin well worth checking out (bullace is a type of plum). The wine list offers a decent selection by the glass at reasonable prices, with a global spread and an inclination towards France.

Bar snacks

Potted pork rillettes & brioche
Marinated olives with sun-blushed tomatoes

Time at the bar

10.30am – 11.30pm

What’s the Damage?
10 doubles from £105; 1 suite from £180

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken (exc American Express)
  • Private dining facilities
  • Alfresco dining
  • Disabled access to restaurant and rooms
  • Parking

Gongs
Michelin; Waitrose Good Food Guide; AA 2 Rosettes

Food Trail

Take it back home
Tour the brewery that brewed your favourite pint, visit the shop on the farm that reared your delicious Sunday roast beef, and seek out the roadside stalls selling the local crab and samphire on the inn’s menu, the Food Trail features the local artisan producers and suppliers where you can buy to enjoy at home.

Change of scenery
Looking for a pub for lunch following a country walk, a different venue for dinner, or a good café for coffee, light lunch or afternoon tea, then the best in the area are listed below. If you find a new and exciting eatery in the area that’s worthy of a mention on the Food Trail, then please to do let us know – gabrielle@innplaces.co.uk.

1 Inn Location - The Swan Inn

2

The Cotswold Cheese Company, Moreton in Marsh GL56 0AH

A purveyor of an incredible selection of the finest cheeses with a good selection from local producers. They also sell other artisan and local produce such as local breads, biscuits and crackers, chutneys and local potted meats.

3

Upton Smokery, Upton Downs Farm, Burford OX18 4LY

Located in the rolling Cotswold countryside outside of Burford, this family business smokes just about everything from game to fish. They also stock fresh game, paté, potted terrines, charcuterie and olives.

5

The Cotswold Brewing Company, College Farm, Bourton on the Water GL54 2HN

This award-winning independent brewery retains a hand-crafted approach to making beer and is also well-known for its lager and stout, as well as its cider, gin and vodka. You can pop into the brewery to buy bottles and polypins of beer and there are twice-daily brewhouse tours by prior arrangement.

7

The Rose and Crown, Shilton OX18 4AB

Cracking foodie pub run by chef-Patron Martin Coldicott. The 16th-century Cotswold-stone pub has low beams, stone floors and a menu that keeps things suitably simple.

8

Made By Bob, 26 Market Place, Cirencester GL7 2NY

In the heart of Cirencester located in the former Roman Corn Hall building, this exceptional restaurant and deli attracts discerning foodies from all over the Cotswolds. Owner/chef Bob Parkinson previously worked under the great Simon Hopkinson at Bibendum restaurant in London and is regarded as one of the best chefs in the region.

9

W.J. Castle Family Butchers, Burford OX8 4RG

Set in one of the town's historic timber-framed buildings, this well-stocked butchers specialises in locally sourced meats including Hereford beef and Gloucester Old Spot pork. A selection of roast meats, cheeses and olives is also available from the delicatessen section.

Out & About

1 Inn Location - The Swan Inn

Activities

2

Hardwick Parks, Witney OX29 7PZ

Head for Standlake, south-east of Witney, and choose from a wide variety of water sports suited to all ages and abilities. This is just the place for exhilarating, fun-filled action, which can be enjoyed by all the family.

3

Shooting, Enstone OX7 4NS

This comprehensive clay shooting school, situated amid the pastoral scenery of the Cotswolds, at Enstone, near Chipping Norton, offers great facilities and caters for beginners right through to experienced shots.

4

Rally Driving Days, Tracey Farm, Great Tew OX7 4JS

Family-run and welcoming rally, performance car and off-road driving centre situated near Chipping Norton. Here, you can try your hand at rally driving in authentic conditions and in the safe hands of trained professionals.

15

Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway, Toddington GL54 5DT

West of Stow, this is the perfect destination for anyone who still savours the unique thrill of steam travel. Though no longer part of the national rail network, these wonderful old trains have made a welcome return to the tracks and are a great way to discover the delights of the Cotswolds.

18

Cotswold Archery, Batsford Arboretum GL56 9AD

Deep in the Cotswolds, at Batsford Arboretum, near Moreton-in-Marsh, you’ll find this dedicated archery range. There is a wide choice of bows to use and expert tutors are always on hand.

Shopping

11

Rosie B Home & Interiors, Horsefair, Chipping Norton OX7 5AL

All the items in this eclectic shop are personally sourced and chosen by Rosie herself. Situated in Horsefair in Chipping Norton, it’s a good place to get ideas and buy special gifts; you’ll find vintage and antique pieces for the home, mirrors, kitchenalia, glass and ceramics.

12

Iona House Gallery, 4 High Street, Woodstock OX20 1TF

Founded in 2002, this highly respected Woodstock-based art gallery exhibits paintings, sculpture, ceramics, glass, craft and jewellery from established artists and burgeoning talents. More than 100 English, Scottish and Russian artists are represented.

