The Cotswolds is a magical place. And only two hours from London, it’s hard to remember the hustle and bustle of the city, when you’ve entered the peaceful villages of The Cotswolds.
The Cotswolds is one of my calm places and there’s nothing more I enjoy than a weekend Cotswolds adventure.
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. Whether you fancy a good walk, pub lunch, or a pamper at a spa, there is no better place than The Cotswolds.
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.
I have visited The Cotswolds so many times over the years and I always fall further in love with this beautiful region in the UK. Whether you fancy a good walk, pub lunch, or a pamper at a spa, there is no better place than a weekend Cotswolds. Here is my guide to spending the weekend in The Cotswolds…
READ MORE: Packing Guide for The Cotswolds
Top 12 Places to go in The Cotswolds
- Daylesford Farm
- Chipping Campden
- Lower Slaughter
- Blenheim Palace
- Snowshill Manor
Where is The Cotswolds?
Covering an impressive 800 square miles, an ultimate guide to the Cotswolds would be 100’s of thousands of words long due to the number of things there is to do in The Cotswolds. The Cotswolds also cover fives counties including Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire.
It is called the Cotswolds due to the rolling hills found all across the region and is widely known for being traditionally British, with farmhouses, hiking trails ad beautiful cottages. It is also an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Keep reading for my ultimate Cotswolds weekend itinerary!
The Cotswolds Map
A weekend in The Cotswolds
When to visit The Cotswolds
Every season has intrinsic appeal. Crowd-free winters are ideal for bracing walks, fireside pub sessions – and lower hotel prices. Come in spring to see lambs and wild daffodils. Visit in summer (inevitably with many others) for magical light, particularly in the long evenings. Summer is the perfect time for a weekend Cotswolds adventure.
Or make an autumn excursion for a quieter atmosphere and wonderful leaf colour, especially at the two great arboreta, Westonbirt and Batsford.
Where to stay in The Cotswolds
There are so many amazing places to stay in The Cotswolds, too many to even list here infect. But I have pulled together some of my favourites below, and there are also some dog-friendly hotels in The Cotswolds too.
After a manic September, I headed down to The Cotswolds for a weekend break with my mum and Arabella. We opted to stay at the De Vere Cotswold Water Park for our stay in this iconic region, as it was well situated from the main honey-coloured villages and towns The Cotswolds has to offer, including Bibury, Bourton-on-the-Water and Stow-on-the-Wold.
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, a 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 bathtub, and walk-in shower. From the moment we stepped inside our room I felt like I had come home.
I’ve stayed at a lot of hotels over the years, but something about the Old Swan & Minster Mill has stuck with me. It made me feel all warm inside, like I had arrived back at home, and for that, I will keep this review brief.. as I believe that says it all. Romantically set in 65 acres of woodland and orchards, The Old Swan & Minster Mill is over 600 years old and located only 14 miles from Oxford. The perfect place for a weekend Cotswolds adventure.
Other accommodation options
- Cotswolds Hotels and Places to Stay
- Whatley Manor Hotel & Spa
- Tewkesbury Park
- White Hart Royal Hotel
- The Slaughters Country Inn
- The George Townhouse
- The Lygon Arms
- Lords of the Manor Hotel
- Three Ways House Hotel
- The Fish Hotel
Keep reading for my ultimate Cotswolds weekend itinerary!
READ MORE: A Stay at Calcot Manor, The Cotswolds
A weekend in The Cotswolds
Where to eat in The Cotswolds
- The Potager
- The Village Pub
- The Old Boathouse
- Eight Bells
- The Cotswold Tearoom
- Wild Thyme Restaurant
- 5 North St
- Le Champignon Sauvage
- Flynn’s Restaurant
- Grill 49
- The Suffolk Kitchen
- The Daffodil
- 288 Bar & Wok
- Kindness & Co, Vinnie’s Eatery
- The Cotswold Plough Hotel & Restaurant
- The Feathered Nest Country Inn
Barnsley House also has a The Potager restaurant downstairs, near the bar, and serve food at both lunchtimes 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 cheese board and Chocolate Fondant.
The Village Pub
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!
The Old Boathouse
There is also The Old Boathouse at South Cerney. At The Old Boathouse Restaurant & Bar, you can enjoy dining and drinking with views of the Water Park from the lakeside tables and outside decking. The menus are changed seasonally, and we really enjoyed dining here. The GM was really helpful, and the food was exactly what we needed – wholesome but tasty!
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.
FOR RELATED CONTENT: A Guide to The Cotswolds
Cotswolds Weekend Itinerary
What to do in The Cotswolds
There are lots to do in The Cotswolds 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. The perfect place for a weekend Cotswolds adventure.
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!
Stow-on-the-Wold is a market town and civil parish in Gloucestershire, England, on top an 800-foot (244 m) hill at the junction of main roads through the Cotswolds, including the Fosse Way (A429), which is of Roman origin. The town was founded by Norman lords to take advantage of trade on the roads converging there. Fairs have been held by royal charter since 1330; an annual horse fair is still held on the edge of the town.
Moreton-in-Marsh is a small market town in the Evenlode Valley, within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The town stands at the crossroads of the Fosse Way Roman road and is relatively flat and low-lying compared with the surrounding Cotswold Hills. The River Evenlode rises near Batsford, runs around the edge of Moreton and meanders towards Oxford, where it flows into the Thames just east of Eynsham.
