If stone cottages, good ol’ country pubs and picturesque views of rolling hills makes your toes do a little dance, then The Cotswolds is the perfect weekend break for you! Just a short drive from London, it’s a breathtakingly beautiful escape filled with history, wonder, and best of all; peacefulness.
After just two short hours (depending on how London motorists feel like driving that day) from the city, you feel like you’ve taken a time machine back to the Stone Age (literally)! Stretching approximately 25 miles across and 90 miles long, The Cotswolds is located in the south, central countryside of England. Small, stone-built villages are connected by rolling hills and endless seas of green. With evidence of settlements dating back to the Neolithic era, it’s amazing to imagine what these little towns have been through and what the roads have seen. Offering centuries of history, an abundance of natural wildlife, and all the fresh air that you can manage to breathe in, The Cotswolds will certainly leave you feeling relaxed and restored.
Where to stay?
There are a number of gorgeous B&B’s across The Cotswolds and after actually seeing the beauty of the old buildings, I can imagine all of them are beautiful! However, I would highly recommend staying in the Mansion House at Heythrop Park Resort. Not necessarily in the centre of The Cotswolds but certainly driving distance to everything you need to see (btw you can’t be in The Cotswolds without a car!), the hotel is surrounded by 440 acres of glorious, green countryside, gardens, walking trails, and a golf course (much to my partners’ delight)! Be aware though, that there is the Heythrop Park Resort, as well as a Crown Plaza. You MUST request to stay in the Mansion House. It is an extra £50 per night but worth every penny!
The 18th century mansion has 17 rooms that have been decorated and maintained in the traditional style of the building; even the televisions are the size of a microwave! When you walk into the main building, a humungous fireplace houses a crackling fire and the curved staircase is something out of Downtown Abbey. It’s the kind of accommodation you could only find in The Cotswolds, and comes highly recommended by me, myself and I.
Set the alarm because today you’re going on a country road trip!
If you’re feeling up to it and are a sucker for find, homemade foods, journey about an hour and fifteen minutes south and the award-winning Stroud Farmer’s Markets will have you foodie as excited as a kid at Christmas! From freshly baked bread to farm fresh fruit and veg, local meats and homemade cakes, your stomach will be growling for a second breakfast!
After you’ve stuffed your face with a bacon sandwich and sampled everything possible, try not to fall asleep because the next part of the day’s country road trip is one of The Cotswolds most visited tourist attractions! 36 minutes east, Arlington Row is a row of 17th century cottages that use to be home to wool weavers, located in the town of Bibury. The cottages are part of an architectural conservation area and are featured on the inside of UK passports!
Heading back up towards the northern point of The Cotswolds, towns that I would recommend stopping at include Bourton-on-the-Water, Stow-on-the-Wold and maybe even visit Chastleton House and Garden. The 400-year-old house is almost in its original state when constructed between 1607-12. I didn’t get to go to Chastleton House and Gardens but it’s definitely on my to-do list for next time!
You may be totally exhausted and couldn’t think of anything worse than getting back in the car, but you’re only there for the weekend and you need to make the most of it! So spruce up your makeup and have your hubby through on a shirt because The Wheatsheaf Inn in Northleach is worth it, I promise!
A traditional, English coaching inn, The Wheatsheaf is a cosy retreat where country living meets five-star dining. Open fireplaces and large, deep armchairs lure you in, and a dog-friendly policy makes the place feel even more homely and welcoming. What you wouldn’t expect from this little coaching inn is some of the tastiest food that would beat over half the restaurants that I’ve been to in London! A menu of locally-sources, simple and rustic dishes, it’s hard to choose what to have but we went with the Organic Chicken, Mushroom and Tarragon Pie (I’m not a big fan of mushrooms but it was still delicious!), and the 8oz Sirloin Steak with Peppercorn Sauce. Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum!!!! And topped off by the invaluable advice of an in-house sommelier to match a wine with your chosen meal, The Wheatsheaf Inn must be made a priority for travelling foodies!
As I am a firm believer in Sunday’s being reserved for relaxation and replenishing (aka eating), have a sleep in and even use the spa facilities at the hotel! Then we’re back in the car and heading north west towards Broadway.
Before you get into Broadway town, stop off at Broadway Tower for scenic views of The Cotswolds and small talk with friendly sheep! The second highest point of The Cotswolds, Broadway Tower was built in 1798 by George William 6th Earl of Coventry and renowned architect, James Wyatt. The tower is surrounded by rolling hills, a resident herd of red deer and is even home to one of only a few working nuclear bunkers in Britain.
After a stroll in the fields, drive into Broadway town and enjoy the antique stores along the high street as well as the many tea houses. Tisanes Tea Room have an amazing selection of tea and do a delicious gluten free brownie!
Before indulging in a traditional English Sunday Roast, stop by Chipping Campden, a small market town at the top of The Cotswolds. The terraced high street is gorgeous and the picturesque view of the local St James’ Church and its surroundings provide a glimpse of nature in all of her finery!
Now for the grand finale! A long standing tradition in British culture is a Sunday Roast. Just about every pub, inn or restaurant in The Cotswolds will serve a Sunday Roast but we chose The Porch House in Stow-on-the-Wold.
With creaky timber floors, creased brown leather seating and the smell of cooking meat, you know you’re in an English pub. I had Roast Lamb which was to die for that came with all your typical sides; Yorkshire Pudding, potatoes and greens. The sides did let the dish down a bit (the potatoes were a little dry) but the meat was certainly the hero (as it should be), and the low ceilings and dark décor made the room cosy and quaint; the perfect setting for a Sunday Roast.
So there you have it, this weekend in The Cotswolds will be the prettiest and tastiest history lesson of your life!
Thanks for reading! xxx