Close to the centre of busy Banbury town is this pretty thatched coaching inn, owned by Tina and Paul Laird. Recently refurbished with oak flooring, the original stone walls hark back to its beginnings while two attractive coal-effect gas burners (no logs allowed because of the thatch!), one snug in the old inglenook, lend warmth. At the rear of the pub is a large stone terrace with weathered oak seating for 60. The team is friendly and well-informed, serving a refreshing choice of old ales; they are also great on whiskies and wines by the glass. As for the menus, you’ll find pigeon breasts with asparagus tips and wild mushrooms, Spring lamb rump with dauphinoise potatoes, and an array of super puddings including a truly indulgent white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake. Cheeses are served with homemade chutneys and port jelly. Upstairs and to the rear are three very smart bedrooms, with feature wallpapers and characterful beams, swish bathrooms and superb French-style beds. All overlook the courtyard, all are perfectly peaceful.