Winter in London is a slog: that rain that hits you sideways; the sleet that falls from the grey old sky; the sludge that buses send over your shoes; it’s dark when you wake up, it’s dark when you get home…it’s all a bit too much isn’t it? If that sounds familiar, then how about spending time by a log fire, in a big old comfy bed or a roll-top bath, in a country pub with hearty food and plenty of wine? Much better.
Let us tell you all about The George Inn, which is an hour’s train ride from Marylebone to Banbury on the edge of the Cotswolds where we recently spent a nice, slow and very relaxing weekend. The pub is ancient; the 17th century building still has a thatched roof and a flagstone floor, there are local ales on at the bar and with rooms above it and more out by the garden out the back. It’s a beaut, a real gem steeped in history, it literally is history. If those walls could talk, well there would probably be a Netflix special.
A true country pub, The George Inn has nine rooms in total, all with en-suites and underfloor heating, and the three above the pub itself have roll-top baths – we stayed in one of these and our first impressions were captured vocally through the sentiments of ‘bloody lovely’. The room is traditional in decor with a modern twist; dark furnishings, upholstered chairs, curved legs on the side tables with sage green walls, funky throws, and electric framed pictures scattered throughout the walls.
The garden is a bit of a haven, with plenty of seating where you can while away the day sipping your way through the drinks menu, a big hobby of ours. Dinner takes place in the restaurant where vintage film posters don the walls. Head Chef Valerio Grimaldi-Plant is in charge of a winter warming menu with dishes such as local venison haunch with fondant celeriac, Piccolo parsnip, pickled carrot & red wine jus, and duck breast with fresh blackberry, garden beet and potato terrine.
We started with a very interesting carbonara egg yolk, which was a crispy hen’s egg alongside pecorino cream and guanciale oil, an excellent combination of textures. For mains, we opted for The George pie, a staple on the menu though the filling changes frequently. Ours was a rich, chicken and leek pie – a full pie we may add, not a pie top – and it proved to be an excellent choice, served with creamy mash, seasonal greens and red wine jus. For dessert, the dark chocolate caught our attention and rightly so, with Aero chocolate, a rich chocolate sponge, honeycomb and chocolate mousse housed inside a hard shell. It’s a work of art as well as one for the sweet toothed out theere, very naughty indeed.
After a very comfy night’s sleep, we woke just before a knock at the door, which was our breakfast delivery. A hefty tray was crammed full with the perfect brekkie set-up; pastries, toast, jams, butter, french press coffee, juices, yoghurts and one of the best Full English Breakfasts we’ve ever had; two fried eggs, black pudding, girthy sausage, back bacon, crispy hash brown, beans and tomato, the works. Out of this world.
With the entirety of Oxfordshire’s rolling countryside to get lost in, there is plenty to explore and Broughton Castle, Bleinheim Palace, the Cotswold Distillery and Cotswold Brewing Company are reachable by car too. A stay at The George Inn is exactly what a weekend should be.
Prices start from £110 staying on a B&B basis.
The George Inn, Lower Street, Barford St Michael, Banbury, OX15 0RH