Earlier this month Tom and I had the pleasure of staying at the Ragged Cot in Minchampton, which isn’t far from Stroud in the Cotswolds. It was a glorious way to celebrate the end of the week, spending Friday night in the lap of luxury, enjoying a chilled slap up meal, a very nice G&T and a hearty breakfast the following morning.
Do you know what I love most about living in the Cotswolds – that buttery coloured stone that can be found in villages from Chipping Norton down to Cirencester’s marketplace. And the Ragged Cot is a perfect example of a countryside pub but with all the mod cons you’d expect of a swanky spa.
Its 17th original building was formerly a coaching inn, which makes perfect sense when you see the Ragged Cot’s location – it somewhat surprisingly creeps up on you on the main road – it clearly would have been the regular pit stop for weary travellers. (These old coach inns always reminds me of that scene in Matthew Vaughn’s 2007 ‘Stardust’, when Yvaine rocks up at the witch’s inn… completely sidetracked there! But the Ragged Cot does have a ghost, I’m assured.)
We arrived just as the sun was beginning to set and I was keen to get some outdoor pics before the heavens opened. Trust us to pick the ONLY weekend in August which absolutely CHUCKED it down. Sam, the super friendly manager, showed us to our room – a very reasonable size, with some cool Penguin, inspired classic artwork and we even had space for our own chaise lounge. (Tried to convince Tom we needed one of these so that he could feed me truffles and poor me prosecco as I reclined… somehow he didn’t go for that idea!)
I was quite impatient to get into the cosy Shed which opened earlier this year. It’s a great space that clearly extends the offering of the pub, providing a convenient cafe area and chilled atmosphere for guests to enjoy a hearty brew. The team have just started opening up this area on Friday and Saturday nights until late and I bet, when the weather is good, that it’s a hive of activity. It had a very distinct hipster vibe that I’d love to try and encapsulate in our own kitchen, I might just bash out that wood effect wallpaper after all.
The main restaurant area is decked out in the usual country affair, including the odd antler set and in a colour palette that has the nod to Daylesford green. But it’s not pretentious like some other Cotswold establishments. I was pleased to hear from Sam that this year they’ve been pretty booked up throughout the summer months without having to discount any of the rooms – it’s always great when a local business is thriving.
We had time to chill out and catch up on the latest Olympic gossip, before our dinner. The place was packed, but we had a lovely table that looked out onto the bar and we were able to chat to the staff in between their really busy periods. I’m definitely onboard with this gin renaissance and the gregarious barman put together a Saffron G&T with twist – a citrus peel. (I had several of those!) Tom also tried the Ragged Cot Beer which is brewed especially for the pub by Wychwood Brewers in Witney, although Sam does suspect that it might be supplied to a number of pubs which also lend their name to it! Either way, it’s always on tap and it’s one of the best sellers.
We opted to have the mixed bread selection to start. After several weeks of Frylight, which is considerably more Slimming World friendly, it was a joy to sink our teeth into think farmhouse bread and dip it in golden olive oil. For mains, I choose the Ragged Cot’s signature dish – chicken stuff with spinach and served with delicious dauphinoise potatoes. But even I must admit, the STAR of the show was Tom’s pork chop which was the size of his FACE and was served with a tasty onion and potato rosti (this not your usual frozen bird’s eye version) with a honey glaze.
My rice pudding was served in a nifty mini saucepan and I loved the homemade fruit compote in hipster Kilner jar (does that count as one of your five a day?) Tom’s creme brulee was tasty, but could have done with just one minute under the blow torch – we’re both quite partial to a very crunchy top on a brulee.
Fully stuffed and squiffy, we rolled up to bed – that has to be the best way to end a busy working week, right? The following morning, we enjoyed two hearty farmhouse English breakfasts before setting off for a gander around Tetbury.
Our stay was organised by the Ragged Cot, but all our views completely our own!