We can’t have passed more than two cars on the road through to Paxton.
The rugby ball-shaped hamlet is cut straight from The Holiday, encased by rolling meadows and perfumed by fresh country air.
Apples are left outside driveways in buckets for you to pick up as you walk the quiet streets.
A nod to local produce is never hard to find in these parts, and it’s no surprise that there’s a humdrum of activity centred around the village’s quintessential pub come Saturday night.
Lodged at the edge of Paxford The Churchill Arms sits in an idyllic location. A small church lies perpendicular to the hotel marking the start of acres of endless country fields, with herds of sheep the only company for miles around. The historic town of Chipping Campden is a ten minute drive away and Moreton-in-Marsh, where trains run to London every hour, is a similarly quick jaunt. You’ll find artisan shops and craft markets in both as well as museums, parks, rivers and pubs.
No two rooms are the same at The Churchill Arms, but you can be rest assured that each will be packed full of character, charm and warmth. Sheepskin rugs adorn hard wood floors with exposed beams and stylish furniture on show. There’s espresso machines, home-made cookies and Voyage Wool blankets to wrap up in, as well as a long and inviting bath with Bramley bath time products on hand to pamper yourself with. The view from the window as the sun sets across the Cotswolds in simply stunning, and the aromas for those who, like me, live a city life are intoxicating.
As a B&B with only a handful of rooms the services are, understandably, quite limited. One thing I took advantage of was the beer garden and communal playing fields that lay behind the hotel which are perfect spaces to enjoy a book, an afternoon nap or a pint of the pub’s house ale. Seating areas are also provided to the front of building, where ample parking space can be found. Wifi is available throughout, although it can be a bit patchy in parts.
Food and drink 5/5
Despite passing fewer than two cars on the road in, come Saturday night The Churchill Arms is bustling with people. The reason for this is Nick Deverell-Smith, the chef-proprietor of the restaurant-come-pub-come-hotel, who under the stewardship of Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsay and following an appearance on the BBC’s Great British Menu has made quite a name for himself.
Returning to Paxford for his first solo venture Deverell-Smith makes the menu sing with provenance. Other than the fish all produce is sourced within a ten mile radius of the restaurant, including the sage, rosemary and thyme, which is picked every morning from his neighbour’s garden.
The signature dish is a Smoked haddock soufflé with chive velouté, and it would be criminal not to try it on any trip to the Arms. The soft, jelly-shaped entrée has a delicate and fluffy texture but packs more flavour than anything your likely to eat this year. It is perfection on a plate, and at the risk of over-egging it (sorry), is probably worth the trip alone.
A main course of Cotswolds lamb and a chicken dish served with tender, fresh chanterelle mushrooms certainly lived up to the hype set by our mouth-watering starters, and when a homemade goats curd was served alongside Wyfe of Bath, Oxford Blue and Rollright cheese for desserts I was just about ready to pop, and primed for the short walk to bed.
Breakfast the next day is a quiet affair, but certainly worth sauntering down for. Thick rashers of bacon are served alongside locally-sourced sausages, eggs, black pudding, beans and a grilled tomato. Fresh coffee and ample helpings of toast and preserves are also on hand, along with cereals and juice.
Travel for the location, but stay for the food. The accommodation is idyllic, providing access to beautiful Cotswold surroundings and chic country comfort at night. But it plays second fiddle to Deverell-Smith’s food offering, which is simply sublime.