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“Idyllic and tranquil”

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Old Swan & Minster Mill
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Minster Lovell
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersBronze level
Reviewed 13 July 2014

We stayed as part of a Secret Escapes deal which included two nights stay, bed and breakfast, spa treatment, hire of bikes and a fishing experience. We booked as an anniversary break.

We were allocated a Cosy room to begin with, which is exactly as described on the website. Cosy and compact but had everything you needed and was plenty comfortable for us. However, in the morning we were awoken by the room below us getting ready to depart. The airconditioning could be heard in our room and their alarm! I don't think the soundproofing was ideal.

We mentioned this at reception and we were transferred to a traditional room in the older part of the hotel, which was more spacious and luxurious. Very kind of the staff to do this.

The food, the drink and the company was wonderful. The staff were very attentive, friendly and approachable. We had a lovely time staying here.

It was a great base to explore the area and take time to relax in the beautifully maintained grounds. There was time for a game of croquet, boules and my husband took advantage of the fishing experience (though he didnt have a clue what he was doing).

Room Tip: If you want total relaxation, maybe avoid the Cosy rooms
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  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Sazzlebelle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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1,101 - 1,107 of 1,895 reviews

Reviewed 13 July 2014

Great place, full of character. Really enjoyed our stay and the tour of the site when we first arrived was a really nice touch. My only comment would be to consider expanding the dinner menu a little, as we felt the choice was somewhat limited.

All in all, spot on...............

  • Stayed: June 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank MReds1951
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 July 2014

Had a lovely couple of days there with my wife and 8 month old daughter. The staff couldn't be more friendly and accommodating. The buildings and grounds are fantastic. High level of attention to detail. The breakfast was most enjoyable with a great choice, cooked, cereals, pastries and fruit. Very relaxing time. Thank you

  • Stayed: July 2014
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1  Thank Doyle7710
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 July 2014

A very wonderful place. The surroundings was very beatiful. The room was A littel bit small, but very nice and clean. The service was very good. One of the most nicest places we have ever been. We will come back :-) Ingunn og Trond

  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
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    • Cleanliness
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel
1  Thank Ingunn A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 July 2014

Just a wonderful place. The food was exceptional and the scenery fantastic. A very traditional English place.
Would definitely come again soon. Lovely walks around the grounds and the local area.
The river is stunning and lots of local wildlife.
I did not use the spa but it looked very nice.
Played croquet on the lawn in lovely weather.

  • Stayed: July 2014
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2  Thank JStreatfield
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 July 2014

Our game of boules was interrupted by a pitch invasion by a very self satisfied, plump hen, who strutted the length of the pitch towards us, decided we were of no particular interest and wandered off again. The gloriously overweight and indulgently slothful tabby cat draped on the picnic table next to us was far too engrossed in attracting tummy tickles to take any notice of any of the ducks and chickens pottering around the gardens. None of the assembled wildlife was the least bit phased by the croquet and the ducks waddled boldly among the diners enjoying the Old Swan's delicious menu as the the last rays of sun hit the beautiful old stone of the patio.
The rooms are cosy with low, wooden beams and there are nice touches awaiting the weary traveller - a tipple, a biccie. I was there with work for a team meeting, and it was still an absolute joy to be there! The staff went to a lot of effort to be accommodating and provided limitless supplies of home made cookies.
The village is as olde worlde as you could hope for and the villagers are incredibly friendly. There are some beautiful ruins down the road past the very cute church, a short walk from the hotel. Well worth visiting.

Room Tip: Make sure you stay in the old part, so the building in which the restaurant is downstairs. The other...
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  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled on business
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1  Thank Jools_B_London
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 July 2014

There are some good things about this hotel but our experience was that there are an awful lot more serious failings. If the average of reviews gives them a score of 89% then I despair of the standards accepted by the British. This is the first time I have ever submitted a review to Trip Advisor. It's the first time I've felt things were so bad people should be warned.

