Stretching across the counties of Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire, Worcestershire, Oxfordshire and Somerset, the Cotswolds are the perfect choice for a weekend break in the UK. Hiding between lush, rolling hills are creamy-stone villages full of fabulous antiques stores, cheese shops and tantalizing pubs where to stop for a cup of tea or a warm slice of pie.
Our journey starts in Cheltenham, also known as the ‘gateway to the Cotswolds’. Cheltenham is a stunning regency town, full of gorgeous theatres, wonderful museums. We’d suggest starting with a walk down Montpellier to buy those last minute ‘cotswolds attire’ outfits. Dotted by lovely cottages and surrounding lush green area, Cheltenham has some lovely boutiques. Vinegar Hill is one of our favourites, as it offers the perfect mix of classic home goods and typical British-style knick-knacks.
After stopping in Cheltenham, jump in the car and drive out of the town until you get to the top of the Cotswold Hills, you will get the most amazing views of the surrounding area. There’s a great walk that’ll take you up to Broadway tower, an iconic landmark on top of the beautiful Cotswolds escarpment. Broadway Tower stands on Beacon Hill, the second highest point in the Cotswolds. Lucky ones, will find the tower open for exhibits and encounter beautiful red deer around the establishment!
Check in at Barnsley House, and have a light lunch (all the produce is handpicked from the garden!). Barnsley House is the quintessential fairytale country house retreat, with a marvelous spa, hidden away and enveloped in the gardens – it is heavenly – the perfect place to help you recharge. Explore around the grounds and the garden to inspire creativity and take in the beauty of your surroundings. You must have afternoon tea in the garden. We just love sitting with an endless pot of tea, enjoying a buttery scone with jam and drawing the gardens.
Drive through the backroads to Stowe-on-the-Wold. You will see so many pretty towns on your way. Getting lost in all the small towns twisting roads is part of the fun. Stowe-on-the-Wold is a very pretty old market town, with immense character, known for its frequent fairs, including the wool fair. Its high street full of independent shops selling various curiosities, and it is famous for its amazing antique shops. There is a Farmers Market held in The Square on 2nd Thursday of each month, 9am to 1pm. Stop by for a a coffee at The New England Coffee House: The Mahencha cake is a must tryf! St Edward’s Church is also very well worth a visit, this medieval church is known to many because of its magical doors: bound by two ancient yew trees, one of its entrance doors looks more like a portal to a fairy realm than a church entrance.
Carry on your drive to Daylesford, near Kingham. This is the farm shop to end all farm shops, an organic farm whose ethos is based all around sustainability. You can also find Daylesford shops around London, in Marylebone and Notting Hill. The farm is great as it surrounded by clover-rich pastures where their organic animals roam freely. Fresh vegetables, fruit and herbs are picked each morning from the Market Garden, which is just steps away from our award-winning farm shop & café, kitchens, Bakery and Creamery. Beyond the farm shop, you will find the Bamford Barn, Wellness Spa, Workshop, Cookery School and of course several options for indoor and outdoor dining and drinking throughout the day and into the evenings.
You can go for a walk around the farm and there are some nice easy walks around the Bamford estate. Once you have built up your appetite, you can choose to eat in one of the three amazing restaurants at the farm shop. The Orchard salad is delicious, and you can rest in the knowledge that everything you are consuming is totally organic and from the land around you.
Stay the night at the Wild Rabbit, this is the nearby modern British inn that is also owned by the Bamford dynasty. The rooms are super cosy, and the pies are exceptional. This pub reminds us of the pub in the Holiday where Jude Law and Cameron Diaz share ‘that look’ across the crowded pub. Make sure you try all the local brews on tap, they are all amazingly delicious.
In the summer the amazing Gifford Circus tour the village greens of the Cotswolds. If you are visiting in the summer you must make an evening of this. Gifford Circus is the brainchild of Nell and Toti Gifford, and considered to be the hottest ticket in the country. Gypsy violinists, tap dancers, tight-rope walkers, trapeze artistes, stunt riders, opera singers, magicians, illusionists, gymnasts – all have inhabited Giffords Circus and have created the dynamic energy that draws in the public each summer. Everyone loves to attend: from Stella McCartney, to Helena Bonham Carter, Lily Allen, Jennifer Saunders, the Bamfords! After you have been totally entranced by the performance, eat with the performers at Circus Sauce, the travelling restaurant. Eating rustically extravagant local food, off Emma Bridgewater’s plates (she is a sister of the Giffords) you will want to run away with the circus, trust us.
On your last day, we suggest starting the day by taking a lovely walk in the Woodchester Mansion Circular Walk. If you are a fan of The Crown, this is a must-see location. The walk is part of a lovely circuit, that can end with refreshments at the Rose and Crown pub in Nympsfield. Prince Charles’ Highgrove estate is not far from here, in the beautiful town of Tetbury. There are often open days, and the gardens full of flowers and plants are definitely worth seeing.
End your Cotswold experience at Cowley Manor. This is one of our favorite places to stay in the world. Have afternoon tea in the cozy living room next to a stunning open fire, then before you know it afternoon tea turns into cocktails (of which the hotel regularly updates a tantalizing selection). The hotel has an impressive collection of board games. The following morning book yourself into the C-side spa and relax. They use Spring & Green products which are divine. Make sure you stock up on these as they are hard to come by!