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Inspector rating: 4/5
Finding a room in Burford can be touch and go. Even in the depths of winter, the so-called Gateway to the Cotswolds is heaving with tourists.
When we arrive on a Saturday afternoon, a bus is delivering its cargo - a group of wealthy Americans who look mightily impressed by what they've been brought to see. Who wouldn't be? The view of the High Street from the south, with the single-file, medieval triple-arched bridge over the River Windrush at the bottom, is one of the prettiest townscapes in Britain.
And I just hope the Americans get to look inside the church. Built around 1175, it's where Anthony Sedley carved his signature into the baptismal font when he was one of the 340 Levellers rounded up and imprisoned in the church by Cromwell during the Civil War. For their troubles, three of them were executed in the churchyard.
Tucked down Sheep Street are two sister hotels, The Bay Tree and The Lamb, both run by the Horton family. We're staying at The Lamb because the Bay Tree has been taken over for a wedding.
We established this at the time of booking, when we were also told that our room would come only with a shower. In a flurry of emails, I expressed the hope that a room with a bath might become available, and, sure enough, it comes to pass.
I think we've been upgraded. The bathroom has a window and lots of space. Frankly, you can't fault it: as English as toasted crumpets and lashings of strawberry jam.
If those Americans come calling, they'll feel as if they've checked into heaven. Make sure you inspect the corridor leading to the restaurant. It's the length of a couple of cricket wickets and so wonky that you wouldn't have to be Monty Panesar to make the ball spin. With bones like this, a building can't help but be ravishing.
The staff, too, are friendly and professional. A South African girl shows us to our room, then runs off to make sandwiches and a pot of tea, which we eat by the fire, before browsing in the nearby antiques centre. If the Lamb is pretty by day, it's positively seductive by night. The dining room has a gentle, romantic buzz about it - and the food's not bad either.
I start with beetroot carpaccio with apple and walnut beignet, followed by perfectly cooked lamb, which comes, oddly, with a wedge of liver and onions. My wife has salmon with braised cabbage and saffron potato and wishes there was more of it, which is annoying since it warrants a £4 supplement. Never mind. She minds the gap with pistachio souffle and chocolate sauce.
We sleep soundly and realise that in lesser hotels you'd be punished by being told breakfast is no longer available. But not here. It's just not that sort of place.