Muddy Reviews: Ingleside House
Hollywood cool in the heart of the Cotswolds? Step this way madam. Tipped to be daringly different, and with its own acclaimed restaurant and theatre, this boutique bolthole was on Muddy's A-list to review. Want to know what we thought? Read on.
‘Welcome to the Extraordinary’ is the strapline that greets you on Ingleside House’s stylish new website. It’s a bold statement from the get-go, but then this hotel is dead set on standing out from the typical ‘Cotswold chic’ crowd.
Since opening its doors in late May after a no-expense-spared revamp, Grade-II Ingleside has jabbed the Cotswolds with a refreshing shot of glamour. You could be in the hippest quarter of East London here it’s so bold and beautiful.
Located just minutes from the centre of the pretty market town of Cirencester, this boutique hotel also boasts an on-site award-winning theatre, restaurant and piano bar too.
Prior to May the building was just office space, but with its prime location it always screamed out for something more fabulous.
The genius idea to convert the building was Ian and Chrissie Carling’s, the benefactors of the Barn Theatre next door, and the wildly theatrical decor of the place is a lovely nod to that heritage.
Sophisticated and sultry. Think Lauren Bacall or Jean Harlow if they’d lived in the Cotswolds. Gorgeous Great Gatsby-style design and old historical features hook up with sexy modern art and velvety furniture. We loved the grand 18th century panelling drenched in the deepest botanical greens, stately fireplaces reimagined in popsicle pink and cheeky showgirl wallpaper in the Powder Room.
Don’t let the incongruously plain entrance doors deceive you, behind them lie a gorgeously sumptuous residents lounge, 11 individually designed ‘Hollywood-hip’ rooms and ‘The Firepit’, a brand new heated outdoor space.
Given Cirencester’s large resident population, on any given day or night you’ll get as many locals as tourists milling around the bar or having a meal. I know friends in the area who regularly pop in for a brunch here with friends or a romantic meal with their other half before anywhere else in the town, so the place has a buzzing local vibe too.
In short, if you are searching for something a level above your two-a-penny, honey-stoned inn, then you have come to the right check-in.
Scoff & Quaff
Ingleside really delivers when it comes to feasting and drinking. Firstly because you can choose the setting to suit your mood. Descend into Ingleside’s cellar to eat in the acclaimed Téatro if you want a private or romantic meal a la low moody lighting, or head to its newly created, funky alfresco area ‘The Firepit’ with its colourful furniture, plants, fairy lights draped from the awnings and relaxed bar vibe, all set around glowing fire pits.
We opted for the latter to make the most of the balmy summer evening and it did not disappoint with the bar’s resident pianist Steven Reid-Williams tipping the evening into quasi-perfection in the background as we enjoyed our pre-dinner Spritzes in the sunshine.
The menu is really well pitched, with a neatly curated range of fabulous sounding dishes, not too gamey and meat heavy as Cotswold pubs can often be, instead there was a fresher, more modern, feel to it with shellfish and tropical flavours a-plenty, but with all the usual locally produced favourites you’d expect still (burgers, steak, chicken, vege options etc).
I started with the Mini Crab Tortillas with guacamole, mango salsa, sriracha, vegan crème fraiche, and coriander (£8.75) which were delicious with a big hot chilli kick and beautifully presented on black plates.
My Muddy partner in food bliss had the Lobster Raviolo with crushed peas, white onion puree, lobster bisque, and lobster foam (£12.75) which wouldn’t have looked or tasted out of place in a Michelin restaurant – divine.
Full marks also to went to the mains, I had the Whole Sea Bream from the intriguing-sounding Josper Grill (basically an indoor BBQ all the trendiest kitchens have them these days) with a lemon & parsley dressing, and green salad (£21.50). Although perhaps for some on the pricey side, it was delicious and cooked to perfection.
Also from the grill we had the Fillet Steak (£23) which Mr Muddy reported as being fabulously tender with a moorish peppercorn sauce I will admit I stole.
For dessert we went for the Chocolate & Caramel Fondant with vanilla ice cream (£8.50) and the Exotic Fruit Pavlova with meringue, raspberry sorbet and fruit coulis (£8.50). Both were an amazing way to finish off a brilliant meal.
Service here is super friendly, our waiter was really knowledgeable about gin and wine pairings along the way with what we’d chosen. And when the heavens suddenly opened and I had to make a dash for the hotel for a cover up, out of nowhere the barman rushed over with an umbrella so I didn’t get soaked – a massive tick for A-list customer service there.
There are 11 individually designed rooms at Ingleside, all named after local patrons and people who’ve contributed to the hotel and theatre in some way, giving it a really personal feel.
I was staying in the Iwan Lewis Room (Director of the Barn Theatre next door), if a room could make you feel like the lead in La La Land this is it.
It was absolutely stunning – a riot of ice-cream-coloured walls set off by dramatic deep green alcoves and a candy pink fireplace. It’s an IG feed all on its own.
Everything from the quirky artwork to the art-deco inspired chandelier and fittings, and spectacular freestanding tub with dimmable runway lights all made me feel I was lounging on Manhattan’s upper East side, not a quaint Cotswold town.
There was an easily-navigable coffee machine, locally made brownie treats as a welcome gift, fluffy gowns primed and ready, luxurious bed linen on the superking beds and nothing was too much trouble, with house keeping sending up a mini-milk bottle of oat milk to replace the standard dairy version I had.
I was staying in a Superking room and it felt huge, but if you want to go mega-Hollywood there’s the Carling Suite, a spectacular apartment-style space with all the luxuries you could wish for and a four poster bed.
Plus, in any room you can pre-book flowers, chocolates and champagne for when you arrive (erm, all three why not).
Because there are only 11 rooms it never felt too ‘hotely’ with people coming and going all the time which gave it a great relaxing vibe, and me the best night’s sleep I’ve had in ages. And I didn’t miss there not being a spa here, as the beautiful in-room bathtub had Molton Brown products which you can reach with your non-Champagne holding hand easily from the bath (I can testify to that), making it feel like you’ve been to a spa anyway.
Breakfast the next morning was down in Teatro, and there was a healthy choice of both continental and fancier options you can order, from pastries and pancakes to Avocado and Smoked Salmon on Toast and the Full English.
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.
It’s famous for its cool cafe culture here so pay a visit to Knead or Luxe for their incredible artisan cakes and coffee (both finalists in the Muddy Awards 2021). Or head to the Malt and Anchor, an award-winning fish and chip restaurant. 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.
A stay in a Signature Room like the one I spent the night in costs from a very reasonable £156. A three course dinner for two in The Firepit, without wine, totalled £81.00.
Wanna be a superstar in your Superking boudoir? Book in here. This place has stacks of wow factor but without any signs of pretentiousness. Couples will love it as a place for a romantic night away (get him to feed you grapes like a silver screen goddess in that belting bathtub). The decor is so sexy any girly getaway would be fabulous here too. Perfect too for the discerning Cotswold traveller who wants a base for seeing the area, and theatre-lovers, how many hotels have an award-winning theatre on site? No taxi needed, what a treat.
Ultra-traditionalists perhaps, if you don’t like your 18th century decor to come in a hipster colour pallet it may not float your boat. Dog lovers; whilst you can take your pooch into the covered garden area and the lounge, they are not allowed overnight in the rooms.