Review: the Churchill Arms, the Cotswolds

The Churchill Arms, Paxford

Looking for a cosy Cotswold bolthole this winter? Look no further than the Churchill Arms where the great statesman’s presence lingers in the bar…

The Churchill Arms, Paxford
The Churchill Arms, Paxford. Credit: The Churchill Arms

Stories of its namesake drinking at the bar still circulate at the Churchill Arms in the heart of the Cotswolds. The famous statesman’s presence certainly endures in the form of two large portraits hanging in the bar and bottled Blenheim water in the bedrooms.

A quintessential British pub, dating back to the 17th century, with flagstone floors, wooden beams and a large inglenook fireplace, the Churchill Arms couldn’t sit in a prettier spot than the picture-perfect village of Paxford near Chipping Campden. It’s the ideal base for keen history buffs, with Stratford-upon-Avon, Cheltenham, Oxford, and Churchill’s birthplace, Blenheim Palace, all within easy driving distance.

The bar features flagstone floors and a large inglenook fireplace. Credit: The Churchill Arms

Wonderful views of the rolling Cotswold countryside can be enjoyed from the bedrooms, which blend original features, such as fireplaces and wooden beams, with modern comforts. Ours had a cosy en-suite bathroom with luxury Baylis & Harding products, a flatscreen television, espresso machine and a king-sized bed so comfortable it was like sleeping on a cloud. A nice touch was a canvas print of the pretty local church and – in a nod to the pub’s speciality of game dishes – a deer print on the cushions and window seat.

At the helm is new owner Nick Deverell-Smith who reopened the Churchill Arms in February this year. Since winning Junior Chef of the Year in 2000, local boy Nick has worked alongside some of the most renowned chefs in the UK, including Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing, Marco Pierre-White and Eric Chavot, before becoming head chef at Soho House and Dean Street Townhouse.

Bedrooms blend original features, such as fireplaces and wooden beams, with modern comforts. Credit: The Churchill Arms

The Churchill Arms has a special significance for Deverell-Smith, who came to the pub for family meals as a child and at table four in the corner shared his last meal with his grandfather – whose bell now hangs proudly behind the Churchill bar and calls last orders.

With ingredients sourced daily from the surrounding countryside (even the gin comes from the Cotswolds), house specialities include the smoked haddock soufflé with chive velouté – delectable and as light as a feather, venison from the Todenham Estate served with forest mushrooms and truffle potato cake, roasted local pheasant and Cornish lobster macaroni cheese (fish is one ingredient the Cotswolds can’t supply). Nick’s dedication shines through in his astounding food, which attracts travellers and celebrities from far and wide. We shared Churchill’s chocolate pudding, which is rightly legendary, and will set you up for a bracing walk, some historic sights or a snooze upstairs, depending on your tastes.

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