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Charlbury: Where to eat, drink and stay

Posted: Wed, 22nd Nov 2023
The Bull Inn in Charlbury

The pretty Cotswold town (and it is a town) of Charlbury in Oxfordshire has flown under the radar for some time now. Those in the know closely guard this truly authentic and very liveable spot. This is where the local community spirit is very much alive and thriving. Narrow lanes lined with Cotswold stone cottages and elegant townhouses reveal a pleasing charm and there is a gentle buzz to this often-overlooked gem.

Visitors flock in their hordes to nearby Chipping Norton in the Cotswolds. Its pin is firmly on the map thanks to oh-so-cool Soho Farmhouse just up the road. Charlbury, however, is only a 15-minute drive from the farmhouse estate too. Charlbury is one of those rare beasts – it is a genuine and authentic market town. For a true Cotswold experience, Charlbury is hard to beat.

The only area that may have been missing from Charlbury’s otherwise impeccable pedigree was a choice of great dining spots. Happily, that is the case no longer. A profusion of truly sensational eateries has opened up and Charlbury, once a superstar in waiting, is ready to shine.

The Bull or The Bell?

Two of the oldest pubs in Charlbury have been reincarnated in quite spectacular fashion. We’ll start with The Bull. Standing on the corner of Sheep Street since the 1500s (to put that in perspective Henry VIII was on the throne), The Bull has been central to Charlbury life quite literally for centuries. Focused on serving great beer, the menu here centres around open-fire cooking and constantly changes, depending on what the farmer and growers provide. The décor is extremely minimalistic by Cotswold standards, but here it works, and you can really appreciate the heritage of the old building. The Bell is now part of the Bamford empire and is a beautifully restored 17th-century pub with flagstone floors, a roaring fire and a sunny garden. The food here is modern British with produce from sister farm, Daylesford Organic along with craft beers from independent British breweries, draught cider and an excellent wine list.

Traditional pubs

For a traditional pub experience then head to the Rose and Crown, a multi-time CAMRA award-winning establishment with super real ales and regular live music from blues and country artists. Likewise, the Three Horseshoes on Sheep Street is a friendly, local pub with regular jazz nights.

Best of the rest

Chloe’s serves simple but flavoursome meals. With takeaway options available, you can also dine in and enjoy a ‘Chloe’s Plate’ which changes regularly and includes a glass of wine, beer or soft drink for a very reasonable price. The Old Shed at Banbury Hill Farm serves delicious coffee and homemade cakes, as well as breakfast, brunch and lunch, including ‘Shed favourites’ sirloin steak sandwiches and ham, egg and chips. The old post office meanwhile is currently undergoing a transformation and will open as Amarelo, a Brazilian-inspired restaurant offering a menu of South American dishes as well as Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavours.

The other string to Charlbury’s already impressive bow is its mainline railway station. Hop on the evening train at London’s Paddington Station and an hour and 15 minutes later you can be stepping onto the platform in Charlbury. It really is the perfect weekender.

Conde Nast Traveller has recommended Oxfordshire as one of its best places to go in in the UK in 2024 and to base yourself in Charlbury. See below for our collection of delightful Charlbury accommodation.

Armada Cottage | Sleeps 4

The Fold | Sleeps 4

Vine Cottage | Sleeps 3

Apple Store Cottage | Sleeps 2

Browns Cottage | Sleeps 5

Tachbrook | Sleeps 4

Merchant House | Sleeps 12

Read more: Best towns in the Cotswolds to visit

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