Recharge your batteries in a 16th Century traditional Cotswold inn

Recharge your batteries in a 16th Century traditional Cotswold inn

First impressions on arriving at The Wild Duck were that we had stepped back in time as the frontage and welcoming gardens of the inn are very traditional and look stunning at this time of year.

Looking for the reception area, we were amused to find that there isn’t one – this is a family-run inn where the owner and staff can be found behind the bar serving customers, as well as looking after residents. We were shown to a lovely double room, tastefully furnished, called The Chinese suite, which is in the oldest part of the building, dating from the 16th century. Converted from an attached barn, it has A–framed exposed beams and a 10ft high, wonderfully comfy hand-made four-poster bed. It was delightfully spacious with a large digital TV and DVD player and tea and coffee-making facilities. The ensuite had a rainforest shower and a delightful slipper bath, with complimentary toiletries.

The welcome information folder in our room stated, ‘We are a 16th century inn with 16th century character, which means the building is a bit quirky, with creaks and noises, and the hot water can sometimes take a while to run.’ It did look and feel quirky but we experienced no such difficulties with the hot water or with the digital TV in the room. The Wi-Fi was a little more unreliable and we had to stand outside the inn to get a decent mobile phone reception, but we had come away for a rest – not to surf the internet – so if want to get away from everything, but not be totally cut-off, it’s ideal!

This is a really pretty inn and the staff are incredibly friendly and helpful. The atmosphere is relaxed and it’s a very popular, sociable spot that seems to attract a wide variety of ages, from young people to families, and dogs are welcome, most of which were outside in the beer garden, soaking up the sun, as we were! It’s all very rustic and rural, but genuinely so.  The enclosed courtyard is overlooked by a huge apple tree which helps shade the various tables and chairs, so it’s perfect for eating outside and there are patio heaters for when the weather is not so kind. We enjoyed a drink from the bar and sat in the garden reading and relaxing for a good few hours.

We were lucky enough to visit on a lovely summer’s weekend and enjoyed a walk round the village before setting off down part of The Thames Path National Trail which runs from the village of Ewen to Somerford Keynes and beyond. The Wild Duck is also a good base to visit the nearby Cotswold Water Park, a network of lakes with various activities from rally driving to sailing, fishing to cycle hire and horse-riding to paintballing. If you prefer something more sedate, try a spot of wildlife watching with provided hides and bird-watching points. There is plenty of parking and facilities for the disabled, too.

Back at the Wild Duck, we looked forward to dinner – and were not disappointed. The country style restaurant is very quaint and we loved the bines of hops twisted round the walls, combined with old oil paintings, rich red walls, rustic tables and chairs, candles and low beams. It was all very relaxed and welcoming. The inn states the restaurant ‘specialises in fresh, seasonal fare’ and the food was utterly delicious.

For starters I had sliced smoked duck, red onion chutney with crisp leaves and balsamic dressing with pine nuts, followed by pan-fried sea bass with pesto crust and cherry tomatoes with new pots.

My husband opted for wild duck antipasti selection and meats with cheese, a veg medley and bread, followed by belly loin chop and buttered bubble and squeak with apple sauce. It was all beautifully presented and with a very short waiting time – essential when you’re hungry!  Pudding was black pepper popcorn sundae with vanilla ice cream and nuts. They were good size portions, too!

The bar seems to be the heart of the inn and is open every day of the week, with an open fire, which is no doubt very popular in winter! The bar serves a variety of food and a full range of traditional ales and wines.

For residents, there’s an exclusive lounge, The Grouse Room, where you can relax to read the papers, have tea or just chill. There’s a large open fire in here, too, perfect for winter chills.

We really enjoyed our stay and recommend it as a base for exploring the area, whether walking, watersports or sightseeing. Cirencester, ‘the gateway to the Cotswolds’, is only three miles away,  the Regency town of Cheltenham Spa 18 miles away, Swindon 13, and the beautiful city of Bath 25 miles.

  • Useful info:
    The Wild Duck Inn
    Drakes Island
    Glos GL7 6BY
    Call: 01285 770310
  • Single occupancy from £70 per night (with double bed)
    Doubles from £110 per night (standard four poster), double occupancy
    Rooms 9 and 10, £135 per night
    The Chinese Suite, £165 per night
    Price includes continental breakfast and VAT
    A full English breakfast is an additional £8.95
    Meals are served in the dining room and lunch is served all day at weekends