All hail The Crown inn, Woodstock
Cool place to stay alert! Muddy Stilettos recently had the rather preeny pleasure of being the first journo to try out bedrooms in the 18th century former coaching inn of The Crown in Woodstock (I know, where’s my trophy?). The Crown has given the other pubs and inns in the town a bit of a shake up since it launched in 2015, but the rooms have seen months of delay and were only completed in March.
I’m a big fan of Woodstock which for its size, boasts a huge number of indie businesses, pubs and hotels. Though it’s a tough compete with the Palace visitors down the road, the vast majority of whom don’t venture past the Churchillian walls, there are some lovely businesses in the town and it’s well worth a mooch for an hour or two into the likes of gift shop Fleur, Woldstone jewellery (I love), Maybury interiors and the cavernous Real Wood Furniture Co. Hampers deli is an institution, Nevrus does great hair (read my review here), The Kings Hotel is charming, and of course The Bear Hotel has just won Best Large Hotel in the Muddy Awards.
Plenty to recommend Woodstock then, and now The Crown has put a sprinkling of fairy dust on the top as a final flourish because the offering is really fab – it manages to combine an urbane, almost Soho Group look, glam enough to satisfy a London hipster’s idea of a country inn, with being down to earth enough to keep the locals happy.
Its styling owes more to Scandinavia than the Cotswolds, its retro modern furnishings quite different to anything else in the area. Lots of art adorning heritage-coloured walls, little interior flourishes like tiled floors, decorative chairs in small corners.
There’s a chilled-out lounge area with fire, that also has tables on an evening, a bar/pubby side, a lovely conservatory area with an open kitchen and pizza oven that looks bright and inviting in the day and twinkly and atmospheric at night. And off the conservatory is a small outdoor courtyard.
The 5 ensuite bedrooms are large, eclectically furnished. My room had a lovely sofa, kingsize bed, an extravagant bathroom.
Cute tea and coffee facilities too.
I chose to eat in the convervatory, mainly because I eat in gazillions of pubs but not many glass houses, and it was a good call. The room was really buzzy, and as a sad single diner, I managed to sit on the side of the room and people watch while I knocked back a glass or two which was perfect. (This shot was taken at the end of the evening, hence no people). Pretty, no?
The food was excellent, no two ways about that and very sensibly priced – most entreés around £5-8, mains coming in around £13, and desserts between £5-7 . My starter for ten, crispy squid with aïoli was light, crispy, and generous portioned.
And sirloin salad was just beautiful, the meat tender and flavoursome. Seriously tasty.
A lemon posset pushed things into piggy territory, but was light, creamy, very lemony and small enough to justify scoffing the whole thing.
Then it was up to bed, blinds down and lights out until morning when I awoke to the traffic – The Crown is next to the main road, and you will hear rumblings. It didn’t bother me at all, but those with bucolic expectations of countryside from your window should know that this isn’t the proposition for The Crown. Its position is wonderfully central in town, it’s a buzzy, atmospheric place, and some ‘life’ noise is inevitable.
I had an early start so just had time for a coffee downstairs rather than a full breakfast, managed to snatch a few photos in decent light and I was on my way, impressed, happy, keen to return another time.
It’s a dream for anyone on business, or for parties (with five bedrooms you can rent out the whole hotel!), but also lovely as a romantic but unstuffy option for couples looking to explore Woodstock, Oxford and surrounding areas for a few days. Mr Muddy, did you hear? That, my darling, was the thud of a big fat hint.
High Street Woodstock Oxfordshire OX20 1TE. thecrownwoodstock.com