BOUTIQUE HOTELS IN THE COTSWOLDS
The Cotswolds is best known for its characterful, honey-hued limestone villages in a beautiful rural setting. Before heading out to explore, check into one of Chic Retreats recommended boutique hotels in the Cotswolds such as Dormy House
, a stunning new 40-room luxury hotel with elegant interiors by Todhunter Earle, a state-of-the-art spa and two dining rooms (choose from fine dining in the Garden Room and comforting classics in The Potting Shed). Spa junkies should also consider the more contemporary boutique hotel choice Cowley Manor
: book in for their signature Cloud 9 treatment, a sublime combination of a holistic massage with aromatherapy, reflexology and acupressure. Or, if you’d like a modern take on a traditional coaching inn, why not head over to the Old Swan & Minster Mill
, the river setting is lovely during the summer time when you can enjoy a game of croquet.
Start your trip to the Cotswolds by looking round the market towns of Moreton in Marsh (a market is held here every Tuesday), Chipping Norton (don’t miss Station Mill Antiques Centre which has 80 dealers under one roof) and Stow-on-the-Wold. Then, it’s an easy four mile drive to Bourton-on-the-water, which straddles the river Windrush and has been called the ‘Little Venice’ of the Cotswolds because of its bridges. Other towns worth checking out include Chipping Campden and Burford, the southern gateway to the Cotswolds, which has a sloping high street full of independent shops, old world pubs and tea rooms.
Days out in the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds also boasts a handful of glorious gardens such as the National Trust-owned Hidcote Manor gardens, Kiftsgate Court, which is renowned for the Kiftsgate climbing rose and Westbury Court garden, an example of a formal early Dutch water garden. There’s also Sudeley Castle, which has stunning gardens, exhibitions in the east and west wings of the castle, medieval ruins and an adventure playground. If you’re travelling with children, a day out at The Cotswold Wildlife Park should be top of your list while adults will want to head for Daylesford Organic in Kingham, the award-winning farm shop and cafe owned by Lady Bamford. Produce is picked fresh from the market garden daily and you can tuck into venison and cranberry pie or burgers for lunch.
If you’re a keen cook, you can book onto a day course on everything from artisan bread making to lessons in how to master the perfect pudding and butchery. Another excellent cooking school in the Cotswolds is Thyme at Southrop Manor, which is run by chef Daryll Taylor and the brilliant Marj Lang. Courses range from foraging to world food and even parent and child classes where you can work together to whip up a delicious lunch. If you’re still hungry at dinner, book a table at perhaps one of the most famous pubs in the Cotswolds, The Swan at Southrop (thanks to sometime local resident Kate Moss). You’ll find roaring fires in the winter, a traditional skittles alley and dishes such as beef Bourguignon or baked Cornish mackerel fillet on the menu.