The Brits do countryside-chic like no other but, for a heavenly version of rural living, The Cotswolds is the place to go. Butterscotch and honey-hued cottages, with front doors painted the perfect shade of putty, make up the idyllic villages. Lupins, scented stock and lavender nod in immaculate gardens. At its heart is the tiny village of Kingham, which, while it is very pretty, has also become an unlikely centre for culinary excellence.
First there was The Kingham Plough, an award-winning dining pub with rooms, then two years ago came The Wild Rabbit, which further raised the gastronomic offering along the same street. The latter is now back in the spotlight with the arrival of chef Tim Allen (previously chef-patron at the Michelin-stared Launceston Place in Kensington), and while it doesn’t have its own Michelin star yet, you get the feeling that it won’t be long in coming.
At a reputed cost of £1.4m, it was carved out of an original 18th century inn and is owned by Lady Carole Bamford, who also presides over the nearby Daylesford (renowned for its impressive farm shop, eaterie, and the Bamford Haybarn Spa).
The cosy dining room is the centrepiece and features a buzzy, open kitchen and charcuturie with hanging hams. Bare wooden tables, odd painted chairs and dressers with stoneware jars give a rough-hewn (albeit perfectly executed) feel. But this is no gastro pub. A focus on seasonality, artisan products and fresh ingredients is key to the sublime food on offer, while the slick service could have you thinking you were back in a W1 postcode. Each dish is deceptively simple in it its description but when your plate comes you’ll be wowed by the beautiful presentation. Lamb with asparagus, white polenta and parmesan was a stand-out dish – complex and multi-layered. Sides come in cute copper pans, bread is freshly baked and still warm, salads are exquisitely dressed and desserts are seriously sophisticated (the Passion Fruit Soufflé is a highlight). Attention to detail is second to none.
While the restaurant is the star of the show, the good taste continues across the 12 bedrooms. Billed as a ‘restaurant with rooms’, The Wild Rabbit is so much more. This is the sort of place you can truly relax in – the ideal weekend retreat in idyllic surroundings. Each room has a twist on a rustic chic sensibility. Deep beds dressed with crisp white linen, exposed Cotswold stone brick walls and cowhide chairs elevate rustic to luxe. Bathrooms are large with Bamford products on tap for serious pampering sessions. A woodland theme ties it all together – so you are greeted with topiary rabbits outside the main door, oversized lanterns light the garden areas, bunny motifs adorn the crockery. This is the British countryside at its best.
A small double room for two people B&B costs from £150 per night. The Wild Rabbit, Church Street, Kingham, Oxfordshire OX7 6YA (+44 (0)1608 658 389; thewildrabbit.co.uk). Treatments at Bamford Haybarn Spa start from £35 for an express pedicure. Bamford Haybarn Spa, Daylesford, near Kingham, Gloucestershire, GL56 0YG (+44 (0)1608 731 713; bamford.co.uk)
This article also appeared on High Life online