Hampton Poyle is six miles north of Oxford and four miles east of Oxford airport. It’s a hamlet, a small Anglo-Saxon settlement that was handed to Walter De La Poyle by the Norman conquerors of England and didn’t grow much after that. The village sits alongside the Cherwell river which flows south from here and eventually merges with the Thames after Magdalen College.
The Bell is not far from St Mary’s Church at the point when the Oxford Road becomes the Bletchingdon Road. A pedestrian bridge crosses the Cherwell nearby. Had it been a road bridge, Hampton Poyle may have developed into something much larger. As it is, the village is a quiet place off the mighty A34 that links the M40 with Oxford. There is a 15-minute walk down to the Cherwell which is worth taking in the early morning mist.
There are five rooms in the row of converted cottages and four new rooms in the extended pub. All have large beds that recall Habitat’s Shaker range (substantial well-turned unpainted wood). Linen is Egyptian. Six rooms have monsoon showers and three have white roll-top baths. TVs are flat screen with Freeview. My wife liked the bathroom products by L’Occitane.
There is a big, well-lit dining area downstairs but the best areas are the “Library”, formerly the parlour of the old Bell Inn which is ideal if you have a party of ten or twelve, or Table 25, which is in a snug just opposite the bar. The hotel gets a lot of bookings for Table 25 from couples. The kitchen is open with a pizza oven and so is good theatre. Opposite is a small seating area where locals sit to use the free WiFi. The pub has a busy feel of lots of things going on, at different tempos, in different areas.
Decorating the whole ground floor area are excellent photos by Charlie Dailey, TV camerawoman and daughter of the owner.
Eating and drinking
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are taken anywhere in the downstairs area that suits you. Jeremy “Jerry” du Plessis the manager reckons that his pizzas (£10-£12) are the best you’ll taste. Certainly they look good coming out of the oven. Traditionalists may go for the “Gentleman’s Lunch” of cold rare rib of beef, string chips, salad and Colman’s English mustard. Puddings are £6 with the exception of the “Chef’s choice of cheese with bickies and homemade chutney” at £8. The use of “bickies” is deliberate. This is vernacular English food and proud of it.
None – take a walk and look for raptors hovering over the road kill. This is the English countryside.
Jerry du Plessis has run a number of English hotels. He knows what he’s doing. By comparison his staff seem very young.
Who stays there
Parents visiting their children at the University, tourists who realise they can combine city and country very easily, and a surprising number of business people because of the proximity to the airport. Women who leave their husbands behind and go for a girls' weekend shopping at the nearby Bicester fashion outlet village are also regulars.
Rooms are graded by size. Standards and Superiors are mainly in the cottages. House Doubles are in the main building and the best option.
Room rate includes a Continental breakfast and WiFi is free throughout the hotel.
- Backpackers / Students
- Families with younger children
- Great views / scenery
- Nature / wildlife
Pros & Cons
- Town and country in easy proximity
- Energetic new venture
- Close to the airport too
- If you’re sleeping in the cottages, you have to go outside to get back to your room at the end of supper
- A car is essential