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The Chesterton, Bicester

Deco styling, black marble bathrooms and oodles of charm make this renovated hotel, just a few miles from Bicester Village, a fashionable overnighter. Here's what you need to know.

After an lovely day shopping at Bicester Village, the last thing you need is a long drive home. Check in to The Chesterton for a city chic stay that’s guaranteed to keep that designer vibe going a little bit longer – just don’t forget to pack your diva shoes (or buy more – great excuse).

This recently redesigned London-grade hotel is housed in a traditional Cotswold-esque farmhouse in the quaint and calm village of Chesterton, just a few miles (but worlds apart) from one of Britain’s most popular tourist attractions – book in before it gets booked up.

 

THE LOWDOWN

The Chesterton’s owner, manager, designer and all round head-honcho, Kaven Gill, knows a thing or two about high-end hotels following a successful stint in the City. And when he escaped the Square Mile, this luxury connoisseur despaired at the lack of city standard establishments in rural settings and so set about creating his own. 

He purchased the property (at that point a dated hotel lacking in charisma) in May 2018 and began giving this perfectly positioned former farmhouse a new lease of life.

And thank God he did, as this man has seriously good taste. A huge fan of designer fashion himself, Kaven chose interiors gorgeous enough to wow even the sharpest Bicester taste-maker.

The communal spaces and bedrooms are peppered with a neat mix of industrial, scandi, deco and mid century influences – a plush pink and brass statement chair here, a leather clad dining booth with industrial lighting there – that kind of thing. 

All 18 bedrooms will be polished to perfection over the next few months; the restaurant, lobby, lounge and bar have undergone a serious re fit; and a top-end treatment room is now up and running (complete with some pleasingly advanced treatment options). 

And for anyone planning a wedding, the function room, with capacity for a whopping 260 guests, is currently under construction.

PILLOW TALK

The spacious beamed bedrooms have a fantastic brand-spanking-new feel to them, with toe-curlingly squidgy carpets, of-the-moment textured wall paper and, of course, a fresh coat of paint. The colour palette mirrors that of the restaurant, with its dark green and brass accents, and botanical prints fill the walls, as in the rest of the hotel. And the bathrooms…oh the bathrooms. I have to admit slightly losing myself over the floor to ceiling black marble en suite, complete with on trend industrial brass taps and accessories. You’ll either love it or hate it but for me it was spot on.

THE VIBE

This slick hotel would, of course (that’s what it’s designed for), be perfect for a night away with the girls, or your Mum, after a day at Bicester, or Blenheim for that matter, as it’s only ten miles from this most beautiful of British heritage sites.

The fashion-forward interiors don’t really lend themselves to a family trip – think sticky hands on velvet upholstery and very un-toddler-friendly angles. However, if you choose to have a family meal in the restaurant (it would be a lovely dining room to book for a special occasion), there are high chairs and the friendly staff would I’m sure help you with anything you needed.

The communal spaces at The Chesterton are atmospheric, glitzy and very much lend themselves to being enjoyed with a cocktail in hand. For me, the dining room was the pièce de resistance, with its deco’esque chequer-board flooring, leather upholstery and brass accents (if you are into brass, this really is the establishment for you).

Kaven has lightened up the potentially heavy Thirties aesthetic with strong floral statement wall paper and a slick wall-mounted logo, creating an atmosphere that is definitely more Dolce & Gabbana than dull. The real question is, what to wear to dinner?

The lounge has a modern boudoir feel which makes you want to put on some lipstick and pretend you’re in Mad Men (less the misogyny, of course). It’s a glam space, and perfect for afternoon tea or a cocktail.

 

SCOFF & QUAFF

I have already waxed-lyrical about the dining room styling, but just to re-iterate, the atmosphere in the restaurant is top notch – the perfect place to enjoy a dinner a deux or with the ladies.

My husband and I chose pretty classic options from the ‘European’ menu (I realise that’s a terrible way to describe it, but it was a mix of French, British, Italian and I think Spanish flavours, so it really is fitting): duck egg and asparagus, calamari, a hearty chicken salad (him not me), well seasoned and tender steak with frites below.

We followed this with chocolate cheesecake and then a cheeseboard, all washed down with a glass of Picpoul each, Malbec and an unusual Ribena-like dessert wine, Elysium Black Muscat, from California. 

AND BREATHE/ plan workout. We were, quite literally, stuffed. In sum, the food was flavoursome, the dishes well executed, and the staff friendly (but not too friendly).

The Afternoon Tea Experience is also worthy of note – all the cakes and other treats are home made and guests are presented with a selection of 12 designer teas, which you choose by sniffing different samples. At the moment an Afternoon Tea and 25 minute beauty treatment is £37.50 per person, or £75.00 for two. A steal, if you ask us.

OUT AND ABOUT

The Chesterton is a super-convenient 2.1 miles, or a 6 minute drive, from Britain’s top high-end shopping destination, Bicester Village. Simply load up with designer clobber, sling it in the boot and roll down the road to the quaint village of Chesterton for a surprisingly urbane overnight stay.

If the crowds at BV make you feel more faint than fabulous, perhaps you could use the Chesterton as a jumping off point from which to explore Blenheim and the North Oxfordshire Cotswolds.

Or maybe you just need a night away from the kids – in which case book in with a friend and make sure to indulge in one of the relaxing treatment options.

 

THE MUDDY VERDICT

 Good for: Fashion lovers, Girls’ Night Outers, a treat for your mums, family gatherings, weddings, general relaxation, design-buffs. This fashion-led boutique hotel will give you a style fix, whether you choose to shop at nearby Bicester or just indulge in afternoon tea or a cocktail in the lounge.

Not for: Those looking for a country vibe – you’d be better off slinging your hook somewhere less glam, tbh.

The damage: Foodwise, I’d say it’s good value. Starters are all around £7.50, mains from £13.95 for a halloumi burger up to £24.95 for a ribeye stake and desserts are all £6.50. An overnighter will cost you from £130 for a standard double or twin or from £160 for a deluxe double.

The Chesterton, Chesterton, Nr Bicester, Oxon, OX26 1UE, Tel: 01869 326550

Words: Sophie McIntyre

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