Here's what you get for booking Oundle Mill with us:
A goodie bag, including treats from the Oundle Mill kitchens
Two, although another 19 are currently being created.
11am, but flexible, depending on availability. Check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from $199.74 (£117), excluding tax at 20 per cent. ⓘ
Rates include breakfast.
The land around the Mill is ideal for rustic rambles and wildlife spotting (red kites are a regular fixture) and the fact the River Nene is on the doorstep makes messing about in boats an attractive possibility.
Gardens, DVD/CD selection, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD player, Bose sound system with iPod dock, fridge with free bottled water, juice and milk, Elemis toiletries.
For 180º views downstream, book straight into the Lucom room. It’s a split-level timber-framed cabin on the rooftop that juts out over the front of the mill – definitely not one for vertigo sufferers. The bed seems to hover above a rich red carpet and original beams criss-cross the ceiling. The Mill Room is larger, with views across the Northamptonshire farmland and a free-standing Castello pebble bath beside the huge platform bed.
A head for heights if you’re booked into the Lucom, otherwise bring boots for walking, rods for fishing, and appetites for the good life.
Dogs are allowed in rooms and public areas (except the restaurant) for a £15 charge. Two-night minimum stay at weekends, three nights over bank holidays.
Free baby cribs are available and extra beds are £25 a night. The Downstairs at the Mill restaurant has a kids’ menu.
Star chef Gavin Austin leads the culinary charge in Upstairs at the Mill, an elegant and understated (despite the violet crushed velvet seating) restaurant serving Modern European fare. There’s a less formal gastropubby menu available in the hotel bar, Downstairs at the Mill.
Downstairs at the Mill provides a decidedly rustic combination of oak beams and stone walls, brought up to date by sleek black Italian tables and soft kilt sofas.
Food-wise, lunch can be had between midday and 2.30pm and dinner from 6.30pm–9.30pm. The bar serves residents around the clock.
The full restaurant menu is available during kitchen opening hours; at other times there’s a selection of light snacks.
Elegant upstairs; relaxed and rustic downstairs.
Ask for table 10 if you're dining downstairs – it’s set beside the window and looks over the lock.
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…
Outdoor activities ago-go: cycling at Rutland Water, rambling in Rockingham Forest, and pootling down the Nene in a narrowboat. Bluebell Lakes (+44 (0)1832 226042) are a famed carp fishing spot. Both Oundle and its surrounding town are classic chocolate-box settlements, replete with spires, rickety churches and historic architecture. Stamford is the go-to town for period drama backdrops, Fotheringhay is haunted by its grisly history both as the birthplace of Richard III and as the execution-spot of Mary Queen of Scots, and Harringworth's vast 82-arch Victorian viaduct is worth the trip in itself.
The area around Oundle is great for stumbling on hideaway inns and one-of-a-kind eateries. The Old Bakehouse in Rothwell (www.mmmtheoldbakehouse.co.uk) presides over both a fine Mediterranean menu but also a vaiety of snob-pleasing coffees. In Stamford, The George (www.georgehotelofstamford.com) leans towards the chintzily traditional, but its seafood platters and rare breed meats cannot be faulted.
The Falcon at Fotheringhay (www.thefalcon-inn.co.uk) not only gives the local darts team a place to sup real ale, it also serves a fresh, seasonal menu of local fish and meats, washed down with a wide range of wines. The Snooty Fox in Lowick (www.snootyinns.com) occupies an old manor house and turns out an excellent Sunday Roast. Dating back to 1280, The Tobie Norris in Stamford (www.tobienorris.com) is a great lunch stop – and a CAMRA pub of the year – that serves beer from its own brewery.
Serene on the Nene
Several airlines can fly you to East Midlands, 55 miles from Oundle Mill. Car hire is available at the airport, or the hotel will arrange transfers for £75.
The East Coast service runs trains directly from London King's Cross to Peterborough (15 miles awayl) in 45 minutes. The station also serves Leeds and Birmingham. Hotel transfers cost £25.
The hotel is just west of the A605, and less than 10 miles from the A1. Peterborough is 15 miles away. The hotel provides free parking.
Boats can come close to the hotel via the River Nene; choppers can land for the night on the hotel's helipad.
by Felix Milns , Tenacious traveller
Anonymous review by Felix Milns, Tenacious traveller
‘I’ve printed out a few pages from the Arundel website, the castle looks fab’, says a heavily pregnant and slightly confused Mrs Smith. ‘But darling, as I think I’ve mentioned once or twice before, it’s Oundle we’re going to this weekend, not Arundel. That’s in Sussex – we’re off to Cambridgeshire. And I’m afraid there’s no castle.’ Such false hopes can lead to disappointment. I’m nervous. Blessedly, the moment we pulled up at Oundle Mill, with its lockside setting, thick stone walls and welcoming air, all such thoughts whoosh away like the waters careering through the turbine below the neon-lit glass-floored reception.
