We weren't the only ones to prick up our ears on hearing that, following a meticulous, 16-month restoration project, Carole Bamford's latest offering, The Fox, was ready to throw open its doors this summer. Sporting nature-inspired, rustic-luxe interiors and hyperlocal menus, the property bears all the hallmarks we've come to associate with the sustainability pioneer - Bamford's first Daylesford Organic Café and Farm Shop marks its 20th birthday this year - making it a shoo-in for those seeking a good place to go to ground within a couple of hours' drive of London
Nestled amid the rolling Gloucestershire fields and hedgerows, The Fox's Lower Oddington setting - all honey- and buttercream-hued limestone houses huddled around the pretty St Nicholas Church - can appear so utopian as to initially disarm the urban visitor ("I didn't pack enough stripes/florals!"; "Why am I the only one without a well-behaved working dog at heel?"). But the pub with rooms' warm hospitality and abundance of modern creature comforts promise to quickly put even the jitteriest of city escapees at ease.
The parlour, left, and a cosy corner of The Hedgerow bedroom.
In common with that of its 2013-opened sister property, The Wild Rabbit, in nearby Kingham, The Fox's ethos is one of championing the region's close-knit farming community and its associated heritage craftspeople - smiths, carpenters, wheelwrights. It is set apart, however, by a greater playfulness in its approach: stamped across the bar are the words "For fox sake"; and above the open kitchen pass, "Foxylicious"; topiary foxes roam the garden; there's a jumble of brightly coloured gymkhana rosettes overhead; and quirky artworks run rampant.
The food is - naturally - superlative, with menus that celebrate best-in-class ingredients from the farms at Daylesford Organic and Wootton estate. Throw in the subtle scent of those much-coveted Bamford toiletries, and you have a glorious Cotswolds stay from which you're sure to leave feeling at your bright-eyed and bushy-tailed best.
Country living gets a Zen makeover in a clutch of half a dozen individually designed and beautifully appointed bedrooms, their decor inspired by the surrounding countryside and designed to reflect rural habitats. Raw materials are showcased to winning effect, with glimpses of bronze, here and there, a nod to the area's equestrian history. Sumptuous natural linens and tactile soft furnishings in a pale, earthy palette are all of the finest pedigree.
Our room, the Masters, is up in the building's eaves, which has a towering vaulted ceiling and beams strong enough to swing from. The head of a handmade four-poster bed is framed on one side by a recess filled with chopped logs and, on the other, a pale-wood wardrobe, atop which sits a life-sized figurine of a friendly-looking bull terrier. Elsewhere, a pair of sculpted wood pigeons perch in a nook, while contemporary prints bring pops of colour.
The Wild Meadow bedroom, left, and bathroom.
The bathroom is big, with a magnificent freestanding roll-top tub and a full complement of Bamford products, including a little green bottle of headily perfumed bath salts.
Visiting in winter? Snag The Den. Split over two rooms, it has an open fireplace and a view over the walled garden to enjoy while toasting marshmallows. Travelling with cubs? Book the Hunting Lodge room, which comes with a king-sized bed and two twins.
What's for breakfast?
Farm-to-fork deliciousness. While the spelt sourdough with Daylesford creamy salted butter and strawberry jam was simple perfection, those looking for a more adventurous culinary start to the day might plump for the cinnamon crunch French toast with poached apricots and crème fraiche, or one of The Fox's brioche rolls, which come toasted and stuffed with the likes of portabella mushrooms, streaky bacon or smoked salmon.
Lunch and dinner?
An elevated pub menu is served in the bar and the garden-facing Saddle Room (and in the garden itself, too, weather permitting), alongside a menu of wood-fired sourdough flatbreads and pizzas. Start with the likes of wood-roast violet artichokes with salsa verde, or a fiery 'nduja Scotch egg with saffron aïoli, then move onto a main of orzo with courgette, mangetout, broccoli, broad beans, chervil and pea tendrils, or, for carnivores, perhaps a Wootton estate Barnsley chop with peas, gem lettuce, buttermilk and dill, and finish as though your horse has just come in at the races, with the Daylesford strawberries and vanilla cheesecake or an Aperol spritz jelly and raspberries.
Is there a bar?
It's the beating heart of The Fox, serving cocktails and craft beers (including an eponymous one), locally made ales (listed on a chalkboard) and a well-curated list of wines produced by independent vineyards. Grab a stool at the main oak bar, a seat at a table near the fire or hole up in The Tack Room and Parlour, tucked away in a quiet corner, all of which offer a cornucopia of prints and paintings to enjoy as you sip your "the one we don't talk about" house cocktail - a blend of vanilla vodka, yoghurt, pale sherry and passion fruit.
The Bottoms Up Bar - a signature Daylesford van - is parked out back, on the parasol-dotted lawn, and opens from Thursday to Sunday.
Out of hours, guests are welcome to call a number handily provided outside their bedroom door, should they be seized by a sudden thirst that requires slaking.
Free WiFi, a minibar, quality pod coffee machine, cutting-edge TV and audio, hairdryer, fine linen sheets, organic cotton bath robes and towels and high-spec mattresses, toppers and pillows.
What are the hotel's eco-credentials like?
Five star - Carole Bamford was an eco-activist long before Gwynnie had even met Brad, let alone founded Goop, remember - with the restoration having used reclaimed and natural, locally sourced materials across the board. The roof is insulated with sheep's wool from Daylesford, and food and drink come courtesy of both the farm and Wootton estate.
A wood-fired pizza, left, and the The Tack Room restaurant.
What about accessibility?
The bar and restaurant is wheelchair-accessible, but bedrooms are not.
What's the crowd like?
Mainly couples, both young and old, with glossy manes and dogs smart enough to figure out their way to the dog bowl in the garden.
Within a short walk I can find…
Daylesford Organic Farm - the mothership - is a 25-minute walk away, through some of England's most bucolic countryside, taking in Enid Blyton-esque forest glades and skirting open fields edged by honeysuckle and grazed by rare-breed cows and sheep. You can easily lose a whole day exploring the farm's retail, spa and dining options, and more if you dive into the calendar of experiences on offer, which include cookery and gardening classes led by expert tutors.
Things I should know
The Fox's logo (as with The Wild Rabbit's) was designed by Brooklyn-based British illustrator Hugo Guinness, whose many fans include Anna Wintour, Natalie Portman and Wes Anderson - Guinness has collaborated with Anderson on several films. Amuse yourself by playing a game of "spot the Guinness" around the pub and farm. Spoiler: his Daylesford Organic Fig Leaf Gin bottle is so beautiful, you just know you're going to have to buy one to take home.