The Swan Inn in Swinbrook has been crowned 'Dining Pub of the Year' by the Good Pub Guide for the second year in a row.

The awards are given every year by the guide's editors in a range of categories, with The Swan Inn selected as one of the very best pubs in the UK because of its consistent excellence. 

And the bantam chickens that roam the pub’s gardens have another reason to cluck, as the inn with 11 rooms has also been awarded two AA Rosettes for culinary excellence. 

The pub is owned by Steve Cook and Archie Orr-Ewing – who also owns The Kings Head Inn in Bledington - whose wife Nicola came up with the idea of the blossoming bantam family.

Stephen Pitt is the general manager and he and Mr Cook have been running hospitality venues for a combined 60 years.

The kitchen team is led by Hubert Kosmala whose roast is renowned in the area due to the use of great local produce as well as a rich gravy made from a stock reduced for over 12 hours.

Oxford Mail: Award winning pub - The Swan at Swinbrook. Pictured is Head Chef Hubert Kosmala (blue top) and Manager Stephen Pitt (white top).
Picture by Ed Nix

Mr Pitt said: “Hubert deserves all of the plaudits, it has been a pleasure to work with him.

“In these times it is great to have something to celebrate, our sister pub, The Kings Head Inn, in Bledington has also just picked up an award for County Dining Pub of the Year for Gloucestershire by the Good Pub Guide as well.”

During the lockdowns, The Swan Inn has kept going by staging various pop-up takeaway events. The garden was also expanded to seat 80 comfortably and an outside bar was added.

It is a popular haunt for walkers and locals while its bed and breakfast rooms host guests from across the globe keen to visit Oxford and Burford.

Sitting near a 13th century bridge on the Gloucestershire-Oxfordshire border, the building has been used as a set for Downton Abbey with the production company replacing the pub’s sign to give it a more period look. 

It also once belonged to the famous Mitford sisters, a family of writers and political activists who grew up and lived in Swinbrook. 

The Dowager Duchess of Devonshire – ‘Debo’ was the last surviving Mitford sister and while her sisters were desperate to escape 'Swinebrook' as they called it – Debo loved her Cotswold childhood and had very deep attachments to the magical Windrush enclave including the pub. 

The team are now preparing for a special event when Michelin two-starred chef Phil Howard, previously of London dining haunts, Bibendum, Harvey’s and now at Chelsea’s Elystan Street, will be joining the kitchen team for a night on August 3. The dinner with a wine paired with every course has already sold out.