After having spent several days traveling around England and Wales, we were looking forward to spending our New Years Eve night at this beautiful, historic manor. It was an extremely cold day and after wandering around nearby Wallingford, we decided to call the owners and see if they would be alright with us arriving at around 4:00 pm. We were told that would be fine, but upon arriving the owner (I'm not sure he ever told us his name) seemed rather befuddled to see us and wasn't sure what room to put us in or how to put the heat on in the room he chose.
It was actually kind of funny and even a little charming in its eccentric kind of way. The house itself is stunning, with a beautiful garden in front, but we were cold and tired and just wanted to take a bath and get ready for the evening that we had booked at a nearby restaurant.
Eventually Christine, who really seems to run things, came in and told us that she didn't expect us until between 5 and 7pm and seems quite put out that we were there so early. I was very surprised by this as we had called to ask if it was ok, and most places are fine with earlier check in times. So we did feel a little unwelcome. Every other guest house we used that week welcomed us with tea and mince pies on arrival - perhaps we lucked out with the others, but we did feel the contrast at Fyfield.
Our bedroom (none of them seem to have numbers, but we were on the first floor, facing the garden) had a pretty view, but was kind of nondescript. You don't really get a sense of history until you go down to the breakfast room in the morning, which does have original medieval features. That being said, you really don't get to see a lot of the house itself as there's no public sitting room or area to relax in. I will say that Christine seemed more welcoming in the morning and breakfast was both organic and locally sourced.
And, of course, what isn't really the owners' fault is that yes, in the middle of a cold winter, the rooms of a medieval manor house are indeed cold. Because of the listed nature of the building, fitted radiators cannot be used, and the bedroom was heated with a standing space heater on a timer. There are drawers full of bedding should you need them - and, if you come in winter, you will.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- 12th century manor countryside guest house situated in the village of Benson. It has recently been restored and refurbished and now offers very comfortable hotel-equivalent accommodation in a building with features which span 7 centuries, many of which have been hidden for over 250 years. ... more less