The Wheatsheaf Inn

Gloucestershire, Cotswolds & Chilterns, United Kingdom Book from £115

Reviewed by Abi Dare
A cool spin on a traditional Cotswolds coaching inn, with a cosy bar, gorgeous bedrooms and top-notch gastropub grub
Centuries ago The Wheatsheaf was a coaching inn on the road to London. Weary travellers, wayward wanderers and the occasional highwayman would stop here to refuel, and its beamed halls hosted many a raucous party. In some respects little has changed: the dining room still buzzes with conversation, and ale flows freely in the bar. But the present-day incarnation is altogether more stylish, and the stables where horses once rested are now hip rooms for visitors of a different kind.

Set in the postcard-pretty Cotswolds village of Northleach, this rambling property was rescued from the hands of a brewery chain by London couple Sam and Georgie Pearman, who set about transforming it into a chic gastropub before extending their hospitality to overnight guests. With no formal reception, a loyal local following and an emphasis on culinary pleasures, it's a balanced dose of sophistication and relaxation. Georgie’s flair for design is evident in the 14 bedrooms, where the eclectic décor blends muted Farrow & Ball with a dollop of rock‘n’roll (Sebastian Krüger artwork, black metro tiles, retro furniture), and the Hypnos beds are heavenly. Back downstairs, delicious locally sourced food and fantastic wines tempt you to linger by the crackling fire, and there’s even a treatment room for massages. Blissful.

Highs

  • Foodies will adore the huge plates of rustic fare - perhaps Colchester oysters or red wine risotto with chestnuts
  • Wonderfully laid-back and sociable: pint-swigging locals mingle in the bar, and the flower-filled terrace is abuzz on warm evenings
  • Plush rooms and even plusher bathrooms, many with freestanding tubs or monsoon showers
  • Perfect for families and style-setters seeking country air (past guests include Kate Moss' posse)
  • Cool extras - Bloody Marys and Berocca at breakfast and Hunter wellies to borrow

Lows

  • Light sleepers are best to avoid the noisier garden-facing rooms, although the hotel provides ear plugs
  • In particular, Room 5 is above the kitchen, within earshot of humming fans
  • Not ideal for sharing friends - no twin beds and some rooms have open-plan bathrooms
  • Rooms lack wardrobes and tea- and coffee-making facilities, but you get hooks and room service drinks are a phone call away
  • It’s very popular, and deservedly so - book well in advance for weekend stays

Best time to go

Come at any time of year. Cosy rooms and crackling fires make for fantastic autumn and winter breaks, and the terrace and surrounding countryside are lovely come spring and summer. Nearby Cheltenham is renowned for its festivals, including the Cheltenham Festival in March, the Jazz Festival in April/May, the Science Festival in June and the Literary Festival in October. Book well advance for weekends.

Our top tips

Have an evening drink at the Ox House Wine Bar on Northleach's main square. It has a pretty panelled interior, wines by the glass, and a shop where you can stock up on bottles from a carefully chosen selection.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Spa
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Pub with Rooms
  • 14
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
  • Gun safe
Room:

Rooms

Georgie clearly had fun decorating the 14 rooms; all balance style and eccentricity with quirky touches - mirrors made from vintage cogs, Harrods crates for bedside tables - providing a dash of theatricality. Floral Lewis & Wood wallpaper, snuggly mohair blankets and swathes of tweed nod to the country setting, while striking artwork adds contemporary cool.

No room is huge, but all have comfy Hypnos beds and snazzy Bang & Olufsen TVs, plus complimentary bottled water and nibbles. Bathrooms (many open-plan) are even plusher, with walk-in rain showers and/or freestanding tubs. Lovely touches include gorgeous 100 Acres organic toiletries, tubs of bath salts, fluffy robes, and hessian bags of cotton wool and other sundries.

Our Excellent Room (Room 1) lived up to its name, with double doors leading to a vast bathroom with a sparkling zinc slipper bath - though the Krüger painting of a twisted face (reminiscent of Munch’s ‘The Scream’) might not be to everyone’s taste. Other stand-outs include Excellent Room 9, whose lofty bathroom has exposed stone walls, Very Good Room 6 - perhaps the sleekest of the lot with its masculine grey and black palette and open-plan shower - and pale-and-pretty Very Good Room 10 and Excellent Room 11, both with their own entrances off the garden terrace.

We’d happily stay in any, though light sleepers should avoid Good Room 5 above the kitchen.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Complimentary snacks and bottled water
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Iron
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

It’s not every day you dine in the company of Kate Moss, whose portrait gazes down from the walls of The Wheatsheaf's convivial dining room. It’s a hint of rock'n’roll in an otherwise traditional setting, where chunky wooden tables, lovingly weathered armchairs and padded banquettes sit next to open fires.

