Oh we properly loved The Wheatsheaf Inn in Gloucestershire. (In fact, I loved it so much that I included it in the introductory essay on dog-friendly pubs that I was commissioned to write for the just-published The Good Pub Guide 2017. You can read my essay here.)
We visited on a lovely summer day as part of a long weekend road trip through the Cotswolds, when I was lent an Aston Martin Vanquish Volante and realised that the only thing to do was pack the car with a picnic, my sister, the two sausages and head for somewhere that was fun to drive, and had lovely places to stay.
Because I grew up just north of the area, in a tiny village north of Banbury, I’ve never considered the Cotswolds to be a standalone holiday destination: for me it’s the pretty countryside I drive through en route to Cheltenham to see my godmother, or the pubs we head to at the weekends for lunch.
So this was the perfect opportunity to do some exploring and actually stay in the area, resisting the siren call of my mother’s cooking. Because I’m really bad at organising anything in advance, I hopped onto Mr & Mrs Smith the day before we left to see if anything was available and joyfully I snaffled a very last-minute cancellation at The Wheatsheaf in Northleach.
A honey-coloured seventeenth century coaching inn clad in wisteria and vines, The Wheatsheaf is a beautiful old market town pub with fourteen beautiful bedrooms, some (above) overlooking the ravishing tiered cottage gardens designed by Max Asknew. A few of the rooms are dog-friendly – you need to check when booking and, happily for us, because my sister has MS, one of these was also one of the two ground floor rooms, 10 and 11, which open up into the courtyard.
They aren’t wheelchair accessible but Holly is ambulatory, and there are only a couple of steps to manage. The rooms are spacious with few trip hazards, walk-in showers as well as baths, and lots of things to cling onto if you are feeling wobbly. Our room was also handy for letting the hunds out for their nighttime and early morning constitutionals, without disturbing any other guests.
Lettice highly approved of the gardens, although the steps were a challenge – her legs are only inches high.
This was room 11, the afore-mentioned ground floor AND dog-friendly room.
The hotel had left thoughtful dog supplies for us.
Mmmm. The absolute bliss of the en suite bathroom, with its claw footed bath, properly sized robes and lovely local, entirely natural, organic and gorgeous smelling 100 Acres products, made nearby in the beautiful Cotswolds countryside.
It was July, and warm, so we ate supper in the lovely garden.
We weren’t hugely hungry so ordered delicious bits to share: an excellent twice baked cheese soufflé with mustard sauce, 1/2 a pint of prawns, Cornish crab on toast, buttered spring greens with pearl onions, French fries & French beans. And a glass of Tempranillo for me. Can you spot the tiny dog nose?
Next morning, we awoke late. Some of us needed to be extracted from bed…
Because the weather had been so lovely, we hadn’t penetrated into the actual main building until breakfast time the next day, but I can see that this is exactly the kind of place where I would like to hole up on a rainy afternoon.
And then we wandered into breakfast in the dining room.
It is an excellent breakfast. One that many hotels would do well to emulate. (Yes, Hotel du Vins, I’m looking at you *hard stare*.)
I do like the casual avocados, the brimming pot of yogurt, and the majestic cheeseboard (as opposed to the curling slices of cheese, so prevalent in hotels).
I also have quite a lot of love for the hangover jar.
I attacked an avocado, ordered perfect poached eggs and read Observer Food Monthly. My idea of a heavenly Sunday mornimg.
Then it was time to pack our bags and head off to Soho Farmhouse for the second leg of our road trip.
Sasha booked and paid full price under a different name for their stay in the dog-friendly room 11, with bed and breakfast through the Mr & Mrs Smith website. In total she paid £278.85 for dinner, bed & breakfast for two people (& two dogs). She was thrilled that booking through Mr & Mrs Smith meant she was given a Smith Extra: a bottle of 100 Acres body wash.
The Wheatsheaf Inn West End, Northleach, Gloucestershire GL54 3EZ