The Feathers Hotel is a 21 room hotel in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, a sleep little village with a bustling high street full of independent shops and pubs. The hotel itself sits in the heart of the village (hence the lack of a car park but there is plenty of on street parking around) and is steeped in history:
The front reception area and study was a Sanatorium in the late 18th century for people recovering from tuberculosis. “The Feathers House”, to the right of the archway was originally two storeys and joined to No. 10. In 1888 it was converted to red brick and a third floor was added, hence the dated plaque at the top of the building.
The Reception area of the Hotel was a Draper’s shop at the turn of the century called Alexander Bryden. The Draper’s shop was then taken over by Mr Robinson who ran this as a Butcher’s shop until early 1950. It is said that he roasted an ox in the grounds of Blenheim Palace to celebrate the Queen’s coronation. If you look from the side of the building you can still see where the shop window was!
The restaurant was once a line of cottages. If you look carefully from the outside, you can see that by every bay window there are traces of a doorway, or a door still in place. In all we believe there were four cottages.
Following the closure of the butcher’s shop and purchase of other houses the main section of the hotel was bought and converted into a hotel called The Dorchester in the 1960’s.
What it lacks in car parking facilities though it more than makes up for in charm, stunning decor, amazing food, incredible service and gin. Have I mentioned the gin?
We first visited The Feathers in October 2017 as I had read about their once World Record Holding gin bar and felt this was something I really needed to see. When Mr B asked me where I wanted to go for my birthday present I think he envisaged me saying Prague or Barcelona, not a market town an hour up the road. But when I heard on Twitter that this place had one held the Guinness World Record for the most gins behind a bar I knew it was somewhere I wanted to go and see. They no longer hold the record, sadly, but the bar is still well worth a visit if you are in the area. There are over 400 to choose from, listed in their handy Gin Palace list (I was presented with my own copy last October so when we returned this year I made sure it came with us). It is overseen by Octavian, a Romanian gin guru who knows more about gins than most of us can ever wish to know.
I had decided to bring a bottle of Blogger Gin with me and joked with Octavian that if he were to put it on the shelf they would be a world exclusive stockist. Octavian showed us how to do a proper gin tasting, neat, pipette style and then said he would taste it over the coming weeks to find the perfect tonic to drink with it. I was thrilled when Octavian then put the bottle on the shelves, nestled amongst many I class as favourites, and within sight of that World Record certificate.
What a thrill to see MY gin on the shelf of such an amazing hotel.
But what of the rest of the hotel? We stayed in a suite, just like last time, but each suite is different. So whereas last time we had a a huge roll top bath on a platform in the corner of the room this time we had a dining area, a lounge, and a separate sleeping area that I could have quite cheerfully never left. It also had it’s own TV so when Mr B wanted to watch Match of the Day in the lounge, I snuck off to the bedroom to watch something else less boring.
The bedroom and bathroom were behind sliding doors so it would be very easy to hold business meetings, or to entertain, in the space and never know there was also a bedroom just beyond the desk. There is even a separate loo for guests to use just off the lounge meaning they would never have to go through your bedroom to use the bathroom.
And joy of joys the tea and coffee facilities are on a table with plenty of space and not hidden in a cupboard (my current hotel pet hate). Why do hotels do that? Seriously, it drives me INSANE. Not at The Feathers though, they get it just right.
Every room has been thoughtfully planned and comes with complimentary toiletries, WIFI, flat screen TVs, and room service. They even have some rooms that are designated “dog friendly” so you can bring your four legged friend. There are even bowls of water at the entrance, and a basket of treats in the bar. They really do want to make sure that everybody has the best of times.
Food for humans is equally as wonderful. On our first trip I fell in love with a fish finger sandwich and eulogised about it at every opportunity. Sadly it is no longer on the menu but Chef Wolf had said he would make it especially for me. I couldn’t have felt more like royalty.
The menu is not extensive, there are around dozen options for the main course and six for starters and dessert, but everything on it sounds delicious, is seasonal and uses the best local ingredients. I would have found it hard to choose had I not have been looking forward to my fish finger sandwich for months.
You can either eat in the restaurant or the bar, or if the weather is good you can eat in the courtyard at the back. They offer lunch, dinner, or a gorgeous afternoon tea. Prices for the cream tea start from £9.50 and for £22.50 you can have an afternoon tea with Pinkster gin jam and a glass of gin and tonic alongside your homemade cakes and scones.
I couldn’t love this hotel more. If you are looking for somewhere special without breaking the bank, this is it.
It is, of course, also the perfect place to stay if you are visiting Blenheim Palace which is also in Woodstock.