Wychwood classic: The Swan Inn
Looking for a romantic escape or a dog-friendly stride out and Sunday lunch? The Cotswolds' pretty Maytime Inn has your back and then some.
The Maytime Inn is a stylish, quirky-round-the-edges Cotswold inn set in some glorious countryside in Asthall in the Windrush Valley, only six miles from Witney but somehow feeling very timeless and rural.
The 17th century pub was taken over by Dominic and Alfie (the dog – no kidding) last year, and the dated interior was ripped out and replaced with a sympathetic refurb with Cotswold stone and log fires taking centre stage, but where there are a few welcome funkier touches, particularly in the bar and dining space, with some very cool wooden bar stools; a bar frame punctuated by traditional beer barrels; slouchy leather sofas and metal recycled stools.
Asthall is famous in its own right, as home of the Mitford sisters, and it also has a stunning 11th century church set next to the Manor house that I’m totally gutted that I didn’t get to visit in any great detail – I arrived late to the pub in the evening and had to leave early the next morning but I drove by it twice and it struck a chord with me.
Asthill is in an area with an abundance of wonderful things to see and do. Plenty of walking from the front door of The Maytime Inn itself but also you’re near to the Cotswold Wildlife Park and Burford if you have kids or parents in mind.
Anyway, back to The Maytime Inn. This, in my opinion, is a great option for an overnighter/weekender as there are 6 very well appointed ensuite bedrooms. Here’s my vlog, that takes (*cough*) seamlessly you through the garden, courtyard and into the bedroom.
You can see from the vlog that my room was not particularly spacious but well appointed, with lovely Cowshed products. Ideal really and with prices starting around £95 it’s good value too.
The main eating/bar area is open plan and attractive – a large sweeping bar area, a mezzanine with a lovely private room beyond it (great for a private party and with no charge!) , then a large informal pubby eating area split into two areas by a large inglenook fireplace.
The food was very good – come here in a flash for a lunch, dinner, a beer with a snacky sandwich. Don’t expect to fall off your perch but crowd-pleasing grub it certainly is. Plus dogs are welcome of course – Alfie wouldn’t have it any other way.
I started with quails eggs – wonderful, fiddly little fellas and I’m hopeless at peeling them – maybe not ideal if you’re starving because you might be tempted to scoff them with the shells still on.
Then it was the fish of the day…
…. followed by a wibbly wobbly fruity panna cotta.
Breakfast was on the mezzanine in the private dining space which is lovely and light during the day, though I couldn’t quite stomach a cooked breakfast less than 10 hours after my dins, so went uncharacteristically frugal with a pastry and coffee and then had to belt off to Cheltenham. But I genuinely wish I could have spent longer here – it would be a fabulous meeting spot for mates, or for a day out with a walk attached.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Couples looking for an escape weekend in an idyllic area; Sunday lunchers; dog walkers as the inn is super woof friendly; local drop-inners; gin lovers (tis a gin palace here – loads of different brands on offer). There’s a stonkingly lovely garden backing onto fields, and in the spring/summer the terrace will be an atmospheric place to hang out and it’s all on one level and child-friendly.
Not for: Hard to know who wouldn’t like it really but I suppose those who are looking for something very unCotswoldian (yes, in the Cotwolds!) might not find anything ‘different’ enough in the tasteful interiors of The Maytime Inn. The food is very good but superfoodies might err towards the established Cotwold big guns.
££: Mid-range I’d say. A 3 course Sunday lunch is £22, a la carte is £6.50-8 for starters, £11-20 for mains, and £5-10 for desserts; with an 8oz rib eye steak just under £20.
The Maytime Inn, Asthall, Burford, OX18 4HW. Tel: 01993822068. themaytime.com