Don’t pretend you don’t love a boutique hotel! The newly opened The Swan Inn in the Cotswolds is already buzzing.

Don’t pretend you don’t love a boutique hotel! Newly opened, The Swan Inn in Ascott-under-Wychwood is already buzzing. This is the hotel you should visit if you’re thinking of redecorating your own home and looking for inspiration.

Until the recent double page spread in The Sunday Times, The Swan Inn in Ascott-under-Wychwood was really a word-of-mouth operation, a best-kept secret whispered by those in the know. This newly revamped boutique hotel is the latest venture run by husband and wife Charlie and Willow Crossley. He is the former owner of the Hollywood Arms pub in Chelsea. She is the floral stylist and author who has a faux flower range at OKA and has worked for Chanel, Jo Malone and Liz Earle. Their first gastropub The Bull Inn in Charlbury gets rave reviews; it’s worth a stay to ogle the wallpapers alone. So yes, we did expect good things.


The Swan Inn is the antithesis of an impersonal chain hotel. Every nook and cranny of the 16th century building has been lovingly bought to life by an eclectic, and well-known, mix of interior designers. Unusual and unique in its kind, this is a team effort kind of hotel put together by a band of designers, some associates, some friends of the owners. Willow invited her arty design buddies such as Lady Annabel Astor who runs Oka and Vanessa Barneby, of Barneby Gates, to help decorate the place. The result is eight individually designed bedrooms, and a family cottage.


Willow’s brief to her band of merry designers was, ‘Be bold and don’t restrain yourself.’ See for yourself how each designer interpreted her challenge.

- Room One is by Sarah Vanrenen, interior designer who loves colour, eclectic objects and non-matchy fabrics. Minimialism is not her thing. She hung the first wallpaper design she did (Aspa) in its vibrant pink raspberry colourway.

- Room Two was tackled by Annabel Astor, CEO and co-founder of OKA, who said ‘I fell in love with this room for its lack of symmetry and painted the walls pink with Edward Bulmer’s saucily named Cuisse de Nymphe Emu. The undressed ‘Tuvalu’ four poster bed adds structure, the pops of red give a sparkle and it’s all held together with our Chinoiserie cabinet and Mirror in Black.’

- Room Three was transformed by owner Willow who is famed for bravely mixing colour and pattern. Here she creates a bold but calm space using William Yeoward’s fabrics, an emerald green Indian quilt headboard and painting the walls with Farrow & Ball Hague Blue.

- Room Four was whipped into shape by British printmaker Molly Mahon. True to her style, she filled the space with her block printed fabric, wallpaper and ethnic designs.

- Room Five was designed by Penny Morrison, a London-based interior designer, who has joined Toby Lorford to open a new London showroom.

- Room Six is by Christina Strutt, creative director of Cabbages and Roses. She used the classic Hartley print wallpaper in charcoal, natural linens and delicate floral prints typical of The Swan Inn’s natural surroundings.

- Room Seven is the owner’s favourite – it was put together by CLJ Home, the interior design practice founded by Charlotte Lawson Johnston. It is light and airy with a slight Indian feel about it.

- The family apartment has two bedrooms and a sitting room, and the creation of Barneby Gates, the Wiltshire-based wallpaper and fabric studio well known for its playful prints. Downstairs, they hung ink blue Chevron wallpaper with midnight blue Marrakech Palm curtains, and installed their teal Palm Trellis sofa. Upstairs, the Seahorse wallpaper in charcoal is offset with pretty tea-rose pink linen.


Tucked away in the Cotswolds, this hotel has lots to offer for a weekend break. Potter around the national treasure that is Blenheim Palace in Woodstock; check out Soho Farmhouse; saunter round shopping meccas Bicester Village and Burford Garden Company; the former a haven for the fashion pack hungry for designer labels and the latter a destination shop for home makers.


The gourmet menu is big business and reason alone to book a visit. Locally sourced ingredients and the classics are given a new twist. Think soy chicken with wild mushrooms; lobster caesar salad, beef carpaccio, chilli mint and ricotta. All good.

August 2017