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Hotel The Old Swan and Minister Mill Hotel 4 star
Easyexperts
Minster Lovell - OX29 0RN OXFORD Oxford, United Kingdom -
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Amy Adejokun Section editor

Sitting on the banks of the River Windrush, the picturesque 16th century Old Swan and 18th century Minister Mill is a two-part inn with a wide range of accommodations from isolated rooms away from the main cluster of activity to rooms by the river, newer contemporary style rooms and more traditional country inn style rooms complete with beamed ceilings, fireplaces and four poster beds. The Old Swan and its burning log fires sits on one side of the road and acts as the main hotel building and is also where the restaurant and bar are located, while the less polished Minister Mill sits on the other side of the road. A good choice for a romantic weekend away if staying in a historic room at the Old Swan, but generally a little on the pricy side for what's on offer.

A picturesque place to stay with wide-ranging accommodation options and one of the best gastro-pubs in the region.

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  • Well located
  • Rest
  • Gastronomy
  • Charm
  • Nature
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    Location

    A half-hour drive from the city of Oxford, the Old Swan and Minister Mill is located within the Cotswolds triangle (marked by Birmingham, Cheltenham and Oxford) in the village of Minister just outside the village of Witney. It is also under an hour's drive from Bicester village.

    Accommodation 6.70 /10

    The rooms vary widely between the Old Swan and the Minister Mill but all have complimentary Wi-Fi, a telephone and a flat-screen television.

    Although all the rooms have their draws, we recommend choosing a Victorian style room in the Old Swan building. A very narrow and steep staircase leads from the seating areas on the ground floor to an irregular creaky corridor lined with rooms upstairs on the first floor. Our favourite room, probably because it seemed like the most time-marked, is the first room on the right from the staircase. With a beautiful attic style beamed ceiling, a grand four-poster bed, a fireplace and a bathroom with a quaint window looking out onto the original roof tiling and the idyllic gardens, its décor might be a little old fashioned, but the atmosphere makes it worthwhile.

    While the Minister Mill is set inside a restored 18th century mill, the rooms are located in the newly renovated 1970s adjoining outhouse and don't have the same charm as those over the road. The rooms here are on the small side with a décor some might judge to be fairly generic of modern business hotels, however, the advantage is that they come at a cheaper rate and in various settings including by the river, up the hill away from the main hubbub as well as in the modern outbuilding.

    Overview 7.70 /10

    Set against a backdrop that exudes old country romance in 60 acres of meadows with old weeping willows bending over the rushing river, the artfully crumbling Old Swa is a traditional inn with original roof tiles and Cotswold stone exteriors. Inside, with its clusters of cosy tartan sofas and armchairs set aglow by the inn's burning log fires, it's the perfect winter setting for curling up with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate (or something stronger). The restaurant and pub adjoin the living areas, which is where all guests meet for meals.

    The hotel reception is in the 18th century Minister Mill building, which has its own sitting rooms with log fires. Although the Minister Mill's main building is historic, its rooms are located in a newer wing added in the 70s; the Old Swan is therefore on the whole more atmospheric.

    In the summer, a croquet lawn set up close to the gazebo on the opposite of the river. There is also a pocket-sized gym and tennis court. Guests can also book to go horse riding or go shopping in Bicester village, which is under an hour away by car.

    Food and drink 7.70 /10

    The traditional country inn style restaurant complete with a working log fireplace, adjoins the pub just off the main living area of the Old Swan. One of the best gastro-pubs in the region, it comes very highly recommended for its home-cooked hearty fare, even for non-guests. A word of warning: the restaurant gets extremely busy especially in the evenings, so guests and non-guests alike should book a table in advance.

    In the warmer months, it is possible to enjoy a drink and light bites on the white iron tables and chairs set out along the river. This is the only place we have come across in the Cotswolds where you can enjoy a drink in such an idyllic riverside setting.

    Spa

    The hotel doesn't have a spa as such, but there are a couple of massage rooms. All bookings must be made with as much advance notice as possible (at least 48 hours ahead).

    To know

    As the accommodations vary quite widely, it is worth taking your time to look at the different room options before booking. For a Victorian country inn ambiance, choose one of the 16 historic rooms upstairs from the restaurant in the main Old Swan building, and for something more contemporary (and also less spacious), choose one of the 44 newer rooms at the Minister Mill, formerly a conference and venue centre for previous owner, de Vere Hotels.

    Equipment

    • Car park
    • Handicap access
    • Restaurant
    • Internet access
    • Air conditioning
    • Spa

      massage, beauty salon, sauna, keep fit, spa, wellness

    • Swimming pool
    • Sports equipment

      tennis, gym, fitness

    • Animals allowed
    • Safe
    • Non-smoking rooms
    • Solarium
    • Meeting room

    advantage

    • Wide choice of accommodation
    • The excellent country inn fare served at the restaurant - easily one of the best in the region
    • The idyllic riverside setting

    disadvantages

    • Can be fairly noisy during meal times when both buildings are running on full capacity
    • Whether staying at the Old Swan or the Minister Mill, the prices are a little hard to justify

    Traveller Reviews

    • Overall Score nc/10