There seemed to be a higher ratio of staff to guests that at any other hotel we have visited. It seemed to be impossible to go anywhere within the building or grounds without bumping into them. How so many staff can achieve so little is unclear. The attitude appears to be that if you look smart, say charming things and smile a lot the problems will be overlooked. The other reviews suggest it must work.

We stayed for one night on a deal associated with ONFORM at Asthall Manor. The deal was that you stayed at the hotel and took dinner there to get free entry to ONFORM. When I rang to book I was told that the dinner deal would add £80 on top of the room rate. £80???! This was going to be some dinner for two if £80 (without drinks) was a bargain price.

When we arrived at ONFORM we found that the tickets we had been given by the hotel only entitled us to a small reduction. This was sorted out but it was embarrassing and not a good start.

We were allocated room 112 in the mill building. To reach it we had to trek along a very long corridor paved with very uneven stone flags and interrupted by two short flights of steps. The noise of suitcases being wheeled along it is a unique selling point, but be careful you don't get too fascinated by it because you need your wits about you to avoid walking into the solid wooden handrails suspended just at head height beside the stairs to some of the upstairs rooms. Be sure not to be distracted either by the Italian reproduction suits of armour that stand incongruously by these stairs. What possible relevance can they have to a converted mill?

The build-up on the website had led us to expect something of which the de Savary family are inordinately proud. Have they actually seen room 112 - or any of the dozens of presumably similar rooms in this block?

It was quite small and dominated by a huge bed, far too big for the room so that everything else was cramped. There was a tiny wardrobe constricting the entrance space and impossible to get past if you opened its doors. Only one chair (in a double room) - an office chair on casters, upholstered with a slippery faux-leather - so slippery in fact that unless you braced your feet firmly against the carpet you found yourself sliding off, but the casters meant the chair moved away unless wedged against the wall. Was this a joke chair, meant to amuse?

An impossibly tiny bathroom, with loo directly inside, so the door had to open outwards, a high-sided bath, with shower but no handles to help you in or out, and a wash basin right beside it preventing the hinged shower side panel from opening, so you can't reach the taps or shower controls without actually climbing into the bath! The bath side panel and the panelling of the wash basin unit appeared to have been recycled from some former use. They did not fit and had been screwed on with countersink screws, fully visible. The gap between the end of the wash basin unit top and the edge of the bath had been covered with a piece of unpainted 3x1 but you could still see into the unwholesome space beneath it. No space for a proper towel rail, so a rail had been fitted to the front of the wash basin unit so, once the towels are damp, you have to lean against them to reach the taps. All this crowned with a truly original piece of décor: about a third of the ceiling plaster had fallen off and, rather than repairing it, the whole lot had just been painted over. The dividing wall between our bathroom and the room next door was so thin that we could hear every word spoken and every intimate sound that we would have preferred not to hear from room 111's bathroom.

Sounds from outside suggested that behind the venetian blinds a window must be open and the room was on the ground floor with a path just outside, so it seemed sensible to close the window while we were having dinner. What the blinds had concealed was even more astonishing. There were no conventional window frames. Three single-glazed sliding panels filled the window space but they were housed in what appeared to be a DIY frame made from exterior ply. The offending open panel was locked open. I eventually found the release button and was able to close it, but there was no way to lock it shut. Anyone could just slide it along from the outside and climb in. A very old piece of folded cardboard in the slide appeared to be someone's attempt to wedge the window shut - or perhaps it was a thoughtful provision by the management. We then realised that, in the absence of conventional window frames, our privacy depended on the close fit of the blinds because there was no overlap with any frame.

The guttering was sagging and broken right outside our window and water was dribbling from it constantly. Slime hanging from the broken joint showed that it had been leaking for some time. This made no sense as it had not rained for several hours. Investigation later revealed that the water was leaking from the drip-watering system for the hanging baskets which had been laid along the guttering - but why had the guttering been left unrepaired?

There were no proper architraves round the door frames (which were unpainted leaving all the filler showing) and instead of proper skirtings plain 4x1 had been fitted. Is this what the de Savarys imagine the plebs will swallow as style?

