Live like Kings

A seriously good hotel was always been the one thing that Cirencester really lacked (apart from decent mobile reception, more parking places and a Maccers in the high street), so it was a rather momentous occasion when the Kings Head opened slap bang in the middle of the Market Place.

I was lucky enough to get a sneaky-peak behind the scenes while the building works were in progress and a bomb site would be a generous description. The attention to detail and preservation as the owners found mosaics, old stone walls and ancient wood beams was admirable and phenomenally expensive when they could have taken the easier, cheaper option. It required big vision and Mark Booth did the town proud.

I’d been to the Kings Head for drinks, coffees, lunches and the like, but I’d never stayed the night. So I needed an excuse as I only live 20 minutes away.

The wonderful Cirencester Business Awards were the perfect reason as the dinner was next door in the Corn Hall, I was going to be very drunk and it was going to be a real treat to stumble upstairs to bed. So I booked a room. Woo hoo!

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The day arrived at last and I checked in. All very easy and a lady showed me the way to Room 219 down a long winding corridor with slightly uneven floor (which I loved, as it made me think that this building had history).

Unlike most hotels where the rooms are all fairly similar, every room in the Kings Head is different because of the architecture of the old building . So I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Room 219.

Door opened and bosh, hey presto, there she is. A pretty cool, lantern windowed monster of a room with a big old bed bedecked with endless cushions (that women love and men feel unnecessary) and a very cool en-suite bathroom behind the bedroom wall.

Here’s a picture with one of those groovy filters that make it look cooler.

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Wooden floor in the bathroom (they’re fake but you can’t believe they are), with a lovely big bath, open shower and double basin. Time to run a bath…

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In the old days, baths would have a hot tap and a cold tap with an H and a C or red and blue. These days, modern hotels choose fittings where running a bath requires an engineering degree and a large dose of luck.

I looked at the two knobs.

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One was for on/off (I think) and the other for temperature (but how hot is 28 or 48 degrees?). There was a shower attachment also lurking there. Mmm, that was a worry. If I turned the knob one way, I’m guessing the bath would run. But spin the roulette wheel the other way and I could get a soaking. I turned it slowly and bingo, I got lucky. Then adjusting the temperature was a real faff (having the depress a button I think) and all rather confusing. All too clever for its own good. I might start a BRING BACK TAPS campaign.

Anyway dear reader, you’ll be greatly relieved to know I did run the bath and it was very relaxing and a good pre-curser to the chaos that ensued.

The room was big, spacious and beautifully decorated in very cool furniture and I was in a good mood. I won’t lie to you. I did a little leap across the room in my boxer shorts. A bit like Billy Elliot. I laughed at myself in the mirror. Idiot.

So. I got all togged up my black tie outfit and there on the coffee table were the ingredients for a gin and tonic. My fave. I was delighted to see that the gin was one of our Rockers – Sibling Distillery.

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And they were rather sweet dinky miniature bottles – they were surprisingly hard to open, but I was thirsty and I’m strong when I need to be, so along with some posh Fever Tree tonic, I made my G&T. I’m normally a fan of lime (or lemon at worst) with my G&T, but shock horror, they had oranges. WTF. Oranges?! But a slice of orange it was and it tasted surprisingly good actually.

I was ready to rock and headed downstairs to the bar. It was heaving. Other awards-goers in black tie, locals with tattooed arms and those funny hole-y earnings (mmm) and a mix of drinkers. It’s a good sign I think of a diverse customer base.

The dinner and awards itself were a riot. We had a table of ten local business folk and we were honoured to have multiple winner and Rocker, Tom Wharton from Barrington Ayre/ShirtSmart. As well as scooping Retailer of the Year, he took over my mantle of Cirencester Ambassador of the Year. Much merriment ensued and the obvious jokes about Ferrero Rocher and receptions, etc.

This is me and the new Ambassador, looking fairly merry…

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When the awards finished, we headed back to the Kings Head bar for a few more hours of imbibing. I believe shots were drunk, B52s all round and lots of chat, banter, hugging, trying to get bar presence and all round happiness.

I was glad of my room upstairs and felt rather smug as I got in the lift and headed down the corridor to my boudoir.

Once I’d taken ten minutes to get all the cushions off the bed (joke), I slumped into the very soft sheets for a night in the Land of Nod. I slept like a baby (who’d replaced his milk with Sambuca).

Six hours later and the world wasn’t so good. The room was so light, I thought I had died and was at the gates of St Peter. In fact, I was in hell with rather a minging hangover. This was my view…

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The lovely big lantern windows at the top of the room didn’t have their curtains closed and I remembered I couldn’t work out how to shut them the night before. So there I was in the lightest room in the world and I needed sunglasses.

Time to take the shower for a test drive. And it was very hot and soothing and helped heal the pain, along with a couple of Nurofen.

I chucked all my clothes into my bag, dragged it back down the corridor and headed downstairs for some proper medicine – a Full English. Definitely one of my favourite things in the world, besides a roast chook or a decent rare burger, a Full English is a good test of a restaurant/hotel’s catering department.

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I grabbed the papers, sat rather forlornly amongst the rather perky couples and ordered my salvation. Ten minutes later it arrived and it was good and it filled me up. 8/10 I would say.

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On top of the cooked brecky, there was a good spread of cold meats, cereals, juices, etc, but the Full English has literally filled up this Englishman.

It was time to return home to the (unsympathetic) Mrs C and my three enchanting children. I’d had a fantastic stay at the Kings Head. The room was really very, very comfy and cool. The service was great and the food and drink had not let me down. I was a happy bunny.

Next time, I need to try out the spa, which looks dead posh.

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