The Maytime Inn is situated only less than half a mile off the A40 or B4047 yet it feels like you are in another world. The river Windrush meanders gently through the beautiful countryside a stones throw from the Inn which dates back to the 17th Century and in times gone by was a coaching inn with its own Smithy. Owner Dominic Wood tells us what attracted him to the Maytime and why he has such a passion for Gin.
Could you tell us a bit about how you got into the hospitality industry.
I have always worked in pubs from as soon as I was old enough to do so. I enjoy the variety working in hospitality offers and each day can bring something new.
What attracted you to the Maytime Inn?
The opportunity came up for me to get my hands on The Maytime just after I left university. I was originally looking to open up a Country House Hotel with a friend, which unfortunately didn’t happen, but I still wanted to do it alone.
The Maytime was the first place I found on Google – I knew I wanted a place in the Cotswolds and it was the first property that came up.
When I saw it, I thought the property had fantastic potential. I saw the opportunity to make my own mark by taking it on as a long term project.
Can you tell us how you plan your menu?
The Maytime’s menu reflects the style of the place: simple and unfussy but interesting and of high quality. The home-made pub food uses locally sourced ingredients and meals are cooked fresh to order. We focus on flavour and do not mess around too much with showmanship on the plate. We take a more simplistic approach to food and let it do the talking.
A pub/restaurant is only as good as the people who run it – what do you look for when recruiting new staff?
A good work ethic and enthusiasm for what we’re doing can’t be beaten. I want the whole team to be passionate about what they do and aim to provide a relaxed environment that is friendly and inviting. Loving gin is also high on the list of requirements!
You stock an impressive selection of Gin, how long have you been an enthusiast and how do you choose which ones to stock?
I’ve really loved gin for as long as I’ve been legal. There’s such diversity in the drink, and I love the resurgence in popularity it’s having at the moment. We have 85 brands now, and it’s great because we’re a freehouse, which means we can and do buy whatever we want from whoever we want. It gives us the freedom to have a really diverse selection. Gin is also such an available product in that you do not have to spend a fortune as a customer to enjoy a variety of flavours, styles and qualities of gin.
Do you involve yourself/The Maytime with the local community?
As much as we can, the community in Asthall is pretty tiny as we only have 33 houses in the village, and some of these are holiday lets, but we host all the village at Christmas time for an evening which brought a lot of people together who do not normally have any interaction. This is great and helps to strengthen the community and The Maytime’s place in it. The local parish also hold their meeting here now and the car park has become the home for the new village defibrillator which we also hosted the training day for. We encourage the village to use us as a meeting space and heart of the village.
It has been a massive learning curve but it’s great to hear the feedback from regulars who have been coming since we opened and who say it keeps getting better and better.
In your opinion what makes a guest room special and keep guests coming back.
Our rooms are not the biggest but they are all refurbished to a very high standard and are functional for what most people use us for. I think it’s important to remember the heritage of the pub, it would be a shame to forget that and there’s too many pubs that are becoming standardised. It’s called the Maytime as the old owners were called May and Tim, and I thought that was a nice touch so we kept the name. Before that it was called the Three Horseshoes so we based the bedrooms on that theme. We have the Hunting room; Sadler’s room; Tack room; Farriers room; Boot room; and the Yard and Groom room. We really focused on extremely comfortable beds and high quality linen in the bedroom to coincide with functional, luxurious, designer bathrooms for the wow factor.
What makes a room truly special in my opinion is the experience as a whole and how it all ties in together from a warm welcome to great food, drinks and service all aided by a few nice touches like complimentary homemade shortbread in the rooms, fresh milk in place of UHT and high quality soaps in the bathrooms. There is no point have great rooms if you serve average food and provide bad service. The rooms set a standard that the whole establishment must match or try to better.
Lastly do you have any other plans in the pipeline?
We have renovated the garden in 2015, and we came third in the best beer garden in the UK competition by SME Insurance. That was our last major project and it really extended the garden – we put in an outdoor bar and extended the seating from about 20 to 120 people. I have just moved out of the pub and we are now in the process of turning the space upstairs, where I used to live, into staff accommodation. That’s the next expansion because due to our location we really struggle to get staff in and keep them. The Cotswolds is an expensive place to live and people that live around here generally don’t want to work in hospitality. We have to provide the accommodation to get the good staff. As we get busier and busier we can’t survive on that core management team anymore, we have to expand on our staff. After that we will see, but we are running out of space now.