The Cotswold hotel where you can see an original Banksy, a dinosaur foot and drink £100 tequila shots

Businessman Matthew Freud's first foray into hospitality brings a blast of artistic creativity to Burford High Street — showcasing works of Banksy, Damien Hirst and Salvador Dali. SoGlos had a look around and found a hotel full of surprises.

By Emma Luther  |  Published
Matthew Freud has opened BULL in Burford as his first hotel.

Businessman Matthew Freud might be best known for his creative agency Freuds Group and global charity Goals House.

Not to mention being the great grandson of one of the founding fathers of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud.

But a new addition to his portfolio, the BULL hotel in Burford High Street, has proved such a success that he's already snapped up a second hotel, just down the road. 

Sister hotel, The Highway, is opening in July 2024 just a few doors down, bringing with it 11 bedrooms as well as a restaurant and spa.

Matthew, who splits his time between Burford and London, snapped up BULL, the Grade II listed building with 18 bedrooms, four years ago amid the chaos of the global pandemic.

Initially, he opened the doors of BULL quietly in late 2023, offering two-night stays and a host of activities, before revising its concept in 2024 to become a hotel and restaurant.

Now he wants it on locals' radars as a place to pop in for coffee, a glass of wine, lunch or some bar snacks. And he's keen to shed rumours that it's an exclusive private members' club.

The biggest wow factor is the art that graces the walls by artists none other than Banksy, Damien Hirst and Salvador Dali, as well as Matthew's niece Martha Freud.

But the building restoration itself is impressive with old beams leading the way through the nooks and crannies of the historic 15th century former coaching inn.

Bedrooms (with no televisions) are inviting and full of character with one adorned with stern portraits of Roman emperors gazing down on guests.

Matthew has created a hotel that feels homely and at ease with itself, even with big, bold artistic names on the walls. The relaxed feel extends to staff dressed in Nike trainers, jeans, T-shirt and apron.

It's also big on laid-back dining with not just one but three restaurants.

The largest, Horn, has space for 46 diners, offering an all-day a la carte menu for bookings and walk-ins.

Wild is an outdoor offering beneath a sandy coloured tent with an open fire and kitchen with cooking kit from filmmaker Guy Ritchie's firm, Cashmere Cave (and also showcased on Netflix's popular The Gentlemen series).

Dark and atmospheric Japanese restaurant, Hiro, completes the trio. It seats ten around an open kitchen to enjoy its 10-course tasting menu alongside a startling 6ft dinosaur leg tucked in the corner and a 90-million-year-old fish fossil on the wall.

From late April, there'll be a seasonal fourth option of Graze, an outdoor terrace with a bar, kitchen and pizza oven along with guest chefs from London for special events.   

Social spaces include a lounge, which serves up coffee in front of the fire or on a spectacular gold leaf coffee table. 

Vincent's bar is named after Matthew's adored late Labrador. Full of character, the bar is a homage to rare tequilas (£100 a shot, anyone?) and Japanese whiskies, as well as an array of English wines.

Down in the hotel's former safe, hidden behind a thick, historic door, lies a poker room and wine cellar, watched over by a huge prison mugshot of Frank Sinatra.  

But it's not just overnight stays, food and drink that's on offer. Creativity and learning are also celebrated at BULL.

Hotel guests can add on bespoke activities to their stay with everything from games of poker to kintsugi workshops and tequila tasting.

There are also holistic workshops with sound healing, and breathwork in a nearby yoga studio. A dark room is a work in progress for photo workshops using traditional cameras.  

Matthew also owns The Coach House, an old brewery building, that now is used for crafts workshops as well as meetings and as a space for Burford Literature Festival to host events.

The grounds of his own home, The Priory, once a retreat for monks and nuns, is now used for padel games and the chapel in his garden for singing workshops and weddings. 

His private cottage The Rectory has recently been refurbished for cinema nights.

Sales and events manager, Maria Gushchina, said: 'Matthew has a talent of bringing the right people around him. He has a creative mind and the ability to make things happen.

'Here, he's created a place to catch your breath, to relax and unwind. And he's made it welcoming and inclusive. We've created a social space where people can meet, discuss and be inspired.

'It's a passion project; the first hotel he's ever opened with the aim of creating something special. He pops in all of the time to curate it and keep an eye on it.'

His eldest son George Freud is now onboard at the hotel with a remit to 'uplevel' the space and hotel as it evolves into its first year of business.

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