The Cotswolds is one of my calm places. Beautifully rural, with rolling hills, stone villages, winter walks and a beer by the roaring fire in a local pub, but with easy accessibility from London. It is also becoming a foodie capital of the country with amazing pubs, restaurants and cafes popping up all over the region.
The Cotswolds straddles five counties, and although the vast proportion of it is within Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, it even goes as far north as south Warwickshire, and touches the edges of Worcestershire and Wiltshire too. There are no cities in The Cotswolds, and not really even large towns meaning it’s laid back way of life isn’t altered by Monday morning rushes or rowdy teens on a night out.
I visited The Cotswolds at the end of January with Theo for his 25th birthday (the big one!) to explore more of what this region has to offer, and enjoy a stay at the stunning Barnsley House Hotel and Spa, just outside of Cirencester. Whether you fancy a good walk, pub lunch, or a pamper at a spa, there is no better place than The Cotswolds.
Barnsley House Hotel and Spa, just outside Cirencester is the ultimate country retreat, home to landscaped gardens, tennis courts, a helipad, holistic spa with hydrotherapy pool, private 30-seat cinema, DVD library, traditional restaurant and 18 stunning bedrooms, ranging in size, bathroom features and style. And the grounds are suitably beautiful, just like the house, with an array of plants, fauna and trees, making you feel a million miles away from the chaos of everyday life.
My bedroom for the night was stunning; a deluxe attic room with gorgeous views of the famous kitchen garden out the back of the property with a spacious lounge area and open plan bedroom with en-suite bathroom, with the most stunning bath tub, and walk-in shower. From the moment we stepped inside our room I felt like I had come home.
Barnsley House also have a The Potager restaurant downstairs, near the bar, and serve food at both lunch time and for dinner in the evening. The menu is small but dishes don’t disappoint, with a range of foods from steak to pasta, and puddings including a cheese board and Chocolate Fondant.
And if you want some pub grub you can even nip across the road to the pub, also owned by the hotel, ironically called ‘The Village Pub’. Think open fires, papers, pints and delicious food!
Or if you are heading out into the region, and need somewhere to stop at, the Eight Bells (eightbellsinn.co.uk) in Chipping Campden is great for lunch. Or if you are on the go why not stop by at Eat Wild (eatwild.co.uk) and grab one of their famous burgers.
There is lots to do in The Cotwolds including exploring some of the 100-mile Cotswold Way, which starts at Chipping Campden or go off piste and take a stroll around one of the many trails around the region.
If you fancy visiting a historic house, Blenheim Palace. You should stop here as it is one of the great house-and-garden complexes in the whole of England.
For family fun, head to Cotswold Farm Park and get dirty with rare breeds at this muddy and surprisingly authentic glimpse of life on the farm.
Get out the credit card and go wild at Swindon Outlet Village, where you can get a bargain or two in one of the many discount stores, it even has a John Lewis Outlet store.
Visit the pretty little town of Cirencester, an affluent and picturesque market town often known as the ‘Capital of the Cotswolds’. It lies at the crossroads of three Roman roads, which gives a clue to its importance during Roman times. There are lots of gorgeous shops, cafes and places to explore here.
Or really go all ‘Cotswolds’ and take a visit to the small town of Stow-on-the-Wold. The Market Square and the Green complete with 19th century village stocks, give this beautiful Cotswold town it’s wide open appearance. Despite this, you will find many alleyways and passages leading onto the Square and all worthy of further investigation!