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Little Red Lock | Luxury Self-Catering Cottage | Oxfordshire

Little Red Lock

Claydon, Banbury, Oxfordshire, 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.



Three decades 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 traditional country home style, copper pans hang amid brickwork and beams while heavy curtains frame bucolic views in the farmhouse-style kitchen. Button tufted chesterfields and ikat armchairs impart a sense of warmth, alongside the underfloor heating concealed beneath herringbone terracotta tiles. Upstairs, Andrew Martin furnishings and faded Persian rugs cover floors salvaged from an old mansion; two of the bedrooms sit beneath beams in the eaves, whilst the other resides in the ground floor extension with its own kitchen. Most who come to this scholarly love nest on the Oxford canal stay put all week long on England’s finest waterway.


Mornings are best spent plotting 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 higgle-piggle affair, with narrow alleyways, independent shops, and a lively farmers' market on Thursdays and Saturdays. Join locals for 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 a supper of local bounty.

The Facts

  • SleepsUp to 6 guests
    From £1,995 per week, £1,495 per short break
  • Alternative group optionsUp to 2 or up to 4 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 with life jackets for the canal
  • PetsTwo well-behaved dogs are welcome
    Each pet is charged at £60 per stay
  • Arrivals and departuresArrival Time: 3pmDeparture Time: 10am
  • 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. There is also a track for emergency vehicle access only up to the house. Please note, the exterior of the property is protected by CCTV. The main kitchen features a Smeg oven and hob, full-size fridge-freezer, microwave, Nespresso coffee machine, and Sage 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. Arrivals will be picked up canal-side by the house manager and taken to the property on the owner´s narrowboat.
  • 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
  • Private cateringSeeking a celebratory dinner or fully catered escape? Our recommended caterers will work with you to create personalised menus for your stay. Details are shared through our house book on confirming your booking.
  • RetreatsFrom foraging weekenders to crash courses in cold-water therapy, our bespoke retreats bridge the gap between luxury and back-to-nature philosophies. Create a hand-crafted stay that puts connectivity at the fore.
  • Eco-friendlyAir source heat pump
  • Other informationProperty terms and conditionsFrequently asked questions

Get in touch

Enquire Book

The kitchen seats six around a chunky wooden table
The interiors offer a curated, globally-inspired palette

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

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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

Being collected by boat to be taken to the property was so much fun and the ideal way to start our holiday. Arriving to a thoughtful hamper was a wonderful surprise too. The property allowed dogs, was the right size for our family, was an ideal distance from London, and looked so beautiful and quirky.

Absolutely beautiful property with great facilities. The kitchen utilities, coffee machines and juicers exceeded our expectations. The availability of both in-house and garden games, kayaks, BBQ, hot tub etc was brilliant and again exceeded expectations.

Loved every minute of our stay. The location by the canal side was beautiful and peaceful and was perfect for an escape from our busy city life!! Thank you for such a wonderful stay.

Cannot fault the property at all, it had absolutely everything you might possibly need. The property was very warm which was needed during winter. Can’t thank the hosts enough, brilliant stay!

The house location is incredible and the house itself is so beautifully done! We just loved all of it. The kayaks were a great addition, and the hot tub was a huge hit! Jason was also wonderful and so so helpful and friendly.

The most relaxing holiday we´ve had in a long time, with beautiful walks starting just outside the front door - our dog had forgotten what a lead was by the end of our week at Little Red Lock!

Jason who collected us was brilliant! Very helpful, answered all questions, helped with all our food/drink/luggage and dog! Showed us property brilliantly. The housekeeper was also amazing, she met us on arrival to assist, she told us where she was over the week and if we needed anything where to find her! She saw us kayaking one day and stopped us along canal ensuring we were enjoying ourselves and our property! Very sweet and genuinely cared that we were alright!

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

From private chefs to luxury at-home spa therapists and adrenalin-fuelled retreats, once you’ve booked your stay we’ll introduce you to our owner-recommended suppliers to create a truly bespoke, memorable 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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