Review by Charlotte Shepherd

ARRIVING at the Bull Hotel in Fairford it was clear straight away from the atmosphere in the bar that this is a much loved and well-used place for locals, as well as hotel guests, to enjoy a drink or a meal.

And it is easy to see why they would be drawn in. The Grade II listed coaching inn re-opened in March of this year after a complete renovation by the new tenants chef and restaurateur Sebastien Snow and his wife Lana.

It was obvious from our welcome on checking in that, as well as a refurb, the new tenants have been careful to put customer service at the heart of this hotel - everyone, from the manager on our arrival, to the waiting staff at dinner and breakfast, went out of their way to make us feel special.

TV and film set designer Corina Burrough was brought on board to design the public spaces at the hotel, and it is the fruits of her work that locals and hotel guests alike are enjoying when we arrive.

Unlike some new designs that seem determined to strip out all vestiges of the past in pursuit of modernity, these designs are a beautiful complement to the age and history of the building. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have an edge and a wow factor.

Colours are rich ochres and dark greens. The lounge, which has one of the two fireplaces, boasts a feature wallpaper that was an instant talking point for my daughter and I. Corina enlarged a detail from a still life painting by a Dutch artist to create the wallpaper and it is stunningly beautiful.

Tempted though we were to plonk ourselves on one of the inviting sofas by the fire, we decided that we really should freshen up and were keen to see our twin room (one of 21 bedrooms in the hotel). We were not disappointed.

Again, there was a nod to the history of the building with the wood panelling in a soft grey, but the rest of the room was bang up to date.

Designer Jo Titchener has used luxury as her benchmark, with beautiful linen and one of the best shower rooms we have encountered on our travels.

There are individual touches - the pair of velvet chairs in a soft orange add a splash of colour to the otherwise neutral shades of the room.

If we were to find fault it was the lack of a full length mirror - we would be happy to find one hidden in the wardrobe.

A quick cup of tea - fresh milk of course - and then it was down to the bar for a pre-dinner drink by the fire.

Dinner was served in the intimate dining room at the front of the Bull, although there are several other spaces available including the concerted stables at the back of the hotel.

With dark green walls, this was the perfect space to enjoy a meal on a chilly autumn evening.

The menu, devised by Sebastian Snow, and co-head chef, Piotr Skoczen is a welcoming mix of Mediterranean dishes and Sebastian’s Italian roots, (Sebastian’s mother is Italian), come to the fore with the addition of tempting stone baked pizzas.

We opted for starters of pressed chicken with sweet pepper, pancetta and pesto terrine, and a warm salad of blue cheese crostini, figs, pine nuts and chicory. Both were light and looked as good as they tasted.

Mains of flat iron steak with vine tomatoes, wedges and bearnaise sauce and a crisp confit duck leg with a warm salad of peaches, artichokes and roasties were full of flavour and presented with as much style as substance.

Puddings were as good as they sounded (and looked) - sticky toffee and date pudding for my daughter and, my favourite dessert, creme brulee. This one had a hint of elderflower, which was a wonderful addition.

Leaving The Bull the next day, after a hearty breakfast, we decide that we had just scratched the surface with this gem, and a return visit may be on the cards, even if it is just to enjoy one of their pizzas!

  • The Bull is in the Market Place, Fairford, Gloucestershire GL7 4AA. Phone 01285 712535 or visit