Hayley Ruth Photography

Monday, 14 February 2011

The ultimate country house party!

I feel like Ruth Watson from the Hotel Inspector. I can be 100% sure that she wouldn't have anything negative to say about The Old Swan & Minster Mill on the River Windrush in the Cotswolds.

I was invited to visit this stunning venue by Amber de Savary who's family are renowned for creating some of the most unique and unforgettable hotel and club experiences around the world including Skibo Castle, Bovey Castle and St James Club internationally.  They took over this venue in May last year and have wasted no time in transforming the reception rooms and all 60 bedrooms.

When we arrived I was met by Amber who checked us in and showed us to our room.  Decorated with stylish fabrics, gorgeous armchairs and tweed cushions, it had all the little touches that make the difference like The White Company products in the bathroom, Blenheim Palace bottles of water and the most gorgeous little glass decanter of Sloe Gin were just a few. Not forgetting a box of eggs from their free range chickens!

Amber then showed me around the beautiful traditional reception rooms which you can hire for special events, ceremonies, parties and wedding receptions. For the ultimate in exclusivity, guests can take sole use of the entire place with only your friends and family around you.  The ultimate country house party!

New for 2011 will be a magnificent Great Hall seating up to 120 guests overlooking the river and leading directly onto the terrace and elegant gardens. Amber showed me the artists impressions of the new building which will be brimming with modern technology, with electricity and heat being generated by the River Windrush providing an almost carbon neutral environment. A raised stone base will extend to incorporate a glass dance floor through which you can view the operating waterwheel beneath.

View from the bridge

View from the rose garden

Interior of the Great Hall
After our tour, Amber suggested Jonathan and I have a cream tea in the snug by the roaring fire. Generous scones with clotted cream and jam in little cups with fresh berries. Delicious!

After a visit to nearby Burford we had a chance to relax before dinner.

Now for my Michael Winner! It was very difficult to make a choice from the extensive menu, but we were drawn to the specials board.  We both had risotto to start. I had Pumpkin and Jonathan had Wild Mushroom, it was one of the nicest risotto's I've had.  I ordered the very last portion of Venison with a Juniper berry sauce and Jonathan had chargrilled spicy Cajun Chicken. We finished a fabulous bottle of Rioja before deliberating over the dessert menu. Bread & Butter pudding with Apricots and a vanilla custard for me and Jonathan had a Banana & Maple cake with Rum & Raisin ice-cream. It was such a delicious meal.

After a relaxing night and a lovely breakfast we reluctantly checked out. I could have stayed a fortnight! Before I left I had the opportunity to meet Emma Rogers the Wedding & Events Manager who has joined the team from Blenheim Palace.

The attention to detail made our stay very special and I can't recommend it highly enough. Perhaps you live in London and want an exclusive country house party for your wedding? Wherever you live in the country, it really is worth the trip.

Do contact Emma on t 01993 862509 e erogers@oldswanandminstermill.com
Old Minster, Minster Lovell, Witney, Oxfordshire  OX29 0RN

I will keep you up to date with the developments of the Great Hall and do let me know if you decide to pay them a visit.