[This stay was gifted to us, but opinions and full stomachs our own.] Tom and I were invited to check out The Fleece in Witney, Oxfordshire, which has recently had a top-to-toe refurb. We’ve been to the Fleece in Witney before, as Tom’s brother and sister-in-law live and work not far from the town, but it was good to go back to see it in its new splendour.
The Fleece overlooks Church Green and all 10 of its guestrooms have had a makeover, but still in keeping with its Georgian heritage. Once upon a time, the building was home to the Clinch family, which owned Witney’s Eagle Brewery, but now belongs to the Oxfordshire’s Peach Pub Company.
The Fleece does have its own parking behind the pub, but it does get busy, so there’s also free parking on the green on Friday night at least.
We had room six at the top of the stairs. I’m always a little anxious about pubs with accommodation as I often wonder if you’ll be kept awake by the bar activity downstairs, but with the mega soundproofing doors, you wouldn’t even hear a mouse. Our room was decked out in turquoise, a patterned wallpaper reminiscent of a stripped back William Morris print. These are hand-printed by Cotswolds Rapture & Wright. The bed included a velvet-covered headboard in dark red and pops of burnt yellow pillows – very now.
I stuck my head in around the doors of a couple of other rooms and each one has its own individual quirks. Our bathroom had a powerful, rainfall shower that made me jealous, those trendy herringbone tiles plus herbal enriched products for hair and body created by Damana. Classic FM was playing as we entered and suddenly everything slowed down a few notches.
Dinner for two at the Fleece in Witney
It’s nice to have an overnight stay sometimes as it means both Tom and I don’t have to worry about who is pulling the short straw and driving home. With this in mind, Tom started with a pint of North Cotswold Brewery’s Windrush Ale and I a Forest G&T. The Fleece had a good gin menu, with some more unusual small batch varieties.
Mike, the manager, and his staff were very friendly and happy to offer up a recommendation, which is just as well as between the spring menu and the specials I had trouble choosing. For starters, I opted for the duck rillette and sunflower toast from the specials (which I originally thought would be like a croquette type thing, it’s not – it’s a pate!), whilst Tom had a beetroot and onion Tarte Tatin with goats cheese. Both slipped down very easily.
For mains, I went for the panko breaded chicken with lemon and skinny fries and a green side salad with avocado dressing. Tom had the sea bream with curried polenta, pea puree and carrot bhaji which looked like something from Masterchef.
We were both beginning to fill quite full at this point, but our waiter had been super keen on this warm blondie with raspberry ripple ice cream, that Tom felt he had to force one down. It would have been rude to leave him eating alone, so I had the chocolate and salted caramel tart with chocolate ice cream – with every intention of stealing some of Tom’s.
I did get a mouthful of Tom’s but the waiter was so worried I hadn’t experienced it in its full glory, he bought out a small version just for me. Two puds. I ate so much I felt sick. No regrets. This was all washed down by a bottle of Rioja.
Breakfast at the Fleece in Witney
After a good night’s sleep, in our firm, yet comfy mattress, we headed down for breakfast. We were both looking forward to this after the great banquet we had the night before, plus we knew that we had a weekend of gardening back at our place so a hearty breakfast would go down a storm.
Breakfast is open to guests staying and normal diners. Toast is self-service on the bar and cereals, fruit and yoghurts are ‘help yourself’ at one of the tables in the main dining room. There’s also a reasonably priced separate cooked breakfast menu. Tom opted for the full English which included sausages from Jimmy Butler’s Blythburgh farm in Suffolk; black pudding and scramble eggs, whilst I had the American style pancakes with bacon and maple syrup.
The dining room is decked out in a similar style to guest rooms, polish wood, plush seats, with touches of warm reds – cosy and comfortable.
With a weekend night stay costing between £100 and £150 for two people in a premium room including breakfast, The Fleece is ideal for a leisurely break in the Cotswolds, for a spot of shopping at nearby Bicester Village or simply for enjoying the tranquillity of the pretty market town of Witney. The pub also makes for the perfect place for business travellers seeking a friendly, convivial stay.
For more information please go to https://www.fleecewitney.co.uk/bed-and-breakfast-witney/ where there are also details of ‘Pay Now, Sleep Later’ offering an even better rate for booking and paying 30 days in advance and ‘The Weekender’, with a saving for adding a Friday or Sunday to a Saturday night booking.
It was with some reluctance that we left the Fleece as we knew we’d be barrowing four tonnes of hardcore into our backyard as soon as we got back, but we’d be looked after well in preparation.