The Howard Arms Cotswold Pub - Review

The Howard Arms is a 400 year old Cotswold-stone inn overlooking the peaceful Village Green of Ilmington, near Shipston-on-Stour in the Cotswolds.  The perfect place to stay for a romantic weekend away or just to get away for a few days and is in a brilliant location for exploring the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

The Howard Arms Pub




Above image provided by The Howard Arms - all other images in this post are my own.

The Howard Arms is a Pub, Restaurant and Luxury Bed & Breakfast and is what I call a 'proper' country pub.  We arrived last Sunday, freezing cold from the icy weather and was relieved to find a gorgeous log fire with two comfy chairs either side of the fireplace. We've visited many country pubs over the years but you'd be surprised how many have a log fire but actually won't light it.  There's nothing worse than being cold and it puts me off wanting to eat and now that's saying something as I can eat for England.  Always hungry am I.


This place has a lovely friendly feel to it and it was packed full, just as any good and decent pub will be.  After all a pub with no customers is almost as bad as a pub with no beer - as long as you come back and carry on reading this post, check out the song; Google 'Pub with No Beer'.

Good to see a great mix of people from young families with babies to elderly couples all chatting, eating and drinking.  At the bar we were greeted by a friendly and cheerful barman who asked what we would like to drink.  Red wine for me please - The Howard Arms has a large selection of ales beers and wines including Champagne.

Free Wi-fi is available here as it is in many places these days but the one thing I noticed about The Howard Arms was you didn't have to ask anyone for the password.  At last, a place that offers free Wi-fi but you don't feel a nuisance asking to access it as the password is on a chalk board by the bar.  Marvelous. I am a one for Twitter/Instagram, oh and FaceBook lol.
As we all know 2016 is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.  The Howard Arms was built about the time Shakespeare was writing King Lear and is only a few miles from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.  The Howard Arms has created A Year of Shakespearean Celebration here in the pub including 'Shakespeare aloud, which is a night of scenes from a variety of his plays which are extremely popular with both the locals and visitors.

Before you read any further I must point out this.  Just because we were guests I didn't feel we were treated any differently to other people there on the day.  It was plain to see the friendly helpfulness of the staff extended to everyone.  I don't want to appear all gushing but this place really is worthy of some major praise.

So go on then, what about the food?
Oh my goodness the food was, in a word, AMAZING.

Award-winning head chef Gareth Rufus certainly knows a thing or two about food and presentation; great stuff Gareth. Food is locally sourced too which is good to hear.  Oh and any bread is home-baked, now how nice is that?  The menu does have a few Vegetarian dishes too.

Check out my Starter; Beetroot Cured Gravadlax, Tiger Prawns & Lemon Dressing.





And Paul (the husband) for his Starter course he chose Panko & Chive Panne Goats Cheese Crotin, Honey Fig, Watercress & Cumberland Sauce. 





Then it was onto the main course.  Now I do love a good bit of steak, but it has to be cooked just right and by that, for me, steak has to be cooked medium-rare but more rare than medium.  It made my day when the lovely Jess that took our order knew exactly what I meant and my sirloin steak arrived at the table cooked to absolute perfection.  A lot of places are thrown into turmoil by my simple request, look at me as if I can't be all there and decide that surely I must just mean I want it cooked rare. 

1/2 Pound Sirloin, Cherry Vine Tomatoes, Mushroom, Chips & Horseradish & Parsley Butter.


Anyway Paul had The Howard Burger with Smoked Bacon, Cheese, Chips and Tomato Relish which arrived at the table looking every bit as delicious as he hoped it would be.  Yes this was a nicely cooked, huge and extremely good-looking burger.  It obviously went down a treat seeing as he cleared his plate.





Love that that every table in the dining area had a vase of freshly cut flowers which was good to see, a really nice touch.  Our table for two was a nice size; don't you just hate it when you're sat at a table but dare not move for fear of knocking something over?





What about Dessert?
I'm not a one for desserts but with that said, the Cherry Baked Alaska that Paul had, I have to say was something else.  I think Gregg Wallace (from the TV program MasterChef) would have happily buried his face in this!





The dining areas is nice and light and beautifully decorated - I love the big dresser at the back.  By now at the time this photo was taken it was about 4pm - hence the few empty tables.





The picture below was taken from our table looking towards the bar.  It's a shame I didn't get a picture of the bar on it's own but I felt that I must look like some mad person, taking photos of everything.  Anyway, if you want to you can see more photos of the pub over at The Howard Arms website.





Before I forget here's the lovely stone fire place I was talking about - well a bit of it anyway. People were trying to enjoy their drinks and wouldn't want me pointing a camera at them I'm sure!





Bed and Breakfast
I can't think of anywhere more perfect to stay than in one of the rooms I saw at The Howard Arms.  As always, I'm being totally honest in this review and after you see the rooms I think you'll agree that this place is the bees knees in places to stay for bed and breakfast.  On this visit we couldn't stay due to work commitments but we really must go back as this is one gorgeous place.

After meeting the Manager Rob, Mike (Assistant Manager) took me off for a tour of the rooms. There are 8 rooms in all and each one is decorated differently.  Due to a few of the rooms being occupied I wasn't able to see them all but here are the rooms I did see.

Check out the rooms!
In no particular order, first up is The Summer Room which I must admit was my favorite of all although it is hard to choose.  Decorated beautifully throughout, clean, bright and airy.  By the way, I want that clock.





The walk in bathroom is just to the left side of the bed.



Spotlessly clean and I think it's fair to say, faultless.









Next up The Cotswold Room. 





I'm not going to go on about the decoration etc, as every room I was shown was clean, stylish and just as good as the next, just done out in different styles and every one being as gorgeous as the next.





I love the slanted ceilings.


The bath and shower room.
































The Study - This room had been requested that it was made into two single beds for the guests that were arriving that afternoon but normally this room has a double bed.



Actually, having looked at these pictures again, I'm thinking it's really hard to choose and perhaps this is my favorite room.  Then again I dunno, they all look amazing, what do you think?





I want this bath in my house.  Yes as well as the clock I mentioned earlier!






Now in the old part of the building you'll find The Country Room.













And the last of my pictures - The Bathroom of the Country Room































Prices ranging from £90 to £130 per room per night (not per person) and that includes a 3 Course English Breakfast which I think is a really reasonable price.

All rooms have the following:
En-suite bathroom with bath and shower - (except The Old Beam Room; shower only)
Duck feather and down duvet and pillows
Flat screen smart television
Percolator with fresh coffee, tea and Taste of the Country gingerbread
Wireless Internet access
Toiletries by Temple Spa
Z-beds are available for children

Find out more and to make a booking:
Pop over to The Howard Arms website and for goodness sake mention Jan at A Glug of Oil blog recommended you.  Please note I will not receive any payment, just nice to let them know you found them by reading this post.

Twitter @thehowardarms

Many thanks to Jess, Rob, Mike and the rest of the staff at The Howard Arms.  This is a truly fantastic pub and one for you all to be proud of.  We will certainly be coming back very soon.


Disclosure:  We were guests for dinner at The Howard Arms.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.  I was not required to write anything positive. 

Comments

Gingey Bites said…
I'm like you, fresh flowers on the tables can make all the difference. The rooms look gorgeous too!
Katie Bryson said…
This looks like the ideal place for a weekend getaway... stylish and comfortable rooms and the food looks just lush!
It looks like you had a real treat. What a fab place. It all looks great and I love the Cotswolds.
Linda said…
Such a gorgeous place! Thank you so much for sharing, and your photos are beautiful.
You really can't beat a good country pub, especially one with a fire and good food! The rooms look beautiful too :)

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