Take a weekend break at The Grapevine Hotel
Product: The Grapevine Hotel Sheep Street Stow-on-the-Wold Price: £99.00 Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)
Stow on the Wold is one of those places you just have to visit at least once. Built of honey-coloured Cotswold Stone, surrounded by countryside and full of elegant and interesting old tea rooms, craft shops and art galleries, it’s the ideal place to spend a relaxing weekend pottering round the shops and relaxing. At the height of the Cotswold wool industry the town was famous for its huge annual fairs where as many as 20,000 sheep were sold at one time. At one end of the huge Market Square is the ancient cross, and at the other the town stocks, shaded between an old elm tree.
The 17th Century privately-owned Grapevine Hotel stands on Sheep Street, named after its 160-year-old vine, and is the perfect base for a weekend retreat. There are old tiled floors, exposed brickwork and beams, 22 individually-styled bedrooms, a bar and restaurant, which is also open to non-residents, and free parking. We stayed in a twin room with traditional décor but if you want true romance, there’s a four-poster bedroom available.
The view from our room at the rear of the hotel was of a higgledy-piggledy seemingly random collection of rooftops – almost Dickensian – perfect for the time of year we visited (Christmas!). We stayed in the extension, which was added to the hotel in the Nineties. It was rustic, warm, cosy and immaculate. Complementary tea and coffee, toiletries and Wi-F were provided and the room featured a lounge area a wall-mounted flatscreen TV, as well another TV in the bedroom area. The en-suite bathroom was large (and warm!) with a power shower and fluffy towels.
We found the staff exceptionally friendly here and more than happy to tell us the history of the hotel. I do so like a hotel with a bit of history! A former b&b, two houses either side were knocked into one and a restaurant was built at the rear in the form of a conservatory, constructed around their already 120-year-old grapevine, giving them a unique attraction. It was eventually renamed The Grapevine and in 1991 two more extensions were added, giving them 10 extra rooms.
We spent the day exploring the shops and buying knick-knacks before heading back to the hotel for a pre-dinner drink in the bar. As the hotel is a former dwelling, you get the impression you are staying in someone’s home; it’s charming and understated but also tasteful and very welcoming – especially the open fire. The bar closes at 11pm each night as there are rooms above and they want guests to relax undisturbed.
Heading down to dinner, our meal was served in the huge conservatory in which thrives the magnificent vine. Light, airy and fascinating (there were some green leaves still left on the plant) it was a unique experience and a real talking point. The grapevine is over 160 years old, making it the second oldest one in the UK, and is a Black Hamburg or Muscat of Hamburg grape variety. Unfortunately they don’t get enough grapes to make their own wine (this is England after all!) but do they use the produce to make chutney to go with their cheese boards.
I chose pan-roasted lamb rump with maple roasted root vegetables, parmentier potatoes and rustic tapenade and my companion opted for lasagne, garlic bread and salad. Dessert consisted of chocolate and caramel tart with pecan nuts and raspberry compote, and burnt lemon meringue pie with pine nuts, candied lemon and lemon syrup (plus the obligatory bottle of wine!). The food was delicious and well-proportioned and the service excellent, smooth and seamless.
After dinner, it was time to retire to the lounge area with its open fire and beautifully decorated Christmas tree. We sat with an after-dinner drink looking out through the bay window at the twinkling Christmas lights in the main street – this really is a lovely time to visit!
Next morning we headed down to the conservatory again to tuck into a hearty full English breakfast with endless tea – the perfect finish to our weekend!
I highly recommend this hotel – at any time of the year – it has a lovely ambience and the staff are exceptionally friendly and professional.
- Useful information
The Grapevine Hotel
Tel: 01451 830 344
- Rooms priced from £99 per night, including full English breakfast
If you book a table in advance, you can enjoy a three-course meal in the restaurant for just £30 per person.
Nearby attractions include Blenheim Palace, Batsford Arboretum, Cheltenham racecourse, Broadway town, Bourton on the Water model village, Birdland.