Lucy Self finds The Kings Head Hotel as charming as the countryside surrounding it.
There were many memorable things about The Kings Head, a boutique hotel in the Cotswolds-based city of Cirencester, but the one that remains lodged in my brain is one of the biggest beds I’ve ever seen. Huge it was. Vast. So big my rather tall boyfriend immediately threw himself on the mattress arms stretched, and still couldn’t reach the sides.
Once I’d gotten over the sheer scale of our sleeping spot, I realised the suite shared the same sizable proportions. Despite housing the following – floor to ceiling windows with curtains of endless fabric to fit them, an at-least-three-person sofa, two arm chairs next to a novel-stuffed bookshelf, side tables, coffee table and handsome writing desk – the room had not a hint of claustrophobic clutter. Quite the feat when you’re talking about more furniture than my entire flat. The grey-tiled bathroom was no box either. Fitting in a pristine white standalone bath, walk in slate shower and double sinks, with ease.
There was plenty of style too. Each interior touch expensively kitted out with contrasting fabrics and eye-soothing shades of crisp grey and pale green. Plus serious bonus points for our complimentary G&T tray – with tiny square bottles of artisan gin, Fever Tree tonic and mini kilner jar of pink grapefruit wedges.
Wrenching ourselves away from our colossal suite was quite the effort. Thankfully the menu of nibbles and small plates more than soothed the two hours of separation anxiety. First from the nibbles, an orange-centered scotched quails egg with peppery pink pork, golden croquettes made from braised pigs head, mushroom arrancini with a thick breadcrumb crust and perfect triangles cheese and stout on toast.
A parade of clever small plates came thick, fast and in no particular order. Braised squid with bracing chunks of pickled garlic. Then two black-skinned fillets of mackerel masterly paired local rhubarb and a pecan crumb, which probably shouldn’t have worked but really did. Followed by a salad of scorched fennel seasoned with salty hits of black olive.
A bowl of sea bream served with smooth aubergine flesh and a bright red pepper cannelloni almost won best dish of the night but was ambushed at the last minute by a lowly pile of cauliflower. Served two ways, fat florets salt-baked into sweet surrender and in snowy white dollops of puree, then scattered with roasted mushrooms and hazelnuts, it was a glorious thing and somehow made all the more for being the most simple.
So there you have it. If you happen to be planning a jaunt to the Cotswolds, I’d highly recommend you stop off at The Kings Head. Because it’s a fantastic hotel with a talented chef behind the stoves; it serves up a great breakfast with most ingredients sourced from local farms; the rooms are stylish and good value; the staff are friendly; and it even has a spa below its restored flag stone floors. But mostly because you won’t find a bigger bed, nor a more appealing way to consume a cauliflower.
The Kings Head Hotel, 24 Market Place Cirencester GL7 2NR