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Little Red Lock | Luxury Self-Catering Cottage | Oxfordshire

Little Red Lock

Claydon, Banbury, Oxfordshire, The Cotswolds, UK

A kind of alchemy happens when city folk fall in love and up sticks from the city in search of a secret country bolthole. Filled to the beams with English eccentricity and encircled by a wooden picket fence, this unique canal-side home near Banbury in the Cotswolds is a perfect example. Little Red Lock's waterfront setting on the Oxford canal oozes tranquillity, while inside its brick walls, a carnival-like celebration of eclectic rustic charm awaits.


25 years ago, a London couple with two small children decided to plot their grand escape to the Oxfordshire countryside. Their mission was to find a home as isolated as it was inspiring, so this old canal forge near Banbury was the dream project. Slowly incorporating water and electric, Little Red Lock underwent a Cinderella-style transformation into a warm and welcoming family home, today offering luxury self-catering escapes to others in search of a chic waterside getaway. From the first coffee poured from the stove top to the last evening spent toasting marshmallows on the embers of the fire pit, families are ensured a charming stay.


In true English country home style, copper pans hang above a clotted cream coloured Aga and heavy curtains frame bucolic views as far as the eye can see. Button tufted chesterfields and ikat patterned armchairs impart a sense of warmth, alongside the woodburner and underfloor heating concealed beneath herringbone terracotta tiles. Upstairs, Andrew Martin furnishings and faded Persian rugs sit on wood floors salvaged from an old mansion. Two of the double bedrooms sit beneath beams in the eaves and share a shower room and rolltop bathroom, while the third resides in the ground floor extension (with a smaller, second kitchen) beside a rainfall shower room with WC.


Mornings are best spent plotting the day's adventures with a generous breakfast spread laid out on the picnic table by the water's edge; the mooing cows or odd passing narrowboat your only neighbours. The market town of Banbury (six miles south) is a higgledy-piggledy affair with narrow alleyways, independent shops and a lively farmers' market on Thursdays and Saturdays. Join locals for sunny afternoons down by the canal, a wicker basket stuffed with chilled rosé and whatever delicious cheeses the market had on offer. Back at Little Red Lock, take a twilight kayak cruise down the canal or dip in the hot tub, before finishing with supper served straight from the Aga.

The Facts

  • SleepsUp to 6 guests
    From £1,950 per week, £1,495 per short break
  • Alternative group optionUp to 2 guests
  • Bedrooms and bathroomsThere are two double bedrooms on the first floor, along with a shower room and bathroom which features a rolltop with shower attachment. The ground floor features the third double bedroom plus a wet room with rainfall shower and WC.
    View bedrooms
  • FeaturesHot tub, fire pit, kayaks and life jackets for the canal
  • PetsTwo well-behaved dogs are welcome
    Each pet is charged at £60 per stay
  • Arrivals and departuresArrival Day: Friday or MondayArrival Time: 3pmDeparture Time: 10amTimes may vary due to Covid-19 requirements, please refer to your booking.
  • FamilyYes, children are very welcome. A cot and highchair are provided.
  • PracticalitiesThere is undesignated parking for several cars 500 yards from the house by way of a footpath along the canal, however please note this is not exclusive to guests. Arrivals will be picked up canal-side by the house manager and taken to the property on the owner´s narrowboat. There is also a track for emergency vehicle access only up to the house. The main kitchen features a Smeg oven and hob as well as a coal-fired Aga, full-size fridge-freezer, microwave and Nespresso coffee machine with milk frother. A second link kitchen (with oven, hob, microwave and under-counter fridge) joins the main kitchen to the extension and is great for couples or grandparents within the group, leading to a double bedroom and shower room. There is a washing machine and dryer on the landing. The garden is enclosed, ideal for families with dogs and children. Please watch young children by the water.
  • Homestay includesWelcome hamper of fresh local produce, luxury bed linen and towels, boardgames, kayaks and life jackets, firewood and kindling to get you started...House book - your property and destination guideDiscover more little luxuries
  • Additional extrasA handpicked selection of unique experiences are available at this property.
  • Eco-friendlyAir source heat pump
  • Other informationProperty terms and conditionsFrequently asked questionsCheck mobile signalRecommend to a friend

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Toast marshmallows on the fire pit and regale the day´s adventures
This luxury hot tub retreat is perfect for fun-loving families

Prices & Availability


The historical market town of Banbury has been around for donkey´s years, but has more recently become a chic hangout spot thanks to its proximity to destinations such as Aynhoe Park, Soho Farmhouse and Wilderness festival.

