I wake up and put my hand to my head. Just where I feel the ache is a slight lump. I must have been out cold – judging by my lovely dream…
We were passing through a picturesque market town called Oundle. All limestone buildings, cosy pubs and cute churches.
Just beyond the town a peaceful lane ran alongside a river, and next to a lock was a gorgeous old watermill, Oundle Mill.
I dreamt that the mill, dating back to the 17th Century, had been beautifully converted into a fine restaurant with two boutique rooms. Rooms we were soon being shown around.
The gorgeously chic Mill Room lay under the building’s eaves, with exposed beams across the ceiling. There was a big bed dressed in crisp Egyptian cotton, a swish looking fire throwing out real flames in the corner and a huge standalone egg bath against the wall.
Then there was the Lucom Room in the mill’s Winch House – a wooden hut hanging over the side of the building. With the mill’s original pulleys still dangling from the beams above the bed, this room combined real character with plenty of style. In fact, I remember how the underlit bed looked to be ‘floating’. Floating? Sounds strange I know, but then this was all a dream, wasn’t it?
I dreamt I was talking to the manager too. Paul.
He told me of summer at Oundle Mill, of boats queuing for over an hour to pass through the adjacent lock – holidaymakers hopping off to enjoy the mill’s idyllic riverside seating with a pint or two whilst waiting.
But more than anything I dreamt it was about the food, about it being the only restaurant to win Restaurant of the Year twice in the Northamptonshire Food & Drink Awards – Head Chef Gavin Austin the one responsible for building such a reputation. And how the glass kitchen allowed diners to see his award-winning team in action from the restaurant.
For such fine dining, the whole ambience was still laid-back and relaxed. Cool even, with the use of glass throughout the mill giving it a real contemporary edge against its original stone walls.
Ah, if only Oundle Mill wasn’t a dream. If only we really had been there, shown to our table by that friendly waitress warning me about banging my head on those low hanging beams…
This hotel review featured in LateRooms.com’s book 52 Sleeps – an amazing hotel stay for every week of the year. You can download it here.
Update: I’ve just found out that since my visit to Oundle Mill, this lovely little hotel and restaurant has now closed. A real shame.