One of the most popular places in The Cotswolds, Bourton-on-the-Water is a village in Gloucestershire that lies on a wide flat vale within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and much of the village core is a designated Conservation Area. Bourton-on-the-Water’s high street is flanked by long wide greens and the River Windrush that runs through them. The river is crossed by five low, arched stone bridges. They were built between 1654 and 1953, leading to the namesake of the village also being known as the “Venice of the Cotswolds”.
Daylesford is a small, privately-owned village in Gloucestershire, on the border with Oxfordshire. It is situated just south of Stow-on-the-Wold and five miles west of Chipping Norton. The village is on the north bank of the small River Evenlode and the area falls within the Cotswold Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. At Daylesford House, you can find lakeside gardens with wooded walks and unusual trees and shrubs are occasionally open to the public in the summer months. There is a farm shop on the estate, which sells organic food under the Daylesford Organic brand.
Chipping Campden is a small market town in the Cotswold district of Gloucestershire, England. It is notable for its elegant terraced High Street, dating from the 14th century to the 17th century. A rich wool trading centre in the Middle Ages, Chipping Campden enjoyed the patronage of wealthy wool merchants, most notably William Greville. Today it is a popular Cotswold tourist destination with old inns, hotels, specialist shops and restaurants.
The High Street is lined with honey-coloured limestone buildings, built from the mellow locally quarried oolitic limestone known as Cotswold stone, and boasts a wealth of fine vernacular architecture. Much of the town centre is a Conservation Area which has helped to preserve the original buildings. The town is the endpoint of the Cotswold Way, a 102-mile long-distance footpath.
Lower Slaughter is a village in the Cotswolds, south-west of Stow-on-the-Wold. The village is built on both banks of the River Eye, a slow-moving stream crossed by two footbridges, which also flows through Upper Slaughter.
At the west end of the village, there is a 19th-century watermill with an undershot waterwheel and a chimney for additional steam power. While the mill is built of red brick most of the 16th and 17th-century homes in the village use Cotswold limestone and are adorned with mullioned windows and often with other embellishments such as projecting gables.
Cheltenham is a large spa town and borough on the edge of the Cotswolds in the county of Gloucestershire, England. Cheltenham became known as a health and holiday spa town resort following the discovery of mineral springs in 1716.
The town hosts several festivals of culture, often featuring nationally and internationally famous contributors and attendees, including the Cheltenham Literature Festival, the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, the Cheltenham Science Festival, the Cheltenham Music Festival, the Cheltenham Cricket Festival, and the Cheltenham Food & Drink Festival.
Tewkesbury is a market town and civil parish in Gloucestershire. It stands at the confluence of the River Severn and the River Avon, and also minor tributaries the Swilgate and Carrant Brook. n February Tewkesbury holds a Winter Beer Festival, organised by the Tewkesbury branch of CAMRA. And since 2005, an annual Food and Drink Festival has been held, in or near the Abbey grounds. And if you love history, on the second full weekend of July the town hosts Tewkesbury Medieval Festival.
Gloucester is a cathedral city, on the River Severn, between the Cotswolds to the east and the Forest of Dean to the west. Gloucester has a population of around 150,000 and the major attraction of the city is Gloucester Cathedral, which is the burial place of King Edward II and Walter de Lacy, and features in scenes from the Harry Potter films.
Other features of interest include the museum and school of art and science, the former county jail, the Shire Hall (now headquarters of the County Council) and the Whitefield memorial church.
Painswick is a town in Gloucestershire and is best known for its parish church’s yew trees and the local Rococo Garden. The village is mainly constructed of locally quarried Cotswold stone. The village is beautiful and stands on a hill overlooking one of the Five Valleys, between Stroud and Gloucester.
It has narrow streets and traditional architecture, and a beautiful hotel called The Painswick. There is a popular golf course on the outskirts of the town, and Painswick Beacon is in the nearby hills.
Stroud is a market town and civil parish in the centre of Gloucestershire, England. Situated below the western escarpment of the Cotswold Hills at the meeting point of the Five Valleys, the town is noted for its steep streets, independent spirit and cafe culture.
The Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty surrounds the town, and the Cotswold Way path passes by it to the west. It lies 10 miles south of the city of Gloucester, and only 91 miles from London.
Tetbury is a town and civil parish inside the Cotswold district in England. It lies on the site of an ancient hill fort, on which an Anglo-Saxon monastery was founded, probably by Ine of Wessex, in 681. During the Middle Ages, Tetbury became an important market for Cotswold wool and yarn.
The Tetbury Woolsack Races, founded 1972, is an annual competition where participants must carry a 60-pound sack of wool up and down Gumstool Hill. Notable buildings in the town include the Church House, Market House, built-in 1655 and the late-eighteenth century Gothic revival parish church of St Mary the Virgin and St Mary Magdalene and much of the rest of the town centre.
Burford is a small medieval town on the River Windrush, in the Cotswold hills, often referred to as the ‘gateway’ to the Cotswolds. Burford is located 18 miles west of Oxford and is a popular place to visit and live. In September 2001 Burford was twinned with Potenza Picena, a small town in the Marche, on the Adriatic coast of Italy.
And in April 2009 Burford was ranked sixth in Forbes magazine’s list of “Europe’s Most Idyllic Places To Live”.
Cirencester is a market town in Gloucestershire, 80 miles west of London. Cirencester lies on the River Churn, a tributary of the River Thames, and is the largest town in the Cotswolds. It is the home of the Royal Agricultural University, the oldest agricultural college in the English-speaking world, founded in 1840. The town’s Corinium Museum has an extensive Roman collection.
Did you enjoy my ultimate Cotswolds weekend itinerary?! Let me know in the comments where you are going to spend your weekend in the Cotswolds.
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