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Muddy reviews: The Corinium Hotel

Pack your Cotswold bucket list and head to this quirky and characterful bolthole in the heart of Cirencester. Hearing its just got new owners, Muddy simply had to go down and check it out. Want to know what we thought? Read on.

THE LOWDOWN

With history oozing from every limestone pore it’s no surprise that Cirencester is the capital of the Cotswolds. If you’re seeking a gorgeous getaway this place is a serious box ticker.

Expect chi-chi cafes, indie boutiques and artisan cafes a-plenty, but take yourself off the beaten track – five minutes from the picture-book church and piazza square – and you’re at The Corinium Hotel.

Located on Gloucester Street (one of my absolute favourite roads in the Cotswolds for sheer prettiness) the hotel has been a stalwart of the Ciren hotel scene for 60 years, albeit fairly hidden away and low-key. But exciting changes are afoot. New owners David and Julie Sherriff took over a few months ago in March 2021. Previously managers of a farm in Wales (now that’s a job change!), but with experience in hospitality, when the Corinium came up for sale they ‘couldn’t resist’.

With a prime position, a handy car park next to its enormous beer garden (gold-dust in these here market towns) and set in a beautiful listed building, the only thing this place historically has lacked is a giant dollop of energy, a dash of modernisation and some TLC.

So what’s new so far? Well, The Court Restaurant has been newly rebranded to make it ‘stand out’ again, and the new menu is exceptionally good (more on that later). There are also new, seasonal, alfresco pizza nights which are proving a big hit attracting it’d be fair to say a tad younger crowd than previously perhaps. There are also exciting plans in the future to extend the dining room into an impressive indoor-outdoor eating area.

THE VIBE

The hotel, set in a beautiful Grade II listed, 16th century wool merchant’s house, operates to a ‘high three star’ standard, according to the website and I’d say that’s pretty accurate. There’s no room for a lift (there are disabled access rooms on the ground floor however), but its charm lies in the characterful wooden-beamed accommodation and olde-worlde charm. When we arrived it was an easy few steps into reception from the car park, so if you’re carting kids, buggies or mucho luggage it’s great, it’s also really dog friendly.

Inside it has a rather cottage-like, higgledy-piggledy interior with winding corridors and quirky rooms shapes, and it was lovely and peaceful (just what I needed after a busy week at work), the perfect place to get away from the main marketplace and throngs if you want some food or drink in peace. The crowd here seemed about a 60 / 40 ratio of tourists and locals popping in for a pint or evening meal.

The bar sits in the middle of the hotel (you have to walk through it to get anywhere) and with its big leather armchairs surrounded by original Tudor oak beams, flagstone floors and a giant fireplace it was really welcoming. I loved the replica mosaic floor in the reception giving a nice nod to Ciren’s Roman roots.

PILLOW TALK

There are 15 individual rooms spread over three floors, all with antique furniture and exposed timbers. There are two family rooms and a triple if you need extra space. Owing to the age and nature of the building, no room is the same shape or size so possibly worth phoning ahead if you want something special (the attic rooms are smaller for example). We were staying in the best room, a four poster beauty that was very spacious.

If you are after contemporary chic or love techy additions in your room you won’t find this here, fixtures, fittings and facilities are standard rather than hi-tech (don’t expect surround sound or the latest flat screen TV), but what it lacks in gadgetry it more than definitely makes up for in character, from huge sash windows to vintage dressing tables and chaises.

I also loved how pet friendly the whole hotel was meaning the dog could stay over too, dogs are allowed everywhere except in the restaurant and we met the friendly hotel dog several times, as he padded around at will!

SCOFF AND QUAFF

The Court Restaurant is The Corinium’s crowning glory, a lovely beamed room (great size for a party if you wanted to hire it for a special occasion) leading to a large, lush walled garden.

The Sherriff’s are on a big drive to make The Court ‘stand out’ from the hotel they tell me, and put it on the gastro map in Cirencester, so a new menu has been brought in to jazz things up.

The a la carte offering is well curated, the vibe being modern British with a hint of asian fusion. It also had a cheeky frisson of fun about it (G & T Granita or Patron Jelly anyone?).

For starters my lucky Muddy plus one and I had the Mini Lamb and Harissa Spring Rolls, Fennel & Apple Slaw and Coriander Yogurt (£8.25) and Soy Cured Sea Trout, Pink Ginger Salad and Smoked Trout Nori Balls (£8) both of which were really tasty and beautifully presented too.

For mains we had Cornish Plaice Stuffed with Brixham Crab, “Fish Pie” Flavours and Samphire (£18.50) which came in an intriguing shape! But was utterly delicious. And the classic ‘The Court Burger’ with Bacon, Local Cheddar, Lettuce, Tomato, Gherkin on a Brioche Bun (£13.95).

The burger went down really well with my partner who was glad it wasn’t an enormous USA-style heart-attack size so trendy these days, but that often leave you rolling out of the restaurant.

Dinner was finished with Lemon and Lime Tart, Local Strawberries & Gin and Tonic Granita (£6.75) and a Dark Chocolate Trifle with Exo Café Patron Jelly (£6.75). Both completely delicious and cheekily playful (the granita was dreamt up by the chef and was my favourite thing).

Although it wasn’t operating when I visited, there is also a great alfresco pizza pop up in the walled garden some nights, serving up stone-baked pizzas to the masses.

OUT AND ABOUT

Cirencester is a top notch destination, you could fill hours here wandering around the the glorious Abbey Grounds and Bathurst Estate (surrounded by the world’s tallest yew hedge), browsing the Farmers Market in the beautiful marketplace and an assortment of indie boutiques. Don’t miss the wonderful Antiques Market in the Corn Hall every Friday until 4pm too.

Nearby you are spoilt for choice, there are bucket list Cotswold villages in every direction, from Bourton-on-the-Water in the north to pretty Minchinhampton and Nailsworth in the west. One of my favourite local days out is the UK’s largest inland beach at the Cotswold Country Park, just 10 minutes away by car and you are 6 miles from the famous Chedworth Roman VIlla.

Coming by train? The nearest station is at Kemble (direct trains to London and Bristol), four miles away, with buses to and from the marketplace.

MUDDY VERDICT

GOOD FOR: A really friendly hotel off the beaten track that will appeal to lovers of authentic Cotswold getaways and romantics – they’ll feel at home with the intimate vibe here. Great for families with the huge garden. Anyone looking for the ideal base to explore the area. Pooch lovers will love the relaxed welcome they get.

NOT FOR: Ultra modernists might find the styling and feel a little too heritage-heavy for their tastes. If you don’t like stairs, the two flights are pretty steep. But we loved the quirky fact the staircase itself is actually Grade I listed it’s so unique.

THE DAMAGE: A four-poster room starts from around £150, a three-course meal for two came to a very reasonable £62.

David, Julie and their dogs

For more info or to book a stay get in touch at www.coriumiumhotel.co.uk, email info@coriniumhotel.com or call 01285 659711.

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