Early morning in the sleepy Cotswolds village of Charlbury is the stuff of Hollywood cliches. The only noises are birds chirping and the distant peal of church bells as a man cycles down the narrow high street singing quietly to himself.
Nestled in the Evenlode Valley just seven miles from stately Blenheim Palace, Charlbury has all the rolling hills and honey-stoned cottages the Cotswolds are famous for, but without the tourists.
The Bull Inn, an elegant 16th Century stone coaching inn covered in thick ivy, sits on Sheep Street in the heart of the village.
Chic makeover: The Bull Inn, a former 16th Century coaching inn, which has been given a ‘cool makeover’
LEFT: Room Five at the Bull Inn, which is located in the barn and is the most glamorous, boasting bold, hand-printed wallpaper and an enormous bathroom. RIGHT: The small bar feels like a snug country cottage with kilim rugs, wooden chests for tables, jugs of flowers and soothing Farrow and Ball shades, writes Siobhan
The food is ‘simple but sublime’, says Siobhan. Pictured is the stylish dining room
Inside one of the bathrooms at The Bull Inn, which Siobhan says has a ‘boho style’
It was bought in 2015 by Willow Crossley (the florist whose designs featured at Prince Harry’s wedding) and her husband Charlie and given a cool makeover perfectly attuned to its exposed stone walls, low wooden beams and central inglenook fireplace.
The small bar feels like a snug country cottage with kilim rugs, wooden chests for tables, jugs of flowers, soothing Farrow and Ball shades, and sofas piled high with cushions.
Expect retro lampshades, books and newspapers for reading by the real fire, and a battered vintage dresser used as a bar and manned by young, trendy staff.
Its laidback feel means that children, families and dogs actually feel welcome here.
The boho style continues in the individually designed bedrooms.
There are four above the bar in the main building and another four can be found in a barn across the pretty courtyard.
Room Five in the barn is the most glamorous, boasting bold, hand-printed wallpaper and an enormous bathroom with claw-foot bath, walk-in shower and oversized paintings.
Locals flock to The Bull for the food, though.
The menu is short but excellent, focusing on seasonal local ingredients, including a blackberry and apple salad starter, roasted pork belly and butternut squash gnocchi alongside gastropub favourites such as fish and chips and sticky toffee pudding.
The Bull Inn was bought in 2015 by Willow Crossley, the florist whose designs featured at Prince Harry’s wedding, and her husband Charlie
On the waitress’s recommendation, I choose the Japanese-style sirloin marinated in coriander, fresh chilli and ginger and devised by owner Charlie (who was celebrating his birthday on the next table).
It’s a huge portion that’s meant to be shared but is too delicious to waste even a scrap.
Next morning, breakfast is just as moreish, with a buffet of granola, yogurt, freshly squeezed juice and plump croissants while hot dishes are cooked to order.
The stately Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, which is just seven miles from The Bull Inn
The Bull Inn is nestled in Charlbury in the Evenlode Valley, pictured. Charlbury has all the rolling hills and honey-stoned cottages the Cotswolds are famous for, but without the tourists, says Siobhan
It’s an indulgent start to a day walking in the Cotswolds’ meadows and ancient forests.
USP: A stylish gem away from the tourist trail.
The food: Simple but sublime, with a focus on top-notch ingredients. Visit on Sunday evenings to try stone-baked pizzas from the courtyard oven.
The rooms: Rustic glamour with bathrooms to die for.
The Bull Inn, West Oxfordshire. B&B from £89 a night, Sunday to Thursday, £160 on Friday and Saturday (bullinn-charlbury.com).