We have been highlighting some great dog-friendly hotels we’ve found near London. These are all locations that are within a comfortable driving distance of the city and could be visited with your dog of choice over a weekend. You can see our other selections here and here.
There is just something special about the Cotswolds. The rolling hills, the fields of sheep, the palatial manors hidden behind massive stone walls from another era. The Cotswolds are what we Americans consider to be the quintessential English countryside. Everything is old and quaint. There are small villages nestled along babbling brooks and streams with old stone homes along impossibly narrow two-lane roads. It could be 2015 or perhaps 1715, because in appearance, few things have changed. If we had a few million extra pounds in the bank, the thought of owning a home in the Cotswolds would be intriguing. Unfortunately, we do not, but luckily, there some fantastic properties that exist that allow you escape the madness of the urban jungle, relax with some creature comforts and enjoy a quality walkabout in the countryside in a pair of “wellies” (rain boots for the non-UK people). The Old Swan and Minster Mill is one such hotel.
On our excursion to enjoy dog-friendly properties in the UK, we stumbled rather serendipitously upon The Old Swan and Minster Mill, which has possibly the oldest sounding hotel name of all time, befitting its location. While the property looked quite nice from what we could tell online, in person it is truly stunning. Hidden down a small lane off the A40, the property is split between two buildings (Old Swan and Minster Mill, so the name does make sense) on 60 acres of countryside, babbling brook and all.After hopping out of our car to check in while Julie walked Basil, I was shocked by the perfectly landscaped grounds and a lobby that felt like it was from the 1600s (which it is, since the Minster Mill building is 400 years old). We dropped off our stuff, grabbed our wellies and our beagle friend, Basil, and hit one of the organized walking trails originating at the hotel. The walk was great and the instructions provided from the hotel were extraordinarily accurate, which is nice because we have become a bit lost during previous walks in the country.
While we enjoy the English countryside, our dog truly loves it. Off leash, huge empty fields, herds of sheep to stare at, plenty of opportunities to go to the bathroom and non-stop tail wagging. The shortest trail is just a little under 4 miles, which was an adequate distance for our ten-year old beagle and enough time for us to relax and enjoy the views and even some medieval ruins.
The hotel did a great job accommodating our dog as well, with a dedicated bed, a full bowl of food upon arrival and an extra small bag of food just in case. Basil even came to lunch with us at the pub inside the Old Swan building, where the three of us split a bag of crisps to keep him content. He is a big fan of mature cheese and onion crisps. And yes, he is spoiled.
Of course, the Old Swan and Minster Mill was just as accommodating to us humans, as we had a fantastic room in Minster Mill, with our own stone patio and working outdoor fire pit. I tend to avoid old-fashion inns and hotels, with too much floral wallpaper, uncomfortable furniture and frilly curtains. Luckily, Old Swan and Minster Mill preserved its heritage while upgrading things, like flat-screen TV’s, fantastic rain-head showers and powerful (and free!) wi-fi. It is the little touches that make a difference though, like the complimentry sloe gin in a decanter on the bedside table, or the box of Cotswold Chocolate Company goodies on our pillow when we arrived.The staff was fantastic and really helpful, providing us with a tour of the property, which includes a brook full of trout for fishing, their own herb and vegetable garden, chicken coops, a spa, fitness room and even a massive, almost life-size chessboard outside in the garden. The food at the pub was great as well, as we enjoyed a glass of wine and some risotto for dinner while nestled up to a massive hearth with a crackling fire. It is worth noting also that they installed an ‘Archimedes Screw’ along the brook next to Minster Mill, which generates enough electricity to run the property. Old fashioned, yet still green. Smart.
Our only regret about our stay there was its duration. We only had one quick night and had to leave far too early in the morning to head home. The Old Swan and Minster Mill deserves more time than that. From the walking trails, to the fishing, the spa, the pub and even a tennis court, there is a lot to do to occupy your time while staying at the hotel. Best of all, it is surrounded by some of the most beautiful landscapes in all of the UK. We will definitely be back! We promised Basil.
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