Travel notes: The Bull at Charlbury sees The Pelican crew return to their country roots

bull at charlbury inn review cotswoldsThere's been a pub here since the 1500s with much of The Bull dating back to the 17th century.

It sounds like a movie pitch for an indie British movie - returning to your childhood home to buy up the pub there. But that's the actual story behind The Bull at Charlbury. Owners James Gummer and Phil Winser, who also run The Pelican in Notting Hill, grew up in the area - they both had their first pints in this very pub. Last year they took it over for a Pelican pop-up in the country before reopening the pub as The Bull this spring.


Look and feel

The pub dates back to the early 1500s and the good news is that it's been very sensitively restored so it's all leather armchairs, candles burning and real fires. Think Puritan aesthetic with a touch of Regency comfort. It's a warren of rooms with a large area for drinking and dining as you go in with a massive fireplace. Then there are another two dining rooms off to the right, one of those leading to a private dining space.

bull at charlbury inn review cotswoldsThe most sought-after tables in front of the fire.

Is there a pub garden?

Yes, and it's a massive one. This is where you'll find the open-fire kitchen along with a separate bar serving up cocktails and soft serves. There's currently nothing in the way of all-weather coverage here, but we're told that's in the offing.

bull at charlbury inn review cotswoldsThe garden at the Bull is a very decent size

The rooms

The pub has 10 en suite bedrooms, many of which have freestanding baths and super king-sized beds. Six are in the pub itself and four are out in the converted barn adjoining the garden. We were in Room Six at the top of the pub which was a multi-room suite with a bathroom, a large bedroom with seating area and a separate bathroom with its own wood-burning stove. We imagine this would be super romantic in the winter. There's no mini bar or anything like that but you can ring down for food and drink to be brought up to your room.

Fancy a walk in the nearby countryside? Well, there's a handy walking map left for you in the room should you wish to explore and they can also arrange picnics for you.

bull at charlbury inn review cotswoldsRoom Six with its four-poster bed (there's also a seating area here too)

bull at charlbury inn review cotswoldsSuch a great bathroom - imagine that fire going in the middle of the winter...

Food and drink

With direct links to their suppliers, what you'll find on the menu at The Bull is directly linked to what's in season (and what's good). The menu for dinner the night we were there covered a range of game, fish and a wide selection of the best late summer produce.

Here's what we had to give you an idea of what to expect:

bull at charlbury inn review cotswoldsTrout with green tomatoes (£10.50) - the pub uses Wright Bros as one of its main fish suppliers.

bull at charlbury inn review cotswoldsMuntjac schnitzel with Victoria plums (£22) - a brilliant use of venison that went particularly well with those plums.

bull at charlbury inn review cotswoldsBeef rump with spring greens (£22.50)

bull at charlbury inn review cotswoldsRaspberry and almond tart - one of the best things we ate this month

What's for breakfast?

Breakfast is laid out in the pub's front room in the morning. It's a help-yourself affair with a table groaning with charcuterie, smoked salmon, hard-boiled eggs, and a range of breads and pastries along with fresh fruit.

bull at charlbury inn review cotswoldsThe breakfast offering at The Bull

What about Sunday lunch?

Already the pub has got quite a reputation for its Sunday lunch and a look at the photo below explains why. First thing in the morning there's a fire pit built for some whole animal barbecuing. On the weekend we were there that included a spit lamb and spit pork - there's also a rib of beef option and fish dishes too.

bull at charlbury inn review cotswoldsThe start of a proper Sunday roast

Getting there

Arriving at The Bull by public transport couldn't be easier (although they do have a handy car park if you're driving here too). Take the train from Paddington to Charlbury, which takes about an hour, and then it's an easy ten-minute walk up the hill to the pub. If you're arriving at night or when it's raining the pub also has a jeep which can come and pick you up.



Rooms start at £180 for a cosy double on a Sunday night, going up to around £390 at the weekend when a two-night minimum stay is required.


More about The Bull

Where is it? Sheep Street, Charlbury, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire OX7 3RR

Find out more: Visit their website or follow them on Instagram @thebullcharlbury

Hot Dinners stayed as guests of The Bull. Prices correct at time of publication.


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