THE owner of a boutique bed and breakfast in Oxford has apologised for the business's poor hygiene rating, claiming it was down to a 'mistake' and insisting standards remain high.

The Coach and Horses was given a score of one star, meaning 'major improvement necessary', after inspectors from Oxford City Council's health team paid a surprise visit to the St Clement's business on December 6.

A report following the inspection said the business, which is built on the site of an 18th century coaching inn, had not been able to supply its records to prove temperature checks on food were taking place.

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The inspector wrote the staff member they spoke with had been 'reluctant' to look for it and they therefore 'had no choice' but to reduce the rating to one.

Sylvia Saxby, who had run the B&B with her husband Mike until his death last year, explained she had been away in Mexico at the time and had forgotten to give her assistant manager the key to where the records were kept.

She said: "I wanted to get away over Christmas. It was my own mistake and I take full responsibility.

"You can see in the report though that everything else was found to be at a high standard."

Of the three categories used to assess businesses, food and hygiene was rated as 'very good', as was structural compliance, meaning the cleanliness of the building.

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Confidence in management was rated as 'little' due to the lack of paperwork.

Mrs Saxby said she had immediately requested a new inspection and was waiting for it to take place.

The Coach and Horses, which has eight rooms, is described on its website as the 'smartest, friendliest boutique bed & breakfast in Oxford'.

Talking about the quality of the food it states: "Start the day with a delicious freshly-squeezed orange juice, pressed apple juice or a steaming hot pot of fair trade ground coffee or tea, followed by a fresh seasonal fruit salad, a selection of cereals and freshly baked croissants with preserves and honey.

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"Our full English breakfast includes two sausages, two rashers of lean best back bacon, two organic free range eggs, tomatoes on the vine, chestnut mushrooms and Heinz baked beans with plenty of toast and butter."

Mrs Saxby said she went daily to get fresh ingredients for guests.

The B&B is rated five stars on review website TripAdvisor with glowing reviews from visitors.

One recent review praised the business as 'a real haven to return to after a long day sight seeing' with 'loads of choices' for breakfast.