“ Address: Letcombe Regis / Wantage / Oxfordshire / OX12 9JD / England „
My husband and I have had a difficult couple of months, with an international move in September and his constant travelling for work - leaving me in a new town with a very demanding three year old. So I was very pleased to hear that he had booked a hotel for a lovely surprise weekend break for the two of us; all I was told was to pack my swimming costume! We have stayed in some absolutely awful hotels in the past, some of which were rated 5 star, so I wasn't expecting wonders, I was just pleased to be spending some time with him!
The three year old was packed off to grandma and after a lovely day touring Oxford we ended up in the dark country lanes around Wantage in Oxfordshire, in a little village called Letcombe Regis. We did get a little lost as the GPS co-ordinates were to the front door, but there was a dimly lit drive which came off onto another road and a small sign which we had missed. After going down the bumpy drive and through a set of gates we parked the car and were immediately welcomed by one of the owners and one of the dogs who made us feel instantly at home. Upon entering the house we were informed that we had been upgraded as there were no other guests (and the owners were feeling romantic!) so we had a suite instead of the double room my husband had booked. Brook Barn has three guest rooms; The Brook has twin beds or a large double, The Stable has a Queen size bed (both of these rooms have a private terrace) and The Hayloft Suite is larger with a King Size bed.
Brook Barn is a converted barn and is exquisitely decorated with all of the original features retained - it looks like something that should feature on one of those TV design programmes, beautifully laid out with wooden beams everywhere. We were taken up a short flight of stairs and down a corridor to our suite which lay behind a quaint wooden door with a lovely black metal latch. The suite took my breath away and I ran around like a small child for five minutes or so admiring all the super little touches that made it feel like I had been deposited into the lap of luxury! The main sitting area had two large, soft and extremely comfortable sofas, a table set for two, a small woodburning stove, coffee table with magazines and plenty of candles. The wall mounted TV has Sky attached and a DVD/CD player too. The bathroom was small but well appointed with a large fixed shower head, WC and sink with luxury handwash, showergel, shampoo, body lotion and little ribbon wrapped sets with cotton buds, loofahs, sewing kits etc. Everything was extremely clean and well presented and once I had examined the tea and coffee making facilities (with jars of teabags with beautifully handmade labels, fruit basket, plenty of biscuits, kettle, cups etc) I wandered off to explore the rest of the suite.
Down two steps was a small corridor/ dressing area with a desk, deep wardrobes (with towels and flipflops for the hot tub and a selection of videos), Nicky Clark hairdryer etc. The bedroom was cunningly fitted into an awkward space and the bed was under the sloping roof and looked exceedingly comfortable with its Egyptian cotton sheets. A dressing gown, hand towel and huge fluffy white bathsheet each were beautifully folded at the end of the bed. Two glass bottles of mineral water (still and sparkling) were on each bedside table and there was a small TV/Video combi next to the luxurious looking dressing table and mirror.
When we arrived our hosts had asked when we would like dinner and I discovered that my husband had ordered a three course meal with champagne to be served in our room (we could also have had it in the dining room or on the terrace). Brook Barn offer a variety of meal options from 'nursery food', picnics and two or three course dinners, all at very reasonable prices. I had filled potato skins with sour cream to start and my husband had small tartlets filled with cheese, leek and ham (around £5 each). We had the most expensive main meal on the menu (£16 each) which was pheasant in a rich jus, seasonal vegetables, bread sauce and roast potatoes. Everything was beautifully presented and tasted superb, I even swapped one of my roast potatoes for some of my husband's brussel sprouts as they were amazing (and I usually hate sprouts). Each course was brought separately by the hosts who checked that we had everything we needed and kept us topped up with champagne (not minding that we had brought a second bottle of our own with us). The dessert menu looked fantastic and we both went for the Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall brownies with cream or icecream (about £5 each). We were informed that they get their icecream and eggs from the farm next door and reading their leaflet it is clear that the owners put a great deal of effort into sourcing the 'best, seasonal ingredients' and making the most of them. I left the table exceedingly full and very happy (and a little drunk), whilst the hosts cleared the table and brought us a small basket of Quality Street! When the lights went off, the nightlights came on automatically, providing a lovely intimate twilight and help to get to the bathroom at night, but a delicious little touch that was much appreciated.
Next morning we went down to breakfast at the dining table (you can also have it in your room or a champagne breakfast!) to be greeted with an astonishing array of breakfast food! Four different cereals in glass jars with handmade labels, a meat board, a cheese board, yoghurts, jam, sliced melon, hot croissants and delicious toast. My husband went for the Full English breakfast (with eggs from the next door farm) and waxed lyrical about the eggs which were a startling shade of orange and cooked to perfection. On the table was a little leaflet explaining the provenance of the 'happy' eggs and giving a list of breakfast options. When I turned it over I was astonished to see the weather report for that day, printed on the back. It is little touches like this that really make you feel like valued and welcome guests, like the owners really want you to have a good time.
We left very happy, relaxed and determined to go back for a longer stay next time! As we left we saw the beautifully landscaped grounds, chalk stream running through the garden and the hot tub which is available for guests to use (we never got around to it!). Neither did we get to use the WiFi which is available throughout the house, the Office (with scanner and photocopier), the library (daily newspapers, novels, DVDs and CDs) or the lounge with the large fireplace.
It is no surprise to me that this place is AA highly commended (five yellow stars which indicates the establishment is in the top 10% of 5 star accommodation) with the eggcup and pie symbols (indicating a very special breakfast and dinner). Visit Britain have also given them 5 stars and a silver award. Dogs are welcome and they also offer special wedding services!
So the price- the room we were supposed to have is £85 (Friday and Saturday double occupancy, low season) but the Hayloft Suite is only £105 a night on the same terms. Prices are as low as £55 and go up to £125 a night. We paid £170 for one night, a bottle of nice champagne and a three course meal and breakfast, which is half the price of a bed and breakfast 4/5 star in other places. They are open all year round, 7 days a week and according to my husband they have only been open since September, I don't think a place like this will stay empty for long judging from the pages of accolades in the guest book already!
I really cannot recommend Brook Barn enough, it is clean, warm, welcoming and superbly well fitted and furnished. The food was simple but beautifully cooked and the owners seem to make it their personal aim to ensure everyone has the best possible stay, friendly but discreet. The perfect place to go for a romantic getaway. Amazing.
OX 12 9JD
(also posted to a holiday review site)
The house, located 30 minutes outside of Oxford, is set in over an acre of enchanting gardens. The Barn is equipped to the highest standards and is a perfect retreat for business travellers or holiday-makers alike.