The Horse & Groom in Bourton on the Hill in the North Cotswolds has won the prestigious title of Pub of the Year from The Good Pub Guide 2016, a national institution known as the bible for pub-goers; the Horse & Groom also took the award for County Dining Pub of the Year in Gloucestershire.
Beating off competition from over 5000 other pubs, the Horse & Groom is acknowledged in The Good Pub Guide 2016 as follows: “Handsome Georgian inn with a fine range of drinks, excellent food, friendly staff and lovely views from seats outside; smart bedrooms. ‘A consistently reliable favourite’ and ‘everything here is as lovely as ever’ are just two of the comments from readers on this particularly well run, honey-coloured stone inn.”
Since 2005, the Horse & Groom has been owned and run by two brothers, Will and Tom Greenstock, aged 36 and 39 respectively; Will and his kitchen brigade deliver mouth-watering menus, while Tom and the front of house team offer a warm welcome and efficient service.
A Grade II listed Georgian building of honey-coloured Cotswold stone, the Horse & Groom is bursting with character and original period features, and enjoys spectacular views over Gloucestershire. It is the perfect place for a quiet lunch, a quick tipple after a stroll through the stunning local landscape or for a complete evening’s merriment. In the depths of winter, the wood-burning stove in the bar throws out welcome warmth, as does the real fire in the dining area, and in the summer months guests can head outside to the large garden and enjoy the views, as well as the best of the British weather!
According to Tom Greenstock, “Winning the Pub of the Year award is what Will and I have been striving for since we opened ten years’ ago. We’ve gained recognition through several other awards, but this really is the icing on the cake: it’s the award that every publican dreams of winning”.
Food is a very important focus at the Horse & Groom. Will’s approach is to find the best quality, freshest and most local ingredients in order to keep food miles low, and to combine them with minimal fuss and interference, allowing the natural flavours to shine through. The vast majority of the food is sourced locally from small producers (who are all proudly listed on the pub’s website), but the fish, for example, comes from further afield out of necessity.
In addition, the pub has its own veg patch and fruit cage within its own grounds, and an allotment in the neighbouring village of Blockley. In the right season, Will can also be found foraging for wild produce, such as garlic, walnuts, blackberries and field mushrooms. All this means that the menu is constantly changing and evolving to incorporate the freshest seasonal produce so rather than a printed menu, guests select from the daily menu that is written up on a huge blackboard in the bar area.
The well-stocked bar offers great variety from old favourites to new brews, with three hand pumps taking centre stage and offering a regularly changing selection of local real ales. The house pint is Jouster from Goff’s Brewery, ably supported by (among others) the North Cotswold Brewery, Cotswold Lion Brewery, Prescott Ales and Stroud Brewery. Lagers come from the Cotswold Brewing Company and Purity Brewing, with Hogan’s providing fabulous cider and the Cotswold Distillery supplying its distinctive gin. The small, but beautifully formed and keenly priced wine list is carefully chosen by Tom, and offers good choice and quality both by the glass and bottle.
Upstairs from the restaurant and bar, the Horse & Groom has five bedrooms, each individually styled and tastefully furnished, all of which offer en-suite baths with showers and flat-screen digital televisions, as well as free wifi. Complimentary mineral water and tea & coffee making facilities are also provided, alongside delicious home-made flapjacks. The pub does not have any twin rooms, but its two standard rooms can be booked at a reduced single occupancy rate; double room rates start from £120 for two people sharing on a B&B basis.
The Horse & Groom is located in a very picturesque part of the country, the North Cotswolds, which is easily accessible by road and by rail (Bourton on the Hill is just two miles/a five-minute taxi ride or a 45-minute walk either across fields or along the road from Moreton-in-Marsh, which has a mainline station reached in just over 90 minutes from London Paddington/40 minutes from Oxford). Within walking distance of the pub are several visitor attractions, including Batsford Arboretum, the Cotswold Falconry Centre, Bourton House & Gardens, and the house and gardens at Sezincote.