View on maps


Getting there

  • On the Map The house enjoys a secluded waterside position near the village of Claydon, which is six miles north of Banbury and the northernmost village in Oxfordshire
  • By Car The main transport link is the nearby A423 Southam Road, giving easy access to the M40, with a journey time around an hour and a half from London
  • By Train The nearest station is in Banbury, with regular connections UK-wide
  • By Air Birmingham airport is the closest airport, with domestic and international flights

From the owner

“When we married and had our two children we decided to migrate to the Oxfordshire countryside. The more challenging the property, the better.”

From the owner

We bought our little canal-side home as a getaway and, on purchasing, it had no electricity or water. The house was powered by means of single solar panels, 12-volt lights and a 1960's Lister generator that had to be manually wound to start. For water, the house used a well, which you can still see in the lounge.

We kayaked on the canal whenever the sun was out, however cold it may have been, and in winter, breaking through the thin ice on the canal.

Then one day, we decided to do the place up. It was complicated to start, without easy access and with permission required for both electricity and water from the surrounding farmers it was a challenge, however, they were all very helpful. Planning permission took ages to come through.

The vibrant colours and the rustic charm have all been designed in. Today, it's a very special place. Heated floors, insulated entirely, lovely old floorboards bought to suit the space. Furniture was bought over the years whenever we liked a piece, and over time it developed slowly into what it is today. Club chairs were sourced from France, the others from Andrew Martin and Timothy Oulton, and the hand-built kitchens were created to suit the space as the walls are not perfect (the house was once a cowshed and a forge)! We like to think of it all as perfectly imperfect.

The Mamas

Owner recommendations

Live like a local, discovering the best hidden gem restaurants, walks and attractions during your holiday in Banbury with an insider’s perspective.

Burton Dassett Hills, Southam
To Do

Burton Dassett Hills, Southam

It´s hard to imagine the scene in what is now southern Warwickshire 190 million years ago; at that time a shallow subtropical sea teeming with Jurassic life covered much of the area. Today walkers will find stunning views over the rolling hills as well as glimpses of the ancient Jurassic world in rusty soils embedded with fossils.

Fishing at Clattercote Reservoir, Claydon
To Do

Fishing at Clattercote Reservoir, Claydon

This pretty and secluded reservoir is surrounded by greenery and a wooden walkway leading to 122 jetty-style pegs. Popular with weekend anglers, there is plenty of space for pleasure anglers mid-week. Catch carp, bream, trench, roach and pike up to 26lbs!

The Brasenose Arms, Cropredy
To Eat

The Brasenose Arms, Cropredy

Three miles south, see how three old cottages have been transformed into a traditional 17th century public house that has been serving locals for over 350 years. The pub has built a reputation for its excellent vegetarian dishes.

Stowe, Buckinghamshire
To See

Stowe, Buckinghamshire

See gardening on the grandest scale at this Georgian National Trust site. Visitors can look forward to picture-perfect views, winding paths, lakeside walks and lost temples, with landscaping reflecting the changing seasons. Full of hidden meaning, the gardens were created as an earthly paradise and still cast their spell today.

Guest Testimonials

We have just returned from the wonderful Little Red Lock and wanted to say thank you for a brilliant stay. The property is truly amazing - such a special place where we felt at home (and a little jealous) immediately. While the weather was temperamental we managed to make the most of all the generous facilities, including the kayaks, hot tub, bbq and of course, the house. Thanks again for a lovely stay - a much-needed break with friends!

We loved our stay at Little Red Lock. From arriving at the house by boat, the red tractor in the garden our boys loved playing on, to watching he canal boats go up and down the lock in front of the house, to the house itself. My 4-year-old said it was the best holiday ever and wants to know when we can return!

A fantastic getaway, thank you to the owners for sharing their lovely home with us. The attention to detail and focus on comfort in the design and decoration of the home is amazing, we felt very welcome and comfortable.

Unique extras

Enhance your stay with a unique experience from one of our preferred suppliers. From professional in-house chefs to luxury at-home spa therapists and wine delivered to the door, see what’s on offer for your bespoke escape.


Below are a selection of features in which Unique Homestays has appeared. If you would like to feature the property in an editorial capacity, please contact the marketing team on +44 (0)1637 882014.

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Disclaimer: These particulars, whilst believed to be accurate, are set as a guideline so should not be relied upon as a statement of fact. The photographs show aspects of the property at the time they were taken and it should not be assumed that the property remains precisely as displayed. If there are points of particular importance that need clarifying before you book, please contact us.

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