For us Londoners, a weekend away seems to always be a topic of conversation, but we also don’t want to always spend hours and hours on a train to Cornwall or Devon to get our hit of the beautiful English countryside. Thankfully, just an hour and twenty minutes from Paddington, are the rolling hills and meadows of the Cotswolds, and a whole host of cosy hotels such as The Feathered Nest Inn.
Keen to embrace the countryside and take in the fresh air we set off on foot from Kingham station. Google Maps indicates it’s a mere 35-minute walk and we calculate with our city legs we can easily shave off five to seven minutes. It turns out this is a mistake; the winding country lanes are pretty terrifying when there are no footpaths and you’ve blind corners every five minutes. Spotting a public footpath, we went through a cornfield and on through a field full of sheep. As they started to gather and stare, the thought of Googling ‘can a heard of sheep kill humans?’ did cross our minds. Still, after a few hairy chicanes, we could finally see The Feathered Nest Country Inn. A former malthouse dating back to the 15th century, it’s now home to four bedrooms, a pub and restaurant overlooking Evenlode Valley. Lovely.
We were in the Pheasant Nest room, which has a king size-bed, en-suite bathroom with roll-top bath and a walk-in shower. The traditional decor is cute, smart and tidy, and there’s in-room teas and coffees with fresh milk just a phone call away, though Mr Clooney won’t be on hand to show you how to work the Nespresso machine if you aren’t familiar.
Sat in the bar with a glass of wine, we’re brought up to speed with the evening menu. Sitting between an a la carte and a tasting menu, the 15 strong options are designed for people to try lots of dishes, with a recommendation of five per person being the sweet spot.
In charge of the kitchen is Kuba Winkowski, previously of Le Gavroche, Rhodes 24 and Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. Recently named National Chef of the Year, Kuba brings his Polish roots to the kitchen where all produce is baked, fermented, churned, cured, dry aged and smoked in house. Yep he got a smokehouse specially built on-site. The snacks, particularly the smoked haddock tart and the lamb and mint croquette, took our expectations for dinner to epic heights. How can something so small be so mighty?
Soft, juicy scallops that came with a carrot, miso and caraway froth; super fresh and beautifully presented sea bass ceviche with tiger’s milk, a little avocado and radish; and a thick, generous portion of John Dory atop a bed of mussels, samphire and sea kale all lived up to the strong start. We also loved the pink spring lamb served alongside broad beans, buttermilk tzatziki and mint. The final dish was sticky toffee pudding and labelled by our waiter as probably the best sticky toffee pudding he’s ever tried… in the world. It was outrageously great. Each dish was paired with an equally beautiful wine and the whole experience was pretty damn special.
Awaking to the sounds of singing birds after a comfortable, quiet sleep we were set to face round two: breakfast. There’s a table full of breads, fruits and cereals but for us it was always going to be the full English over the healthy approach. With sausage, bacon, eggs, tomato, mushrooms, black pudding and fried bread, it showcased produce from the local area. The only thing letting it down is the lack of beans; come on, it’s a must.
The outside patio is where we spent the afternoon enjoying that view and drinking tea. You couldn’t get more English could you? For a weekend of peace and quiet, The Feathered Nest is the perfect spot. The food is definitely worth a visit alone and the service was absolutely on point in every way.
The Feathered Nest offers ‘The Gourmet Getaway’ package, available on overnight stays on Thursday and Sundays only with prices starting from £332 per night for double occupancy, which included 4-course dinner (excluding supplements), bed and breakfast.
Feathered Nest Inn, Nether Westcote, Oxfordshire OX7 6SD