To celebrate my 31st birthday, Rory and I escaped to the Cotswolds for a weekend stay at The Wild Rabbit — a delightfully intimate British pub and inn in the quaint village of Kingham.
But with plenty of sunshine in the forecast and the summer holiday season upon us, we certainly weren’t the only ones with that idea. Many of the region’s most popular villages were teeming with visitors which, by the end of the weekend, rendered us thoroughly grateful for our decision to stay off the beaten path.
With no shortage of beautiful places to visit, the decision of where to stay in the Cotswolds can be a difficult one. As I was celebrating my birthday, I knew I wanted something special with access to a really good restaurant on site so we could fully enjoy ourselves without worrying about having to drive after. I also wanted to be close to the villages at the top of my list of places to visit, but also wanted to find something relatively affordable. So, when I set out to research for this trip, I started with a search for the best boutique hotels in the Cotswolds and went from there.
I came across The Wild Rabbit by happy accident, but can safely say we’ll be going back again soon.
The Wild Rabbit is every bit as charming as it looks in the pictures. With a picturesque patio and pub, an award-winning restaurant for fine dining, and cozy rooms named after animals from the countryside, it delivers the kind quintessential English experience one would associate with the Cotswolds.
A few key features of the inn make The Wild Rabbit unique from other hotels in the area. First, their food is grown organically at the nearby Daylesford Farm and is picked fresh every morning. Their fine dining experience is both impeccable and affordable, and the service and value for money is unquestionably good. Finally, Kingham is idyllic, yet relatively unknown. It feels very much like a local village, free from the crowds despite being very nearby some of the Cotswold’s most famous hot spots: Burton-on-the-Water, Stowe on the Wold, Bibury and the Slaughters.
The Stay: 5/5
The Wild Rabbit sits right off the small road that runs through the village of Kingham. The front of the inn and pub is covered in climbing ivy and British flag hangs over the entrance. It’s cute, but unassuming from pavement.
The main entrance to the inn is at the back of the property where guests can park and check-in. We arrived just before our check-in time at 3pm and were quickly escorted up the stairs to our room, The Mouse, just above the dining room and kitchen.
The Mouse, as the name suggests, is the smallest room at The Wild Rabbit. But, with its high ceilings, stone wall and exposed wood beams, we felt it was perfect balance of charming and cozy, with plenty of space for the two of us. The bathroom has a beautiful stone-encased tub and vanity mirror and sink, with bath and body products from the nearby Bamford spa. Coupled with the high quality linens, handmade bed, and homemade biscuits, guests get the sense that the details of the room have been thoroughly considered.
On the main floor, the dining room is open and spacious with the kitchen on full display. Just off the dining room is the pub with high-back leather armchairs and a stone fireplace. There are two outdoor patios — one at the front and back — where guests can enjoy meals and drinks among the birds and topiaries. The back patio is particularly nice for cocktails in the evening when the fireplace is roaring and the sun starts to set.
Running alongside the driveway, adjacent to the front terrace, is a pizza oven, barbecue stand, and cocktail bar that starts up for lunch in the afternoon and again for those enjoying a pub dinner in the evening. From the servers to the chefs, everyone is incredibly friendly. The entire staff goes out of their way to greet you and ensure your experience is a happy one.
The Wild Rabbit is quiet and serene, set among quaint stone cottages that have windows and doors painted a soft green. In the morning there are more cyclists than cars and you get the sense that it is place cherished by locals. It’s its own little oasis; just being there feels like another place in time.
The Food & Drink: 4.5/5
The food and drink at The Wild Rabbit is fantastic. Our experience in the dining room on my birthday was absolutely flawless and I would highly recommend that anyone visiting the area make it a priority during their stay.
Fine dining at The Wild Rabbit is only available in the main restaurant and, although unpretentious and affordable, is not lacking in complexity, creativity and artistic flair. With every dish, you get the sense that award-winning Head Chef, Nathan Eades, is genuinely passionate about the food he cooks and how guests experience it. The flavour, colours, and presentation all speak to his attention to detail and appreciation for fresh, locally-sourced and seasonal ingredients.
The sommelier is equally exceptional. After explaining our preferences for big, bold, slightly overpowering reds, he recommended that we try something unique and outside our comfort zone. We ended up with a delicious Bulgarian wine that was unlike anything we have had before!
For my starter, I ordered the Vale of Evesham tomato with a Cornish scallop, cucumber and basil, which was incredibly light and delicate. As my main, I had the English pea tortellini with whipped ricotta, organic fennel, broad beans, radish and chervil. It was light and refreshing, not overly rich or heavy. But the real, albeit unexpected, highlight of the meal was dessert: poached white peach with English raspberry, vanilla cream, and toasted marzipan. The description doesn’t do it justice — it was sweet perfection!
Rory had the crispy duck egg with Evesham asparagus, Parma ham, and coco beans as his starter, which came recommended by our server and did not disappoint. As his main, Rory had the South Devon beef ribeye served with baby gem, Bledington Blue cheese, picked walnuts and triple cooked chips. For dessert, he opted for the Daylesford Organic cheese selection, which was incredible, but far too rich and filling for me at the point in the evening.
Beyond our experience in the dining room, the food was great, save for the salmon salad which I found surprisingly bland and is the only reason I’ve given this 4.5/5. Breakfast is included with your stay and, although simple, is definitely tasty. We enjoyed starting our days on the terrace with fresh coffee for me and orange juice for him, local yogurt, and a range of pastries.
The Location: 5/5
One of the best things about The Wild Rabbit is its location. Kingham is close to many of the Cotswolds most iconic villages, but is bereft of the tourists that flock to the region. As a small residential village with just two pubs, it doesn’t have the same draw that the bigger villages in the area do. So, if, like me, you enjoy getaways replete with peace and free from crowds, Kingham, or villages like it, are probably your best bet.
Another selling point of the area is it’s proximity to Daylesford Farm where the kitchen sources its ingredients. Daylesford is an experience in and of itself. The campus includes a restaurant, food shop, garden centre, home store, day spa and orchard. On a sunny afternoon, you certainly won’t be the only one there, but the crowds are tolerable, particularly given how lovely and one-of-a-kind the place is. It’s close enough to walk or run to; our Saturday morning started with a 25 minute run there for a morning coffee in the sun. Or, it’s five minutes by car.
Nearby villages of Bibury and Cirencester are about a 30 minute drive, while Burton-on-the-Water and the Slaughters are about half the distance. Kingham is beautiful, convenient and unexpected — the perfect place to enjoy a wekeend in the Cotswolds.
Both Rory and I agreed that The Wild Rabbit and Kingham were a brilliant find and we plan on visiting again soon.