Imagine a stylish Asian beach resort in the chocolate-boxy Cotwolds, with a splendidly over-the-top restaurant. And a mattress that puts our reviewer’s inner princess to the testNungwi Village
I’m loose as a goose when I arrive at the Wild Rabbit, a former pub reimagined into a restaurant with rooms by the Daylesford team, the organic empire created by Lady Carole Bamford that includes an organic farm and cafe in Gloucestershire, delis in London, and a clothing line. Think Fortnum & Mason, not hemp bags.
The empire also includes the Bamford Haybarn, a day spa five minutes up the road from Kingham. There Kristi, the therapist, pummelled seven bells out of the knots in my shoulders, leaving me in a Zen-like state and fragrant with signature Bamford oils when I arrive at Wild Rabbit for the night.
Giant wicker lanterns swing in the bitter wind outside the glass restaurant, barn-like in its proportions and seemingly bolted on to the original building. Not what one usually finds behind a village pub. Candlelight glitters as night falls; Christmas trees flank a modern glass-fronted fireplace. I like it. It’s different. Well, different for here. There are more chocolate-box places in the Cotswolds than you can shake a stick at, but none that looks as if a contemporary Asian resort has ditched the perfect beaches and gone into the pub trade.
My new-build “garden” room, Otter, is the cheapest, a compact temple to wood, stone and linen. No stinting on the linen either – as in pure linen, not cotton. Towels, bedding, bathrobe, the lot. Coo. Coffee machine. Dimmable lights. Bamford products in their seasonal green bottles – though, as usual, nothing to put in the bath. The radio is a bit of a tricky horror, but the real problems emerge later.
I meet a friend from Oxford in the pub bit – a mise en scène of fireside, draught beer and board games. Later, puddings are our main event, though the chips may well become a tourist destination in their own right. Our nod to festivity – partridge, not in a pear tree but in a salt crust surrounded by cranberries – is tender and tasty, if a tad salty. I burst out laughing when I spot an aproned waiter assiduously slicing salami at a hefty “workbench” beside the open kitchen. Even for me it is an artisanal touch too far.
My friend leaves and I turn in. Uh-oh! Lighting outside seeps in at the sides of the blind (blast, haven’t packed a sleep mask), but only when I slide between pressed linen do I discover the real shortcoming. The mattress’s felt “washers” make their presence known, lumpily, through the perfectly ironed sheet.Nungwi Village
Good tea, a hot bath and, at breakfast, the largest pains au chocolat I’ve ever seen restore equilibrium. After, as a pricier room is being made up, I nip in for a peek. What do you know? The mattress grade is different from mine. I know, I should get a life, but choose your room at this inn with care.
• Accommodation provided by The Wild Rabbit