Dinner did not start well. We had a table booked for 7 p.m. When we arrived at the restaurant a pleasant young man greeted us and was about to show us to a table when one of his superiors stopped him and told him (in our hearing) not to give us a table in one specific room because they were all reserved. Clearly our reservation was not as important as some other people's! No-one likes to be made to feel inferior, a lesson this hotel needs to learn.

I said at the beginning that there are some good things about this hotel and the dinner menu is one of them. Our starters and main courses were imaginative and excellently prepared and presented. The desserts were less imaginative. Having seen the prices on the menu, however, it was now clear that I had been right to be suspicious of the value of the all-in rate for dinner bed and breakfast. Our bill for dinner would have been under £80.

The waitress who looked after us and brought us coffee in the lounge was charming and attentive. Her superiors could learn something from her.

Neither of us slept well. The bed was comfortable enough, but the hot weather and our indignation at the inflated price we had agreed to pay for such inept hospitality kept us both awake. I spent most of the night composing this review!

The next morning we just wanted to have breakfast and leave quickly, but even more indignities lay in wait for us. Having been offered our choice of tables in the bar for breakfast we chose a window table that appeared to be the most desirable, only to realise that it was decorated with a small vase containing a single dead stem of alstroemeria. Dead flowers, yellow leaves. Had no-one noticed? Then we saw that the table cloth was dirty with food spills that were not fresh and it was so crumpled that either it had not been ironed before use or it had been in use for more than just the odd day. The cloth had clearly not been changed for some time.

At checkout I pointed out that our dinner would have cost less if we had paid for it separately, which the receptionist agreed was unsatisfactory, but she was apparently unable to make the calculation to adjust this so she took the cost of drinks off our bill, which was actually more than we were entitled to.

We shall not be returning.

Room Tip: Don't stay in the mill. Can't comment on the Old Swan.
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  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank R0bert_P43
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GMOldSwanMinsterMill, General Manager at Old Swan & Minster Mill, responded to this reviewResponded 12 July 2014

The substance behind success in the hospitality industry is passion, dedication, expertise, intelligence, acumen, hard work and teamwork. We can be confident that all of these exist at the Old Swan & Minster Mill.

To understand our property is to recognise that we are a country inn, set within beautiful Cotswolds grounds. The de Savary family are justly proud of this inn but never accept the status quo, constantly seeking improvement. During the past four weeks the AA and VisitEngland have both stayed overnight, incognito, to grade and assess our “Inn on the River” and of course we’re assessed everyday by the hundreds of guests who stay with us. This dictates our success more than any other factor.

I am so sorry that your review is so negative and that you were truly disappointed with the experience here. It is hard to reconcile all of the detail you provided with the personal contact and interactions which a number of staff recall having with you. However, in the hospitality industry we must deal with any disappointment directly.

I am truly sorry that the Old Swan & Minster Mill was not for you.

Best wishes

Patrick Jones

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Old Swan & Minster Mill

Address: Minster Lovell Mill Old Minster Lovell | Cotswolds, Minster Lovell, Witney OX29 0RN, England
Phone Number:
Region: United Kingdom > England > Oxfordshire > Witney > Minster Lovell
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Minster Lovell
Price Range: £108 - £223 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Old Swan & Minster Mill 5*
Number of rooms: 52
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located just 15 miles from Oxford and 11 miles from Blenheim Palace, the Old Swan & Minster Mill is nestled in 65 acres of idyllic grounds in the picturesque village of Minster Lovell. This quintessentially English inn and adjoining mill seamlessly blend the rural charm of these historic buildings with modern design, luxurious comfort and delicious menus crafted from the best seasonal produce. The magical gardens, wild flower meadows and woodland which enclose the mill and inn come alive during the summer months – fishing, walking, croquet and tennis are the order of the day while throughout cooler weather roaring log fires provide a welcome retreat. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Old Swan & Minster Mill Hotel Witney
Old Swan And Minster Mill
Old Swan & Minster Mill Minster Lovell, Oxfordshire

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