The Ragged Cot is a gorgeous country house out in the rustic countryside near Cirencester. There is little surrounding the hotel, but that’s rather the point – you come here to escape the city, not long for it.
On approach, you notice first the garden out front, with its cushioned seats and long wooden tables. You also spot The Shed, the small cafe-bar that used to be, erm, a shed. There’s ample on-site parking, and another garden that laps the back of the restaurant. Between the pub and the rooms, there’s also a private residents’ garden tucked away off the main hallway. It’s the perfect spot to sit and read a book in the sunset without interruption and was quiet the whole length of our stay.
Arriving at the inn, we headed past the main pub bar and to the reception for check-in. While cosy, with seating set into the wall and a trendy rustic ambience, there was no urgency to the proceedings. We waited a while before someone came to check us in, despite the fact two members of staff from the bar spotted us and assured us we’d be seen soon. Without the benefit of a clock, or indeed any distraction except taking in the decor, it felt like we waited a good 10-15 minutes. While that’s sometimes the case in a busy city centre hotel (and irritating even then), it’s not what you’d expect from an otherwise quiet country inn. It struck us, at that point, that if they had two members of staff on the bar, they could probably spare someone to check us in too.
Once we were seen to, though, check-in was exceptionally fast (again making us wonder why it couldn’t be handled at the main bar during quieter times). We were then led to our room on the first floor.
Our room wasn’t at all huge but it was well equipped and had nice furnishings and a tasteful wetroom. Other, larger rooms are available, if required. Mod cons include a decent flat screen television mounted on the wall, a hairdryer, tea and coffee making facilities and decent free wifi. The decor is described as shabby chic on the website, and we think that’s pretty accurate – there’s a tasteful and contemporary flair, but with a rustic edge.
However, in the interests of balance, there were a few little details where things needed to be ironed out. For example, the toilet needed some bleach down it to remove some of the limescale that had formed at the bottom. Likewise, the kettle also needed descaling, and the sticker on the plug said it hadn’t been checked in several years. That was a little disconcerting but I guess sometimes when you’ve been running a small hotel for a long time it’s these little details that slip. I think if these minor gripes were fixed then the rooms themselves would be great – if indeed petite.
The restaurant, however, was pleasantly surprising. Seated in the corner of the airy restaurant, overlooking the rear garden with its flowers, trees and bushes, we were able to catch the last hour of the summer sunshine. As we had come on a Sunday, last orders were rather early, but we weren’t rushed once we arrived. Luckily, we pre-empted the last-minute rush, and had our pick of everything from the specials and a la carte menus (a few of those who arrived later were told the kitchen had run out of some of the more popular items, as you’d expect near to closing on a Sunday).
We were given exemplary service, and we quickly realise that so too were all the other diners. This was not preferential treatment, but rather the standard of training that the servers had received. We generally felt spoiled, which is my preferred manner of service when dining in plush surroundings like these.
For my starter, I had a prawn and avocado salad which came with cucumber skins and a side of marie rose sauce. Prawn cocktail is of course a vintage classic, and is often done poorly. But to do it well is a sign of achievement, so I was pleased when it arrived both beautifully presented and tasty. The portion size can only be described as epic.
My colleague had a chicken liver parfait which although it had a good half an inch of fat on the top was rather delicious once he got underneath it. The crunchy crispbread served with it was also fantastic and well suited to complement the rich smoothness of the parfait.
Following these hearty starters, we were served our (also hearty) main courses. My skin-on whole sea bass was so large I could barely finish it. It was only served with bak choi and freshly roasted garlic, so I was surprised that I couldn’t eat more, but it was deceptively filling. There was no need for sides.
On colleague tried the last of the Sunday dinner roast chicken. Like my own entree, his was huge, with half a medium-sized bird on his plate and all the trimmings. I snatched a taste and the chicken was succulent and well seasoned with a crisp brown skin. Certainly one for the traditionalists and lovers of the classic bird.
Although full, and not known for a sweet tooth, I was talked into attempting dessert. For a change of scenery, we chose to eat in the gardens at a private table surrounded by tall hedges. This way, we got to see the setting sun while eating our cheese board and raspberry sorbet. The surroundings were delicious but the desserts themselves certainly didn’t disappoint. The cheeseboard was giant-sized, and easily enough for two to share. There was a wide selection of cheese and fruit and some local chutney. We could have had that twice. Retired to the gardens, we could slowly pick over our fromage feast while watching the blushing skies darken. We also tried the summer berry sorbet, which acted as a cool and fresh palate cleanser.
We had a satisfying night’s sleep in the luxurious beds. We slept with the window open to enjoy the fresh air and woke early, refreshed and ready for the day ahead. Thankfully, the breakfast was great and as filling as dinner the night before – a boon, for sure, since we had a long car-ride home. However, I was surprised at the lack of vegetables on the menu, the lack of a vegetarian option, and the lack of fresh fruit at the cold breakfast bar. There was, though, plenty of cereal if you wanted that. Overall, offering some fresh fruits and maybe some more vegetables in the breakfast would have made for a perfect and well-balanced start, but we weren’t going to complain about a jumbo helping of eggs, bacon and sausage! Bu
Overall, I would highly recommend The Ragged Cot. I think that once they have seen this review and neatened up those little edges, it will be the perfect countryside retreat. It was exceedingly quiet, the restaurant was fantastic, and we had a wonderful night sleep. Highly, highly recommended.
The Ragged Cot Inn, Cirencester Road, Minchinhampton GL6 8PE / 01453 884643 / firstname.lastname@example.org.