The Nevill Arms review: A golden stone country hotel in the oft-forgotten spot dubbed ‘the hidden Cotswolds’

The Nevill Arms in Medbourne is a wonderful pitstop at any time of year, but ideal for anyone heading for the Nevill Holt Festival. Tim Relf paid a visit.

Everyone’s heard of The Cotswolds, even if they don’t know exactly which area it covers. With relatives in the Gloucestershire village of Painswick, I’ve always been immensely fond of the region – so when I first heard a place on the southern tip of Leicestershire described as ‘the hidden Cotswolds’ I figured it had a lot to live up to.

The Welland Valley with its rolling green pastures and distinctive local stone is just that, however. It’s like the so-called ‘flyover states’ in the US – the places people pass over in planes between the supposedly more fashionable East and West coasts. Driving along the A1 or M1, you wouldn’t know you’d passed The Welland Valley.

The Nevill Arms pub and country hotel, standing beside a brook in the village of Medbourne between Market Harborough and Uppingham, is at the heart of this beautiful, unspoilt area. Expect lush grazing land, small fields and wide hedges, along with characterful villages and historic buildings.

Perhaps the issue with this area is that it’s never quite known how to brand itself. After all, neither ‘The Welland Valley’, nor the charming wider rural area known as ‘High Leicestershire’, occupies the same position in people’s imagination and affection as the Cotswolds. But it should. And if you’d like to explore it, The Nevill Arms is a stunning venue from which to do so.


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The hotel

The venue is owned by a small, local hospitality group called The Three Goats – which is so confident that, situated little more than an hour on the train from St Pancras, this represents the perfect getaway spot that having purchased it in 2021 they’ve invested over £1m in a complete renovation. This included the refurbishment of the 10 bedrooms, restaurant, bar and garden and has created a place that exudes style and luxury.

It’s perhaps no surprise to learn that local interior designer Carrie Cripps took inspiration partly from Beaverbrook Town House in Chelsea. Or that the General Manager, Max Woolnough, previously worked at The Delphi Club in The Bahamas. Or indeed that the Group’s Executive Chef, Chris Bolan, came from the Michelin-starred Trinity restaurant in London.

A Four Poster room at the Nevill Arms. Credit: Holmes PR Photography

While those 21st century influences can be seen in the interiors, the buildings themselves are all authentic charm.  The Nevill Arms, like so many buildings in The Welland Valley (including Nevill Holt Hall, as you’ll see below) are built of the local stone – which is a warm-honey colour and (whisper it quietly) strikes me as even more attractive than the one evident across the Cotswolds. And all without a tour bus in sight.

Food and drink

The influence of Chris Bolan and his head chef, Will Webb, is immediately evident in the restaurant. My meal started with the Fosse Meadow chicken liver and orange parfait, quince jelly, pickled walnut, red onion marmalade, and toasted Hambleton bread. It was followed by the slow-braised belly and rump duo of lamb with goats’ curd, minted pea puree, charred Roscoff onion, pomme puree, and braised red cabbage. Dessert was a honey vanilla parfait, with poached rhubarb and white chocolate crumb.

On sunny afternoons and evenings, however, the courtyard is the place to eat. With its Josper bar and grill and beautiful ancient olive trees, it feels like a slice of the Mediterranean brought to this spot which is also within easy reach of Oakham, Oundle and Stamford.

‘Local’ is clearly one of the core values when it comes to sourcing ingredients, with much of the meat coming from the Three Goats’ own farm in the nearby village of Great Easton. Its home to a herd of grass-fed Belted Galloway cattle, along with Suffolk-cross and Cheviot sheep, and Oxford and Sandy Black pigs.

Rooms at the Nevill Arms cost from £150 a night, including breakfast. Main courses in the restaurant £21-28. Find out more at


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What to do while you’re there

Nevill Holt Festival

Just a mile or two up the hill from ‘The Nev’ is Nevill Holt Hall which Country Life recently said was ‘entering its prime after 700 years of ups and downs’.

Once home to the Cunard family, the Hall is now owned by David Ross, the entrepreneur and philanthropist best known for co-founding Carphone Warehouse. He has spent more than a decade on its restoration and June 2024 sees the inaugural Nevill Holt Festival. Building on a series of opera performances at the Hall, it promises to be a fantastic multi-arts event.

The Festival runs June 1 to June 26, 2024 against the backdrop of one of Leicestershire’s finest country houses. As well as opera, there’ll be classical music, theatre, art, jazz and contemporary music, alongside conversations with novelists, historians, broadcasters and artists.

Nevill Holt Hall

Rockingham Castle

Built on the instruction of William the Conqueror and for centuries owned by the Crown, it’s now been home to the Saunders Watson family for 450 years. One feature of the stunning gardens is the famous ‘elephant’ yew hedge.

Lyddington Bede House

Owned by English Heritage and once the wing of a palace belonging to the Bishops of Lincoln, this was converted into an almshouse for bedesmen – ‘free of lunacy, leprosy or the French pox’.