The Cotswolds’ sweet spot: Inside Wild Thyme & Honey, an inn with swish bedrooms, complimentary gin and a pub that serves ‘the best Yorkshire puddings ever’
A trio of Ampneys grew up here on the fringes of the Cotswolds – three honey-coloured villages named after the babbling brook which runs past this pub with rooms.
And Wild Thyme & Honey, in Ampney Crucis, makes full use of the setting.
There may be a busy road on one side, but on the other, transparent eating pods overlook the water, as do many of the 24 bedrooms.
They all have bags of contemporary Cotswolds cool, with plenty of exposed stone, rustic wood furniture and woollen throws.
Beds feature oversized felt headboards and there are concrete hanging lights reminiscent of cow bells.
Buzzing: Jane Knight stays at Wild Thyme & Honey (pictured) in the Cotswold village of Ampney Crucis
The piece de resistance in the 12 suites is an in-room bath, and alongside the Bramley products you get a murder mystery novel set in the local area and a complimentary decanter of sloe gin to sip while you soak.
For a more sober drink, fresh milk is supplied along with tea bags and more toiletries in the pantry.
Downstairs is the honeymoon suite, an even swisher affair with a four-poster made from tree trunks and its own sauna, as well as a hot tub by the water’s edge.
Guests can dine in the hotel’s transparent eating pods
Describing the 24 rooms at the hotel, Jane says: ‘They all have bags of contemporary Cotswolds cool’
Suite guests enjoy a complimentary decanter of sloe gin
Talk about a pub with panache. There’s also a courtyard where residents can chill out and channel a ski-chalet vibe with a drink by the open fireplace on chairs draped with sheepskin rugs.
Or go the other side of the courtyard into the 16th Century pub proper – The Crown – brought bang up to date following a makeover.
This is not a place for small rooms with nooks and crannies, but the large spaces filled with wood, stone and an open kitchen are welcoming, where accessories include an old settle, a church pew and the odd stuffed animal.
If the pub is a pleasant surprise, the food is even better. In the upstairs area we rhapsodise about the sourdough served with truffle butter. Tastebuds suitably tantalised, we move on to delicious starters of crab cake and lobster arancini followed by a roast dinner with the best Yorkshire puds ever and filo pastry filled with fresh vegetables. Choosing between the puddings is impossible so we opt for the local cheeses.
There’s reasonably priced wine on offer as well as a wine-dispensing machine downstairs. One duff note is the fake wisteria wall (there are fake plants in the bedrooms, too).
There’s a courtyard where residents can chill out and channel a ski-chalet vibe with a drink by the open fireplace on chairs draped with sheepskin rugs
Jane enjoys a roast dinner with the ‘best Yorkshire puds ever’ during her stay
One of the inn’s delicious desserts
Breakfast is equally mouthwatering – a full English that sets you up for an amble round the Ampneys.
Pick up boots and umbrellas by the door, then set off on a two-hour ramble through Ampney Crucis and the hamlets of Ampney St Peter and Ampney St Mary.
The highlight lies across the brook at the Church of Ampney St Mary. Standing alone in a field (the village moved to higher ground following the Black Death), this tiny Norman church has fragments of medieval wall paintings. One shows St George slaying the dragon and another of St Christopher carrying the Christ child.
Just like Wild Thyme & Honey, it’s something not to be missed.