There’s been a flour mill here on the banks of the River Nene, next to the Upper Barnwell Lock, since Saxon times, with the current limestone-built building dating back to the 17th century. Oundle Mill has been a restaurant since the Sixties, reopening under new ownership in August 2008 after a three-year refurb. For such a tall building it is slightly surprising to discover that this hip hotel has only two bedrooms: now that is boutique. The first two floors are given over to dining and an open kitchen, so it’s more restaurant with rooms than traditional guesthouse. Both bedrooms are on the top floor, the biggest of which, the Mill room, has double-storey beamed ceilings, huge velvet bed base, and a double-ended Castello stone bath bedside under its eaves. We are staying in the much smaller Lucom room, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in character.
A small timber cabin jutting out from the top of the stone building, with tiny casement windows on three sides is in fact our boudoir. The original mill pulleys still hang over the under-lit bed, which itself seems suspended over a deep red carpet. Mrs Smith doesn’t quite process how precarious this perch is until I point out Lucom from below. Fortunately vertigo is not one of her pregnancy symptoms. Once in our room, she is swiftly soothed by the Jo Malone toiletries and striped Missoni bathrobes, which she is more than a little tempted to sneak away with, magpie-like. She is in nest-feathering mode after all. Complimentary sloe gin, milk and freshly squeezed orange juice in the fridge is another considerate touch.
After a quick glass of champagne on the low-slung sofas by the high-top bar we are led through the busy restaurant towards our table. Peering out the low-slung window to have a look at the lock, I am brought resoundingly back to my senses with a thunderous crack on the head from an unforgiving beam. As we sit down, my head is spinning like a fly caught in one of the many spiders webs we could see around the turbines through the glass panel in the floor below. I distract myself with a menu that leans towards jazzed-up gastropub and the mega-portions are obviously popular with the loyal local clientele. We plump for a daily set menu at a decent £25 for three courses An unctuously melting pork belly is its centrepiece for me, with Japanese influences appealing to Mrs Smith. A tad limp tempura of asparagus with poached egg is followed by a delicious home-cured mackerel with crushed potato and pickled sweet beetroot.
Head chef and GM of the hotel, Jeremy Medley, pops out to welcome us at the end of the meal and shares the secret of his fish dish: his marinade is the same that Nobu use for their legendary black cod. A jovial chap, he takes great delight in our obvious enthusiasm for food, rubbing his belly confessing he is more than a little fond of it himself. Having casually asked for some recommendations to see, eat and do in the surrounding area, we are very pleasantly surprised when a bespoke dossier lands on the table with coffee.
The following morning is a beautiful autumn day and our best-laid plans are put on ice after a large full English which has divine old-spot sausages as headline acts. A few hours of watching the narrowboats go by while lounging with the papers on the banks of the River Nene are ample activity for us. We had planned on a five-mile hike around the adjoining lakes, as popular with fishermen as ramblers, but instead we hop into the car for a 20-minute drive to the glorious Burghley House, on the outskirts of Stamford. Famous for three-day eventing, with parkland laid out by Capability Brown, recent additions to the grounds of this Elizabethan stately home are worth a look. There’s an incongruity to some of the shiny industrial metal sculptures on display but Rick Kirby’s giant disintegrating, and slowly rusting, faces peering out of the undergrowth are captivating. So too are the Victoriana gardens of surprise, with myriad water features, complete with mirrors, smokes and lights.
Stamford itself is a gorgeous old market town that grew up as a staging post on the London to Edinburgh carriage route. The George was an old coaching inn in those days and today hails as one of the best restaurants in Lincolnshire. Specialising in seafood, we enjoy a tasty lobster tagliatelle, preceded by oysters and retro prawn, crayfish and avocado, unashamedly doused in cocktail sauce. After that, it is back t’mill where ambitious plans of sampling the DVD menu are quickly shelved in favour of collapsing into a dreamless sleep, high above the lock. We never did make it to any castles. But then – we didn't need to – we were given royal enough treatment at Oundle Mill.
Reviews of Oundle Mill from Smith members
Whenever you book a stay through us, we’ll invite you to comment when you get back. Read the Guestbook entries below to see what real-life Mr & Mrs Smiths have said about this hotel…
Stayed on 22 Feb 2014
The room was amazing, the food was delicious, and the service outstanding.
The weather could be better!
Stayed on 3 Jan 2014
The Mill room was fabulous, especially the fire and the huge bath! The food at the restaurant was great and the staff was brilliant, really welcoming and attentive in a discreet way.
The smaller second room over the restaurant is really too small, unless you want to stay in bed all the time and watch TV!
Stayed on 16 Sep 2013
The room was great and the food was very good.
Stayed on 6 Sep 2012
Service was great, very friendly and accomodating staff. Food was delicious and the chefs were able to provide dishes not on the menu (good for me being a veggie). It's very relaxing - just right if you want to get away from it all.
We stayed in the Lucom room which is quite petite but lovely. The only issue was the abundance of midgies (tiny flies) that seemed to invade the room even with windows shut. As you are right next to the canal (and it is a mill) you accept there may be a certain element of 'wildlife' but perhaps this room needs more maintainence throughout the day to remove the 'bodies'.