We’re in June, which you may know (if you read the nonsense I write here or follow me on Instagram, hi if you do! 👋), means that The Bean, aka the tiny human I’m currently growing, is officially due NEXT MONTH. (😱😬😅) How did that happen!? Anyway because I don’t like to do things in halves (especially when food and travel are involved, and my spare time for these activities is soon to be restricted…), we’re having two Babymoons! So here’s kicking off my June blogging with Part 1 of Babymoon 1: The (North) Cotswolds, where we stayed at The Bower House in Shipston-on-Stour, a restaurant with rooms.
Unfortunately someone up there isn’t my biggest fan as the weather was, well, utterly pants. So despite this being a very cute north Cotswolds town, with bunting everywhere and a variety of cute independent shops to meander around – my pictures are pretty limited! Although, when your accommodation is as divine as The Bower House, why would you want to go anywhere else in rubbish weather?
The Bower House opened in 2017 but it took two and a half years to refurbish – totally unsurprising when you consider that it’s a Grade 2 Listed building and the level of detail that has been put in. Even small things like the marble edging around the tiles behind the sinks – a stunning finishing touch, but something that was only permitted in small amounts, due to its weight and the building being listed. Art and interiors were supervised by Liana Braune, formerly curator of ‘The Museum of Everything’ in London, and it’s definitely evident.
There was a beautifully stocked minibar in the bedroom with range of local spirits (gin, of course) but the highlight for me had to be the homemade cookies. Yum! Plenty of fresh milk, sparkling water and still water plus your usual tea and coffee making facilities. One complaint? And it’s not only The Bower House that are guilty of this… No hot chocolate sachets for us weirdos that don’t like tea/coffee! But there were cookies, and cookies and milk pretty much made me feel like a kid in a swanky room, so all was forgiven. Being a self confessed foodie (although the word is starting to make me cringe), in addition to our swankified accommodation I was really looking forward to staying at a ‘Restaurant with Rooms’ (my first, incidentally) because of the food! A little research beforehand had shown that on Wednesdays they held a steak night, which was an added bonus being that we were visiting on a… You guessed it – Wednesday! Also worth knowing is that the a la carte menu was still available, and if we had chosen to dine earlier there is also an early bird menu with two courses for £20 or three courses for £27. There are also a variety of reasonably priced wines available by glass, carafe, and bottle. Chris went for an Italian Pinot Grigio, which at £6.50 for a large we thought was well priced for the type of establishment. We kicked off our dining sharing the local speciality (it would have been rude not to?) – Evesham Asparagus. It was served with a poached duck egg, crispy shallots, Parmesan and a tarragon dressing. The spears were considerably skinnier than norm, perhaps a young variety chosen for this dish as other Evesham asparagus we ate looked thicker. The duck egg was perfectly poached, the crispy shallots added a delicious texture (think they were Chris’ favourite part of the dish) and I loved the creamy tarragon sauce with the Parmesan.
We then moved onto the duck croquettes, served with an Asian salad, pink ginger, hoi sin, orange and soy dressing. I wasn’t a big fan of the dressing (but then I’m not a big orange fan) but the croquettes themselves were very impressive, both for the quality and quantity – I tend to think of them as being mixed with potato but these were just packed with duck and had a beautifully crunchy coating that wasn’t the slightest bit greasy.For mains I went for the rump fillet steak medallions with all the sides, £18 on the Steak Night menu including triple cooked chips, watercress garnish and a sauce of your choice. Being the fatty that I am I also ordered truffle mac & cheese plus a side salad to accompany. The Herefordshire beef was delicious, and not a cut I’d heard of/eaten before. It had all the flavour of fillet, was beautifully lean and tender, but didn’t have the price tag.
We’d been checking out the food pictures online and Chris thought that maybe it was going to be fries with the steak… Nope, they were proper hearty triple cooked fat chips! And the truffle mac and cheese combined with steak? Dreamy. As in actually made me go ‘mmm’ every time I had a mouthful. So good!!
Chris ordered the Cotswold chicken breast, with wild garlic, broad bean, pea and asparagus, Parmentier potatoes, crispy smoked bacon with a red wine jus. He enjoyed – although I think he was jealous of my chips, lucky for him I decided to share (he also had some of my mac & cheese).
I had genuine doubts whether we would manage pudding, but Chris has always been a man that can squeeze one in (he has a second tummy for puddings apparently) and I’m all about the ice cream right now… Lucky for us there were a variety of options, including homemade ice creams on the menu!
You may be thinking that’s a funny looking chocolate ice cream… That would be because the picture isn’t actually my ice cream – there was a slight mix up in the kitchen and to start with I had someones rum and raisin! Which was lovely (yes, I tasted before realising – oops!!) but not my choice, so I was quite happy to swap when we realised the error (our waitress arrived as I was tucking in… doh!!)
We weren’t rushed to finish which was lovely and we had a little nose around the various nooks when we had finished our meal before retiring to our room. Unsually the building hadn’t been an eatery/hotel prior to conversion – the building was actually several shops, with the ‘Sandra’ sign above the fireplace being a nod to its former existence.
Breakfast is served in the Champagne Bar area, with stunning walls in a beautiful kingfisher blue which I did tell Chris I wanted to use as a background for a pic of us – but as usual I was too distracted with menus, food and such for this to happen! Chris was tempted by the bacon bap – but went for the large Bower breakfast. Which pleased me as I was able to try!
Pet hate of eating breakfasts out is that they don’t come out with everything hot – not a worry here, everything, even the toast (can never understand why sometimes it’s brought before the actual breakfast, allowing it to get cold?!) came out piping. The eggs were perfectly poached with well cooked whites (jellyish whites freak me out almost as much as a solid yellow upsets me… neither was an issue here) and the meat clearly high quality, the sausage seemingly having a high meat content. My only complaint (and it wasn’t even my breakfast really, so it’s more of an opinion!) is back bacon would have been preferable! But each to their own.
For my own breakfast I went for scrambled eggs, with avocado and smoked salmon. Slightly risky on a few fronts – usually my go to breakfast pre-pregnancy, I’ve not actually been that keen on smoked salmon throughout… Also, the rules on eggs have changed and now pregnant women are advised undercooked eggs are fine by the NHS provided they are British Red Lion Standard (which thankfully, most restaurant eggs are) but as a general rule I do prefer a ‘drier’ scrambled egg.
If you hadn’t guessed I really enjoyed our stay at The Bower House – despite the atrocious weather. The room and the food were incredible and we really didn’t need to go anywhere at all! It was a fabulous way to kick off my maternity leave.
If I really wanted to find something to nit pick over – maybe robes would have been nice? But there was no spa, so that’s just me wanting to add to damage to the environment with unneccessary washing. So actually no robes was a bonus? (Toiletries at The Bower House were also environmentally friendly if you’re that way inclined – no miniatures, but beautiful smelling Cotswolds goodies in larger packaging saving on disposable plastics.)
The room we stayed in, Room 1, is usually £150 B&B with the exception of on a Saturday when it’s £175. In the winter they have been known to run a £175 Dinner B&B package, which for the standard of food and accommodation is clearly incredible value – so well worth following on their socials, you can find them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Our visit to The Bower House was gifted, but this has not swayed or influenced this post in any way. No one at The Bower House has been able to view or approve this content prior to me publishing. Usually I’d get hubby to sanity check for typos, but he’s been working, so any typos or factual errors are all on me. I’m blaming baby brain – so if you see anything – let me know!
Where: Market Place, Shipston-on-Stour, CV36 4AG
As always – thank you for reading!