Chef Anthony Ely focuses on robust flavours, with local ingredients featuring strongly on his daily changing menus. We feasted on melt-in-the-mouth cheddar and mustard soufflé, followed by a tender sirloin steak - slightly overdone, but the blue cheese sauce and fries were excellent. The generous portions left us full, but in the name of research we shared a ridiculously rich chocolate and peanut ‘Marathon pudding’ - a good name, as it based on a marathon bar and was a struggle to finish alone.

Just as impressive was the wine list, which ran to 20 pages (we counted), and the roster of regional beers and international lagers in the bar.

The continental breakfast was equally appetising. We sampled croissants, perfectly ripe avocados, berry compote with Greek yoghurt and granola, homebaked ham, cheeses and toast; all washed down with fresh orange juice and coffee. For those suffering from a sore head, pour-yourself Bloody Marys were also on offer alongside a big jar of more traditional medications. Though it cost extra, our pancakes with crispy bacon and maple syrup were well worth the spend!

The restaurant is also open for cream tea from 4-6pm, and bar snacks and drinks are available throughout the day. You’ll need to book for lunch and dinner.

If you fancy a change of scene, you’ll find plenty of options within a short drive. Cirencester bistro Made by Bob (20 minutes away), The Tavern in Cheltenham (also owned by Sam and Georgie) and Daylesford's super-stylish organic farm shop, cafe and restaurant come recommended.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Mooch around Northleach, once an important wool trading town on the road to London, now a sleepy village with honey-coloured houses, a pretty church and a handful of antique shops

  • Other Cotswolds towns and villages worth visiting include Bibury, Stow-on-the-Wold, Burford and Cirencester, all within a 30-minute drive. Bike hire can be arranged if you’d prefer to explore on 2 wheels rather than 4

  • Lace up your walking boots, ask staff to pack up a picnic, and amble through rolling hills and wooded valleys. Maps showing suggested routes are available from the bar

  • History buffs will enjoy the mosaicked remains of Chedworth Roman Villa, 5 miles down the road, the restored gardens at Kiftsgate Court and Hidcote Manor, and the palatial piles of Blenheim, Sudeley and Rousham

  • Soak up the Regency splendour of nearby Cheltenham, and splash the cash in its many boutiques. Or don your glad rags and head to Cheltenham racecourse

  • Staff can arrange fishing and shooting (enquire when booking); there’s even a gun safe in the cellar in you have your own equipment. If you don’t fancy aiming at live birds, clay pigeon shooting is on offer nearby

  • Staff can also organise horse riding, and point you in the direction of the nearby Indoor Climbing Centre

  • Sailing, wind-surfing, kayaking and water-skiing are available at the Cotswold Water Park, a collection of inland lakes a 20-minute drive away

  • Back at the inn, unwind by the fire or have a massage in the small treatment room (book in advance)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Climbing
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Kayaking
  • Sailing
  • Shooting
  • Shopping / markets
  • Water-skiing
  • Well being
  • Windsurfing

Kids

The Wheatsheaf may be super-stylish, but its laid-back ambiance makes it a good option for families. There's no need to feel self-conscious about lively children in the sociable communal areas, and children will find board games and toys to enjoy. In warmer months there's a small garden with a Wendy house to play in.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

A baby cot or extra fold-out bed can be added to all Very Good Rooms, and Excellent Rooms can accommodate 2 additional beds or cots. Most rooms have bathtubs as well as showers, but be aware that some bathrooms are open-plan, with a separate loo.

Babysitting:

Babysitting can be arrange via a local agency recommended by the hotel.

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • Highchairs

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

The restaurant has a children's menu, featuring gastropub spins on all-time favourites (Shepherd's pie, pasta, corn-fed chicken with mashed potato, lamb with roasties), and staff will happily prepare packed lunches and heat baby food or milk.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Board games
  • Toy box
  • Small garden with Wendy house

    Kids Activities nearby:

  • Climbing walls at the Indoor Climbing Centre (5 minutes' drive)
  • Chedworth Roman Villa (10 minutes' drive)
  • Cotswold Wildlife Park (20 minutes' drive)
  • Watersports, a playground and a beach area at Cotswold Water Park (20 minutes' drive)
  • The Cheltenham Science Festival (June), with plenty of hands-on activities for youngsters
  • The magical Gifford Circus often performs nearby in summer
  • Birdland in Bourton-on-the-Water

  • Distances:

    • Airport: 1 hour 15 minutes (Bristol or Birmingham)
    • Hospital: 25 minutes (Cheltenham)
    Kid Friendly:

    Our guests' ratings...

    9/
    Rooms
    9/
    Food
    9/
    Service
    8/
    Value
    9/
    Overall

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