From next week, we can meet indoors, hug (breaking news!) and have some long overdue good times with our nearest and dearest.
And frankly, who wants to be standing at the stove, clearing plates and filling glasses when you can enjoy the hospitality of our fabulous local eateries, and give them the much-needed business they need.
Whether you’re meeting friends or family we’re expecting laughs, tears, screams and squeals… so why not book a private room where you can catch up, uninhibited by the horrified looks of your fellow diners?
We’ve scoured Oxon and Bucks for all manner of private dining rooms to suit every size of group and occasion, whether it’s a sit-down affair, stand-up buffet or full-blown cocktail and canape do.
From May 17th, you’ll be able to book private dining for six or more people or more than that number from two households, or up to 30 people for events such as wedding parties, funeral wakes and ‘standalone life-cycle events’… whatever they may be.
When we’re allowed larger gatherings from June 21st you’ll want to have these places booked up well ahead. You’d better get booking…
The Five Arrows, Waddesdon
Got a fairly sizeable clan that goes way beyond the two household/max of six rule? Come June 21, you can get up to 40 of you together in the Rothschild Room at The Five Arrows, a two AA Rosette hotel. There’s plenty of space for the adults to chat around the table while the children duck in and out of the throng. You can always take them for a scamper over Waddesdon Manor’s grounds if they need a pre or post meal run about.
A modern Indian and British fusion restaurant by Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar in the unusual setting of a 16th-century country coaching inn is a memorable setting for a special get-together. There are a range of areas to hire right up to The Courtyard Room, which can host up to 40 guests. Expect period features like wooden beams and a huge Inglewood fireplace alongside the delish and Insta-tastic plates of food.
The Royal Oak, Marlow
Not so much a private dining room, but more of a private teepee out the back in an enclosed part of the garden. The (entirely waterproof!) teepee accommodates up to 30 people and the minimum food order is for 15. There’s a fire pit for warmth and adaptable finger food menus to suit your needs. Hire costs start at £100. Go, go, go!
The Crown, Granborough
Just south of Winslow is The Crown, and it boasts two fab rooms – the snug Crown Room that can seat up to 20 and the Oak Room that will take 40, depending on how many great aunts you’re thinking of inviting. There’s a lovely garden and play area out back too that will be a saving grace if you’re bringing the minis.
Crazy Bear, Beaconsfield
If you have a need to be a little flash (and after the year we’ve had, don’t we all?), you can always book one of Crazy Bear’s three dining spaces: The Crystal Room can seat up to 40, The Library, 32 and The Hunting Lodge can take 22. Probably best for older or teenage children as the abundance of glass and velvet may send parents of younger children into a paroxysm of anxiety.
The Bull on Bell St, Henley
The Bull is one of the last venues to close in Henley come the small hours, so if your family or mates are party animals – this is your place. There are two spaces available to hire – The Brewery and The Conservatory. Both take up to 30 guests and the former is suited to a seated meal while the latter is a bright and airy space that works well for buffet-style affairs.
Killingworth Castle, Woodstock
Only last year did the team add the private dining area that’s perfect for a family reunion. The organic menus have earned three stars from the Soil Association and the pub has two AA Rosettes and a clutch of awards. Should be a cut above when it comes to seasonal and imaginative food.
Two One Five, Summertown, Oxford
If you’re a family of gastros, then this 3 AA Rosette restaurant is just the ticket – it’s a foodie’s delight. Book the upstairs rooms for some peace and quiet to enjoy some seriously fabulous food. Combine with a potter around the increasingly chi chi area of north Oxford with it’s art gallery, coffee shops, boutiques and wine bar.
The Double Red Duke, Clanfield
Only in a place as gorgeous as this would you find a ‘Feasting Room’. But a feasting room is on offer, no less, and it seats 12, which should just be enough to squeeze in yourselves, the grandparents, your favourite sibling, and their kids. The food here is all provided by way of former Hawksmoor chef Richard Turner, so expect good things.
The Fleece, Witney
The multi-award-winning Fleece in Witney, alongside its sharing plates menu, incredible Sunday roasts and 10 bedrooms, also boasts a private dining room that can accommodate 8-24 people. It’s been recently refurbished and sits apart from the pub, just across the driveway, so you can let the children loose without any fear they’ll end up underneath some other diners’ table.
The Crown, Playhatch
Deep in South Oxfordshire, just on the borders of Berkshire is Playhatch and the charming 16th-century inn that is The Crown. The Barn – separate to the main pub – can seat up to 40 should you wish to invite all the troops, or for more intimate family meals, there is a space that comfortably seats up to 14. There’s a children’s menu and plenty of space outside to run off some energy.
The Lion, Wendlebury
A gorgeous honey-stoned pub just outside of Bicester, the Lion can has a smart dining room for up to 16 called The Lavender Room. For larger groups, ‘The Cottage’ and ‘The Barn’ are also available seating 30, up to 60, respectively on separate tables. You can choose a set menu for larger parties or order off the a la carte for The Lavender Room.
This multi-award-winning eatery is all about serving local and seasonal food in the unpretentious setting of what was an 18th century pub. There’s an area that can be separated off for 18 diners or a private room that accommodates 12. The window-lined sunroom overlooks the pretty garden and countryside beyond, and menus for each event are created bespoke, in consultation with the event organiser. As regulars on James Martin’s Saturday Kitchen, you may already be familiar with the food of chefs Ryan and Liam Simpson-Trotman. Now you can taste it!
JUST OVER THE BORDER…
The White Oak, Cookham
The two AA Rosette White Oak in Cookham has a few options for private hire – but the most family friendly is the light and airy, self-contained dining room that can seat up to 10. It’s a children-friendly gastropub too so no need to feel awkward too if you’re dragging in some reluctant offspring. Need more seats? Well, the main Oak Room can sit up to 70.
The Hind’s Head, Bray
The Vicar’s Room may not sound like the venue for a rip-roaring gathering but with a vast dining table hewn from a single trunk of oak, blood red walls and gold chandeliers depicting famous queens, the Vicar’s Room is anything but reserved. There’s seating for up to 20 guests and sumptuous set menus – no death by parma ham-wrapped chicken here.