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An Inspector Calls… A review of The Feathers in Woodstock, Oxfordshire

An Inspector Calls… The Feathers in Oxfordshire was famed for being one of the first ’boutique’ hotels but now it’s in need of a face-lift

  • The Inspector checked into The Feathers which dates back to the 17th century
  • He said his room was ‘dark and pokey’ and looked nothing like the ones online 
  • Other downsides included the ‘soulless’ dining room and ‘meagre’ breakfast 

The Inspector checked into The Feathers in Woodstock, Oxfordshire

We heard that The Feathers had been given a nip and tuck — not that one ever needs much of an excuse to visit Woodstock, with its exquisite honeyed Georgian townhouses, boutique shops, pubs and antiques stores.

Then there’s Blenheim Palace, of course, where Capability Brown set about creating one of the country’s most thrilling landscapes.

The Feathers, dating back to the 17th century, once belonged to hotelier Gordon Campbell Gray, who made it famous as one of the first ’boutique’ hotels. Now it’s a sister establishment of Lords of the Manor in nearby Upper Slaughter and, frankly, lacks Campbell Gray’s style and attention to detail.

‘The reception desk has changed position and there is some new artwork,’ a member of staff tells us. So not much of a face-lift after all.

Our room is in a separate building almost next door, which you enter through a battered door, and it looks nothing like any of the rooms on the website. It’s dark and pokey, with a hideous pink throw on the sleigh bed.

One window looks out over the courtyard, another is set into the gable roof. Brown furniture is chipped (not so much distressed as depressed), everything feels sticky and we don’t think much of the feathers in the pillows at The Feathers. 

As it happens, the bedside lights are, well, as light as a feather. You get smarter ones in Ikea.

My wife inspects the tiny bathroom, with minuscule single-use plastic toiletries, and says: ‘They can’t charge more than £110 for a room like this.’ We’re paying £159.

The Inspector said the best part of The Feathers hotel is the courtyard, but it's 'all locked up for the night'

The Inspector said the best part of The Feathers hotel is the courtyard, but it’s ‘all locked up for the night’

The dining room, with its vivid swirly-whirly carpet, is so soulless that we eat elsewhere. 

We return at around 10.30pm for a nightcap, but the barman is nearly done for the day and is spraying cleaning fluid over the top of the bar.

I order a cognac, which he is about to pour into a tumbler until I ask for a proper brandy glass. The best part of the hotel is the courtyard, but it’s all locked up for the night. 

The buffet in the morning is meagre, the atmosphere perfunctory. Woodstock deserves better.


The Feathers, Market Street, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, OX20 1SX. 

For more information call 01993 812 291 or visit 

B&B double rooms start from £139.