We had booked the Swan Cottage at the Old Swan & Minster Mill hotel for a few days between Christmas and New Year. Heidi (my Norfolk Terrier sister) and I were very excited as we had been given a lovely Wag N’ Go Travel Bag for Christmas and our owner Denise was busy packing our favourite food and our personalised blankets.
We set off early afternoon – roaring along the M4 and the M40 – and in no time at all we were at the Old Swan & Minster Mill, a 600 year old inn in the beautiful village of Minster Lovell, set on the River Windrush in Oxfordshire. This time we were joined by our new cousin – Lulu a five month old rescue dog – owned by our owner Denise’s daughter Camilla.
On arrival we were welcomed like old friends and the receptionist came and stroked us whilst Camilla booked in for a facial and massage in the spa. We were then shown to the Swan Cottage which is next door to the hotel. Denise and Rory got very excited and said it was their perfect weekend cottage. It certainly looked very cosy and luxurious.
Best of all there was a gorgeous Christmas tree in the sitting room plus another one in the garden with lots of fairy lights. Heidi and I immediately ran upstairs for a sniff around. It looked gorgeous and downstairs, we dogs had our own special area with pet beds, blankets, bowls, treats and food.
After a delicious meal – prepared especially for us by the hotel’s chef – we raced outside to explore the walled garden which was really lovely and much bigger than the postage stamp garden we put up with at home in Fulham.
It was time for dinner and to our surprise we were invited along too! All meals are taken in the hotel next door but part of the restaurant is pet-friendly – luxe yet laidback. There were lovely beams and a roaring fire and it seemed that nearly everyone had a dog with them – there was a black Labrador, a Vizsla, a Labradoodle and a Jack Russell Terrier. Our owners started to chat to a couple on the next table who said they felt that there was something missing as they wished they had a dog with them. Anyway they were happy to give us a pat and a cuddle. Rory, Denise and Camilla had a delicious meal which included crab and crayfish cocktail, risotto, 28 day aged local beef followed by treacle tart. After another run round the garden we all retired to our beds.
The next morning after a run round the field across the road we were invited to breakfast – it’s a delicious buffet breakfast next to the fire. After we set off for a walk to Swinbrook. The hotel very helpfully give you a list of walks and this one was six and a half miles to the village of Swinbrook with the promise of lunch at The Swan Inn – famously owned by the Duchess of Devonshire whose old family home is in the village. The walk was lovely, over stiles and across fields and we were quite exhausted by the time we reached Swinbrook. Again the pub was full of black Labradors so we felt very much at home and were given lots of treats to reward us for our efforts.
The next day we went on another lovely walk to Crawley and had lunch at The Lamb Inn. We were very sad to leave but on our way back we visited another pet-friendly pub – The Wild Rabbit at Kingham and popped into the flagship Daylesford Organics as well as Bicester Village too.
We would definitely give The Old Swan & Minster Mill ten out of ten for a tail-waggingly good welcome. We will be back!