Back in October, Tom and I were invited to stay at the Marlborough Arms in Woodstock, which is one of those towns that Tom drives through every day on his way to work but one where we never seem to stop for a walk around. So this was a perfect excuse (not that an excuse was needed!)
The Marlborough Arms, Woodstock is a historic coaching inn and has been welcoming guests since 1450. It’s one of those properties that would feature in a Dickens or Austen novel when weary travellers stop for the night having spent the day trundling along on horseback. It’s been elegantly refurbished and has been managed by the same family for over a decade.
As a result of the coaching inn’s historical background, it has an amazing location – in the heart of Woodstock with Blenheim Palace just a stone’s throw away. In fact, there is only one other hotel between it and the Palace. Plus the B&B has its own parking which is at a premium in Woodstock.
We entered from the car pack at 7 pm, so it was already dark and raining – we really did feel like Dickens’s characters. There’s a really large public downstairs area with comfy leather sofas and a pleasing roaring fire. We were the only souls about at this time accept for Alina, the on-duty manager, who was extremely welcoming, full of useful information and was quick to get us settled in.
We stayed in the Crimson Room, a superior deluxe double. The floorspace was nearly as big as our entire upstairs at home and comfortably sat a huge bed, two-seater sofa, desk, and an ample bathroom. Alina was right about the beds – they are wonderful and you certainly did want to take it home.
These rooms come with a Nespresso machine and despite overlooking the main road, the double glazing does a good job of keeping the noise out – it certainly did not trouble our slumber.
Interiors at Marlborough Arms Woodstock
Chatting with Alina, we had a glass of fizz from the bar, whilst she gave us a tour of the downstairs areas – which can be hired out for meetings, parties, and weddings. There are lots of period features that are lovely to see and as I mentioned before it has been lovingly refurbished to celebrate its heritage and pick out those features.
There’s an interesting fresco that lines the walls of the main lobby depicting the first Duke of Marlborough (his lineage live at Blenheim in case you are not familiar with the local history) and in the meeting room, the marble fireplace is covered in ancient graffiti. The oldest I could spot was dated 1797.
La Galleria, Woodstock
As there’s no restaurant at the Marlborough Arms, Alina recommended an Italian restaurant in Woodstock, La Galleria, so we headed there for dinner. It’s quite a traditional Italian with white tablecloths (particularly important in Alina’s opinion) and it was an intimate cosy space that served good pasta and a mean tiramisu. For the full continental experience, there was even an altercation in the kitchen in full-blooded Italian that could be heard across the restaurant floor.
Breakfast at Marlborough Arms, Woodstock
I couldn’t really fault the Marlborough Arms, except for just one oddity, which might just be personal preference, and that was at breakfast. Tom had a tasty full English and we both enjoyed the plentiful breakfast buffet with rounds of toast.
But I also opted for bacon with pancakes, which I assumed would be in the American style with streaky bacon. Instead, I had quite a thin crepe with some very thick back bacon in the middle and by the time we’d added the maple syrup – it had all gone a bit cold. With that in mind, I’d say stick with any other of the cooked breakfast options and there are lots to choose from.
The Marlborough Arms makes a great base for exploring both Woodstock and Oxfordshire, and it’s worthwhile simply for Alina’s local knowhow.
We were given a complimentary stay here, but all thoughts are our own.