Now the pub and hotel has been named Inn of the Year by the Good Hotel Guide.
Staff from Helen Browning’s Royal Oak will be presented with the Cesar award at the ‘Oscars of the hotel industry’ in London this afternoon.
Tim Finney, who runs the pub and hotel, told the Swindon Advertiser: “It’s a fantastic award for us and it has come after almost 15 years of hard work."
“It was a completely hopeless place before with burnt cars in the car park and it had no life, soul or charm. But we turned it around by having a good stable working team."
“It’s the best award we can get in our view. It’s down to customers who have written to the Good Hotel Guide and said they loved it."
"We think we’re part of the entertainment business. Hospitality to us is making people feel better when they leave than they did when they arrived.”
The pub and its 12 hotel rooms are set among 1500 acres of farmland. Guests can even book to stay in a cottage or on an exclusive wild camp site in a meadow.
Helen Browning’s business runs the farm so most items on the menu are produced by its farmers.
The meat, milk, honey, nuts and fruit served at the pub come straight from the farm. Even wheat produced on the surrounding land is used to make its bread and pastries.
The Royal Oak has its own farm shop in the garden of the pub which sells even more produce.
Guests can also meet cows and pigs on a farm safari and enjoy the scenery.
The venue has been described as splendidly wholesome, characterful and a champion of all that is organic by the Good Hotels Guide.
While most hospitality businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic, Finney described the period as therapeutic for the business.
He added: “It gave us thinking time and time to modify what we do. We refurbished our menus and catering vehicles and opened a shop. We delivered food to 150 people in Swindon in lockdown."
“It allowed us to recharge our batteries and reset our mindset.”
Helen Browning was appointed an OBE in 1998 for her services to organic farming. She turned the Wiltshire Downs land, which is rented from the Church of England, into an organic farm.
But Helen Browning’s Chop House restaurant in Swindon closed in June last year because of the pandemic.
The Good Hotel Guide has been around since 1978 and recommends readers the best hotels.