Round 2 at the Miller

I first went to the Miller of Mansfield for a Valentine’s break earlier this year with the man.The ivy-covered inn has 15 uniquely-designed rooms that cater very pointedly for love-ins.

The room we had booked (Room 7) was exquisite, with an expansive sleigh bed and a veritable plunge pool of a bath that could seat the two of us next to each other on an elevated ledge as if we were in a row boat together, but with water up to our chests. According to the hotel blurb, this is a “Japanese-inspired” bath.

Unfortunately our stay was disrupted by an overly amorous couple in the room above ours that left their bath running while getting down to it. The first we knew about it was then water started pouring through the light fitting above our bed, accompanied by an ominous sizzling sound of wet live wiring. This also set off the fire alarm in our bedroom, causing the staff to dash to our assistance. Before the incident, we had been watching a movie with all of the passion of a couple of nesting hamsters. I was quite literally nesting in newspaper having got into a fight with the various sections of the Saturday Guardian and lost, while he was more engrossed in Up or whichever U-rated movie we were watching that he was in me in all my Guardian-reading glory. The fact that our evening was interrupted by “sex people” was not only inconvenient but also made the passionate shortfall in our choice of Valentine’s activity even more apparent.

The staff were sweet about the whole thing, but given how busy they were had to move us from our palatial pad to the teeniest room in the boutique B&B, number 15. Exquisitely decorated and featuring the designer furniture found throughout the Miller, it was a tight squeeze to manouevre around and the shower cubicle was an arm’s reach away from the bed. To compensate for the inconvenience, we were given not only a bottle of champagne, but a free night in the hotel to take whenever we wanted to return.

So here we are six months later on the train from Paddingdon drinking M&S Cava out of plastic cups. A bottle later and we arrive in Goring-on-Thames — without a doubt the quaintest place outside of Midsomer Murders – it has an entire shop dedicated to dolls house stuff, swans, tiny fluffy ponies and seemingly no 1960s architectural monstrosities lurking in the periphery.

Anyway, the room this time was big with white floorboards, a huge four poster bed and the compulsory “feature wallpapered wall” — a now slightly cliched must for any boutique B&B.

We headed down to the cosy bar where we topped ourselves up with yet another drink before heading out for the most disappointing Chinese meal I’ve ever had. It was if they’d got the tastes and the textures muddled up, making for a jarring sequence of oral surprises — not something you seek outside of the Fat Duck.

The next day — after a locally-sourced cooked breakfast — was official townie tourist day where I wandered around pointing at trees and beasts of burden with all of the wonder of a teenage boy in a brothel. Given that I lived in rural Buckinghamshire until I was 18, it always amazes me how quickly London has erased any previous country credibility. We conquered the biggest hill we could see — a thigh-bashing slope in the adjoined village of Streatley. It was wonderfully named Lardon Chase, which made me feel as though I was hunting down the calories from the bacon I’d eaten that morning. The views from the top of Goring and Streatley straddling either side of the river Thames were divine.

The Saturday evening we ate in the Miller, opting for the bar menu rather than the pricier food in the restaurant. The quality of ingredients and the presentation was outstanding. I had the Miller of Mansfield salad, which was a filthily indulgent combination of crispy bacon, chicken, Hollandaise, poached egg and, essentially, chips (they were labelled sauteed potatoes, but let’s call a spade a spade). It’s description as a salad was a bit like calling a fascinator a hat – it alluded to salad, but it wasn’t fooling anyone. The man had fish and chips presented in a suitably rustic-but-considered way (wooden board topped with a golden, crispy piece of battered cod; newspaper cone of chips; pot of super-fresh mushy peas and home-made tartar sauce). Bellies filled, we stumbled upstairs and it was back to nesting hamster mode in the super-comfy bed.

The only low points for me were the tiny TV and an extremely erratic shower that fluctuated violently between scorching and freezing with a 5 second warm window in between.

All in all it’s a wonderful place to visit as a treat for the weekend. The setting is delightful and there are plenty of other pubs and restaurants to try within walking distance. It’s more pricey than your average pub-hotel (with rooms costing between £109 and around £280), but deservedly so.


Categories: Culture, Travel

Author:Olivia Solon

Freelance writer and editor specialising in new technologies, culture, media and marketing, design and animal-themed t-shirts.


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