Review by Fiona Duncan, published 3rd February 2012.
Here’s a neat idea – at least I think so. Barnsley House is currently the most sought-after hotel in Gloucestershire. Its combination of boutique looks, informal dining, intimate spa and exceptional garden, made famous by its former owner, horticulturalist Rosemary Verey, has made it very appealing. But needless to say, its charms come at a price: rooms start at around £275 and up they go.
But there’s another place to stay in scrubbed-stone Barnsley: The Village Pub – and it’s under the same ownership. Check in here and the bill will be less than half, and you can still buy into the benefits of the larger hotel. If you stay on a Sunday, you can pop over to Barnsley House for a slap-up afternoon tea, followed by a movie screened in the hotel’s private cinema, slumped in capacious pink leather armchairs and dipping naughtily into tubs of complimentary popcorn.
Alternatively, you could eat after the film in the hotel’s chic, all-white Potager dining room. Both the two-course dinner and the tea cost £25, film included (not bad considering the cost of a cinema ticket these days). Me, I chose the tea: stuffed myself with sandwiches, scones and apple cake and then flopped in front of Bridesmaids. Utter bliss.
And what of the pub without a proper pub name (only in the Cotswolds)? “Our traditional country pub isn’t a typical tourist trap or sightseers’ spot” reads the blurb, “it’s a local pub at the heart of the village community”. What, with a sophisticated, almost boudoir-feminine cream, mushroom and apricot velvet interior by design supremos Fox Linton? With staff dressed in smart black and maroon uniforms? Doubtless, for the Labrador-owning, Hunter-booted yeomen of Gloucestershire, Barnsley’s Village Pub is positively rustique, but even they can’t honestly think of it as “the heart of the community”. “Here comes a local now,” said the waitress, as a Ferrari rolled into the car park.
No, don’t come to The Village Pub for authenticity; though do rest assured that it still feels warm and comfortable, friendly and informal, with toasty log fires, just as any good pub should. Come instead for a place that acts as soigné Barnsley House’s baby sister, with six bedrooms that are not large but have creamy, sophisticated good looks and excellent bathrooms (three simpler ones at £125, three more luxurious at £150). Two, Nos 5 and 6, also have sturdy oak four-posters; mine had a free-standing roll-top bath that I put to good use.
Come for a varied menu with some imaginative takes on English classics; and come, if you can, on a monthly Sunday movie night. On Sunday, February 26, Oscar night, the cinema will screen back-to-back Best Picture winners from the past throughout the night, with the latest news bulletins from the 2012 Oscars ceremony. If you feel like it, you could watch a movie at one in the morning in your dressing gown.
If truth be told, I know of other posh pub bedrooms in the area that are even more pampering and cost less than these, so best to allow yourselves a few add-ons that those other places can’t provide: Barnsley’s heavenly garden, perhaps, or a treatment in the spa or afternoon tea - and that movie that you missed first time around but always meant to see.