I'm still chuckling at the guy who gave this place five starts and mentioned it was under new management. Nothing at all has changed since the 1 star reviews written before that "five star" comment. There is still no fixed lock on the communal toilet door!
I've stayed in three different rooms at the venue in December 2011/January 2012 and whilst it's better than the other two pub venues I stayed in (which were even cheaper, but far less friendly), it suffers from one basic problem - it's filthy and has not been maintained for decades!
Not only does the communal toilet still have no lock, most of the time it has no loo roll. The only light in each room runs to about 40 watts and isn't near the bed so reading is difficult. All of the rooms had an additional shaving light over an in-room sink - none of which worked, same for the old CRT TVs. Don't look under the bed or behind the wardrobe - great thick wadges of dust, peas, and empty bottles. Enough said! Not one of the heaters in any of the rooms (plug in the wall wired hot air contraptions) worked for more than about 10 seconds - the equivalent of someone breathing out for 5 seconds after sucking a polo. the biggest room didn't have a heater at all and was like a walk-in freezer and when I complained they did go out and buy a new heater but it was equally ineffectual. Bottom line: in Winter be prepared to sleep every night with two shirts and two sweaters on. They have no double-glazing and the windows don't close properly which not only makes the rooms really cold if the weather's bad but also very noisy. Although the rooms all look out to Towcester high street which is a "village road" it gets used by heavy lorries from about 5am onwards.
From what I can make out this pub and the others in the area (apart from the much more expensive Saracen's Head, which recently got renovated) rely on regulars who like the low prices and can cope with the run-down "service". The pub don't do breakfast but give you an evening meal "up to the value of £6" for the all-inclusive price of £25/night. Food is excellent, if basic, but during my stay the "curfew" time for ordering a meal suddenly changed from 8pm to 7pm with no advance notice. Often food runs out eg one time ordered a lasagne with garlic bread - it arrived with no garlic bread "because we've run out - maybe give you a bit more next time". At least the next table were warned ahead of ordering their "steak and chips" that "we've run out of chips". Be prepared! Also be prepared for not being shown that the place is locked up in the morning and you have to go out through the fire escape. Fine when you know ahead of time - a nightmare on your first night when nobody's told you, you don't know the layout of the place and there's nobody at all around!
The barman/manager/waiter is friendly but run off his feet, having to serve a busy central pub and deal with meal service and check people in and out. It's clear that no money at all has been spent on the place for years, and while they're constantly full because of lack of other accommodation in the area, why should they change things? If you have transport there's a much nicer travel inn for about £50 just up the road.
It's much less noisy than the first pub I stayed in (The Peacock) which had loud music/karaoke until past midnight every night) but beware Wednesdays which are Quiz Nights. The quizmaster uses a microphone that seems to be wired throughout the main pub so that every room can hear his voluminous tones full blast through to just past 11pm. For the number of people gathered it's pointless having a mic so it's a shame as otherwise, at least during weekdays, the pub is quite quiet. In theory they have wi-fi. It's intermittent and can disappear for whole days at a time, but heh! it's free.
I survived four weeks here working in towcester before finding a B&B that is much cleaner, much warmer and much less noisy, albeit a bit further out. If you're desperate this place will serve, but if you can afford it and have transport I'd consider paying twice as much for the Travel Lodge down the road which is cleaner, quieter and much more what you'd expect from a commercially run service.