Everything Lady Carole Bamford touches turns to gold from organic food and fashionable home furnishings, to wellness spas and, as it turns out, hospitality. (She might be based primarily in The Cotswolds — there are also Daylesford Farm shops and Bamford spas in London — but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in the country who hasn’t heard the name ‘Carole Bamford’.)
Last year, she added The Fox at Oddington (Moreton-in-March, GL56) to her impressive roster (which includes the perennially popular and understated Wild Rabbit in Kingham); this year The Bell at Charlbury (above; Chipping Norton, OX7).
The former is a 19th-century inn-turned-pub with rooms, a couple of miles away from the original Daylesford Farm shop. There was unfounded village gossip — prior to its opening — that The Fox would all be too chi-chi for this tiny village. ‘Oh my, this is an upgrade,’ exclaimed someone excitedly as they walked past my table in the ground floor pub-cum-restaurant. Unfounded indeed.
There are few surprises here and it’s all very recognisably Daylesford — and thank God for that — including the pub menu (look out for local Jeremy Clarkson’s Hawkstone Lager behind the bar), but that’s surely why people keep coming back for more.
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On the other side of the road, there’s an elegant, four-bedroom townhouse — The Coachman’s House — that wouldn’t look amiss in a Richard Curtis film. When I stayed it was peeking out from behind some scaffolding; now, it’s fully open and available to hire on an exclusive-use basis.
There are six bedrooms in total.
Colour has been used sparingly. Here, texture reigns supreme. Think undyed linens, hefty and roughly hewn wooden beams, and exposed brick walls.
My favourite is Master’s (above) with its steeply pitched ceiling and very unique, open-top four poster bed. Part of Lady Bamford’s unending talent is her ability to create spaces that feel incredibly simple, but are in fact very hard to replicate and maintain at home. The bedrooms at The Fox are no different. If I could’ve loaded all the furniture up onto a lorry and taken it home, I would’ve done it.
Eating and drinking
The ground floor pub is open daily. There are normal lunch and dinner sittings Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; bar snack and pizza sittings on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and Sunday evenings; and Sunday roasts served on, you guessed it, Sunday lunchtimes. Incidentally, this is the only place I’ve ever been tempted to order a vegetarian nut roast in — and I’d order it again. A special mention too, for the aperitifs which pack just the right kind of punch.
Choose to sit in a cosy nook in the bar or at a slightly grander oak table in the Saddle Room restaurant space.
The menu changes with the seasons — in the height of summer, the vanilla soft serve with a chocolate flake went down particularly well — and ingredients are well-sourced (lots of them come from the Daylesford Organic Farm which is about as close to low mileage eating as you can get without growing it yourself).
How they’ll keep you busy
The Daylesford flagship store and Bamford Spa is a 20-minute walk away along a clearly marked, rural route, and guests enjoy a 10% discount on lots of loveliness, including cooking and floristry classes, treatments and exercises classes.
What else to do while you’re there
The honey-hued town of Stow-on-the-Wold is a short drive away, as is neo-Mughal Sezincote House.
Alternatively, strike out on foot in your best walking boots, straight from The Fox. The staff can point you in the right direction.
Who is it for?
Weekend-ing couples, anyone looking to break up a journey down to Devon and Cornwall, or across to Wales, or small groups of friends who want to use the Bamford Spa.
What gives it the ‘wow’ factor
The bedrooms — they’re calming havens that feel very luxurious without any of the unnecessary shimmer and shine.
The one thing we’d change
In the summer, when the walled garden is in full swing, some guests staying in rooms overlooking the melee might get a bit annoyed about the noise (especially if you like to sleep with the windows, or doors open).
The best solution? Go and join in!
Rooms at The Fox at Oddington start from £225 a night. Call 01451 767000 or visit www.thefoxatoddington.com for more information and to book