I have to confess that this is my first trip to Oxford. Neanderthal I know. I’ve been to Bicester Village but that doesn’t count so I was delighted when offered the chance to experience The Culture Package at the Feathers Hotel in Woodstock.
Woodstock (the birth place of Winston Churchill) is a charming historic town, 20 miles from Oxford and Bicester, or one hour by train from London Paddington.
The Culture Package includes two tickets to Flesh & Bone, the Francis Bacon and Henry Moore Exhibition held at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology (England’s oldest public museum) at the University of Oxford. A large collection of works by Bacon and Moore were selected for the exhibition to bring out the similarities and differences in their art. You can’t come to Oxford without doing something to challenge your grey matter!
The package also includes a one night stay for two at Feathers, a three-course dinner in the hotel restaurant followed by a complimentary Gin & Tonic and breakfast the following morning.
The Feathers Hotel is off a quaint street; littered with lovely shops and only a 20-minute taxi ride from Oxford train station. The hotel has 21 recently refurbished bedrooms; five suites and a four star AA rating. The restaurant has two AA rosettes and serves breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea (from 3pm – 5pm) and dinner.
Feathers has been a Sanatorium (in the 18th century) a Literary Institute (19th century) a Drapers and a Butchers (20th century) and got its current name from one of the previous owner’s love of stuffed birds. The hotel is an intriguing maze of corridors and staircases and it’s easy to get lost through the twisting, winding halls (we did, on the way back from dinner)!
We stayed in the Falcon Suite which was ridiculously large – it was like staying in a studio apartment! The suite had a large dining table, a mini bathroom, a living area with a TV, a bedroom with another TV and a large family sized bathroom. The hotel has free Wi-Fi available in every room which is a deal breaker for me. The décor is traditionally old English and perfectly suited to its location.
Food is a big part of the Feathers experience and we enjoyed a delicious, sumptuous three-course meal. I am gluten and lactose intolerant and the Chef did a great job adapting the menu to my dietary requirements. The waiting staff were friendly and attentive and made us feel relaxed and at home. I had the sesame crusted tuna with compressed cucumber with apple wasabi to start, halibut with butternut squash for a main (duck fat chips on the side – amazing!) and scorched bananas and lime and kaffir leaf sorbet; the perfect end to a fantastic meal. Attention was paid to presentation and flavour; this wasn’t food just placed nicely on a plate, every ingredient had been carefully chosen and cooked to perfection. This was one of the best meals of my life!
The hotel is famous for its dedicated ‘Gin Bar’ and has the largest collection of gins (181 according to the Guinness World Record.) The sommelier explained the best kind of gin to complement our meal; an orange and saffron infusion from the Dijon region of France. It was pretty strong but fresh and zingy.
I think Feathers is perfect for a romantic weekend away or, like I did, a mini break for you and a friend. The hotel has friendly staff, plush interiors and delicious food and absolutely worth the train tide from London; I will definitely be returning.
The Culture Package costs £125 per person and is available now until 18 January 2014.
Tel – 01993 812291
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