Myself and Clara have just spent the last week in a lovely converted barn near Chipping Norton in the Cotswolds called Hook Norton Barn. Owned by a couple who live at the opposite end of the field and own the local garage / petrol station 2 minutes away. Hook Norton Barn was recently converted and had its first guests in August 2016, which means we were one of the first few guests to enjoy this lovely space.
We found the barn through Sykes Cottages, but it also has its own website we found afterwards. The standard check-in is on a Friday evening after 3pm and we met with Sonya, one of the owners, at the barn around 4.30pm. Sonya gave us a quick tour, answered any questions and left us to it. With the owners living 2 minutes away we always felt we could get support if needed, but actually never needed to contact them during our stay.
Hook Norton Barn is located just outside the small village of Hook Norton, which is itself just outside Chipping Norton. Located about 20 minutes drive from Banbury and the M40 it’s an easy commute from London (as we did) or Birmingham and The North. The barn is actually located in the corner of a field, only accessible by a 200m (edit: my original post said 50m, but I was corrected by the owner and 200 is more correct!) drive off a small back road. It’s secluded and quiet (only the occasional car passing on the road and animals), but other properties are in an easy reach — good if you’re not into total seclusion.
We visited a number of the Cotswold villages during our week and Morton-in-the-Marsh, Stow-on-the-Wold, Bourton-on-the-Water, Broadway and Burford, all of which are no more than 35 minutes away by car. There are also plenty of good pubs close by including the Michelin starred The Wild Rabbit in Kingham, less than 20 minutes away. We also visited a number of farm shops including Wyatts Farm Shop only 10 minutes away (we had bacon, eggs and sausage from here which were all amazing!), and the original Daylesford Organic Farm (home-made pies, organic potatoes and carrots for us), about 20 minutes away.
The barn itself contains a main open-plan living / dining / kitchen area, one king-size bedroom and a bathroom and utility area. The bathroom and bedroom are at opposite ends of the barn, with the living space located in the middle. One side of the barn contains lots of large glazed doors and windows, making the most of the view of open fields out towards Hook Norton and South facing. The conversion is traditional but modern and is what attracted us in the first place. Original stonework on the walls is visible but surrounded by fresh, clean white walls and exposed woodwork. The internal stable doors are especially nice and show the craftwork put into the barn.
The living area contained everything we needed. One lovely historical feature is the original well covered by glass and lit with a light — check out the photos! The kitchen is fully stocked with pans, storage boxes, cutting boards etc as well as the usual crockery. We cooked a number of meals in the cottage and had everything we needed. A non-stick frying pan would have been our only addition, as the one provided didn’t do the nicest fried eggs — but we really are being picky here!
Sonya left us a welcome gift on arrival containing milk, juice, organic bread, butter, marmalade, wine, local Hooky beer, crisps and Banbury cakes. This was a lovely touch and really helped us settle in. The cottage contains communal stocks of coffee, tea, sugar, tin foil, cling film, washing up liquid etc and even dishwasher or washing machine tablets if needed.
There is a small 4 seat dining table and 2-seat sofa and chair in the living / dining area. There is also a lovely wood burner that we didn’t need to use, but would have been great had the weather been cooler. The whole cottage has under-floor heating and its easy to keep a good temperature throughout. The bedroom has a king-sized bed with very good quality bedding and linen, double wardrobe and dressing table. We slept really well which is testament to the quality and really enjoyed waking up, opening the curtains and looking out of the window a the morning’s view. All the furniture is of very high quality and feels like things we would buy for our own home.
The bathroom area consists of a massive shower, toilet and sink. The shower has a lovely rainfall head, good water pressure and temperature, everything you need! The towels provided are lovely and fluffy and plenty are provided to last you the week. Outside the bathroom is a small utility area with washer / dryer and small cupboard with cleaning items, hoover, ironing board and iron.
Outside, there are two small benches and a table along with a parasol for the summer. During the warmer months a BBQ on the small patio would be brilliant while you enjoy the setting sun!
If you know me, then you’ll know technology is my passion and the barn doesn’t let me down in this area. The living area has a large (42" I believe) flat-screen Samsung smart TV with Netflix and Amazon Video for those cozy nights in. The bedroom has a small Samsung TV, this time without smart capabilities. There is a broadband wifi line into the barn (BT Home Hub) and the welcome information also states a backup of EE mobile hotspot if needed. I personally took an Amazon Fire TV along just in case and we managed to watch Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Amazon Video and only had one evening with a slight connection issue, so pretty good for a barn in the middle of a field!
Given it’s location the barn is on mains electricity, but an oil fired boiler powers the underfloor heating. It also uses a water treatment plant as its not on main sewerage, this causes no issues aside from you must make sure you don’t put anything other than water and toilet paper down any of the sinks or toilets.
Overall we really enjoyed our relaxing week in the country. It was great to sit in the quiet of the countryside away from it all. The barn feels like your own home and is far enough away from civilisation that you feel totally cut-off, but close enough to visit the main sites. The barn itself is well converted, and is filled with high quality furniture and fittings, well cared for by its owners. Although pretty new, the barn already has everything needed for a great break. We personally look forward to returning in the future, and perhaps we should just keep quiet, so other people won’t book it up!