13

All Dressed Up, 8 Middle Row, Chipping Norton OX7 5NH

A children's boutique with its own brand of clothing, designed by its award-winning owner, Julia Cook. There's a wide selection of other labels, too, such as Hatley, Frugi and Toby Tiger. This is a treasure trove for children up to the age of eight.

14

Teddy Bears of Witney, 99 High Street, Witney OX28 6HY

If you love teddy bears, a visit to this charming shop is a must. Established in 1985, Teddy Bears of Witney has the finest and most collectable teddy bears in the world. On permanent display, among other familiar old friends, is Aloysius, featured in the 1980s television series, Brideshead Revisited.

16

The Old Pill Factory, 53 High Street, Witney OX28 6JA

Spread over two floors, the Old Pill Factory in Witney is the place to visit for furniture, glass, toys, clothes and garden pieces. You’ll find a group of dedicated antiques experts who are passionate about antiques and vintage homeware.

17

Tickitty Boo, 6 Middle Row, Chipping Norton OX7 5NH

A children’s boutique with its own brand of clothing, designed by its award-winning owner, Julia Cook. There’s a wide selection of other labels, too, such as Hatley, Frugi and Toby Tiger. This is a treasure trove for children up to the age of eight.

Places to visit

5

Chastleton House, Moreton-in-Marsh GL56 0SU

Near Moreton-in-Marsh, Chastleton House is a fine Jacobean mansion with a striking south front. The house was built by a local wool merchant in the early 17th century, who purchased the estate from Robert Catesby, one of the conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

6

Chedworth Roman Villa, Yanworth GL54 3LJ

Situated in a secluded part of the Coln valley, the Roman villa at Chedworth dates from around AD 120 and is open daily from mid-February to the end of November and was originally believed to have been a farmhouse.

7

Rousham House & Garden, Rousham OX25 4QU

With the pretty River Cherwell flowing through the grounds, Rousham is one of Oxfordshire's loveliest mansions. Dating back to 1635, the house was remodelled over 100 years later and there is more than a hint of the Italianate about the garden with its cascades and ponds, groves, the Temple of Echo and the seven-arched portico known as Praeneste. A peaceful stroll along the tree-shaded Long Walk is a must.

8

Kelmscott Manor, Kelmscott GL7 3HJ

This beautiful house, built from lovely mellow golden stone, was the Cotswold retreat of William Morris and his family, friends and colleagues. Kelmscott is home to fascinating and important collections of textiles, furniture and paintings, spanning more than 300 years and reflecting the ideas and creative legacy of those who lived and worked here.

9

Minster Lovell Hall, Minster Lovell OX29 0RR

Shrouded in mystery and with a haunting, tangible air of the distant past, the romantic ruins of Minster Lovell Hall stand on the banks of the River Windrush. The village of Minster Lovell captures the essence of sublime Cotswolds' architecture.

10

Cogges Manor Farm, Witney OX28 3LA

Cogges Manor consists of a 13th-century house and 17th-century farm buildings. These days it's a popular heritage centre with a strong emphasis on horticulture, rural crafts and family-friendly entertainment. It's also just the place to help understand the origins of early rural life and put the past into perspective.

Walking

www.walkinginoxfordshire.co.uk
www.oxfordshirecotswolds.org
You really are spoilt for choice in terms of where to walk in this idyllic corner of the country. If you just want an easy stroll from the front door of the Swan, take a walk through the beautiful valley of the Windrush to the little medieval church of St Oswald, built on the site of a Roman villa. The air hangs heavy with history here and the river looks heavenly on a summer’s evening, winding its way through the attractive countryside. Elsewhere, there are numerous walks of all shapes and sizes and there’s also a good selection of long-distance trails, which can be adapted into manageable chunks – the Heart of England Way, the Wychwood Way, the Oxfordshire Way and the D’Arcy Dalton Way among them.

Cycling

www.cycle-route.com
The Oxfordshire Cycle Way runs near the Swan so it’s only a matter of minutes before you’re following this popular route, one of many enjoyable cycle rides following quiet lanes and off-road stretches through the region. For something a bit different, try a combination of bike and train, using the nearby Cotswold Line. A string of local stations enables you to use the service on a hop-on, hop-off basis. If you get the chance, call at Kingham, which is served by the Cotswold Line and was once judged ‘England’s Favourite Village’ by Country Life.

Events

www.oxfordshirecotswolds.org
www.chippingnortontheatre.com
www.cogges.org.uk
Look out for a great many festivals, special events, sporting fixtures and cultural evenings in the Cotswolds region. Cogges Manor Farm (see places to visit) hosts traditional festivals and theatrical performances, while Chipping Norton’s theatre boasts an eclectic programme of live theatre, music, dance and comedy, culminating in the renowned annual pantomime. Among other annual events are the Blenheim Horse Trials and Stroud Food Festival in September and the Cheltenham Literary Festival in October.

Getting there

Location, Location, Location

By Road: Take the A40 from Oxford to Cheltenham. After Witney, the village and inn is signposted on the right.

Address:

Burford, Swinbrook, Oxfordshire, OX18 4DY

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