A luxury guide to the Cotswolds
Burford cottages. Image: Getty
Spanning six of England’s prettiest counties, the Cotswolds has long been one of the UK’s most visited regions. It’s not hard to see why: few places in the world unite rural tranquillity with refined living as well as this unique part of the country. With green rolling hills, clusters of honey-hued villages, sumptuous hotels and more tea rooms than you could possibly desire, there’s something for everyone here. Here’s your luxury guide to the Cotswolds.
WHERE TO STAY
Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa, Chippenham
For unadulterated opulence, check in at Lucknam Park. Sprawled at the end of a mile-long tree-lined avenue, this ivy-clad Palladian mansion is the epitome of Cotswolds glamour. Dating back to 1720, the hotel features lavish, traditionally styled rooms with panelled walls, ornate fireplaces, oil paintings and tasselled curtains. The 42 bedrooms and suites are individually designed, and most have four-poster beds and pristine marble bathrooms. Things take a more modern turn in the hotel spa, which includes a 20-metre-long indoor pool, an indoor/outdoor hydrotherapy pool, plus a sauna, steam room, salt room and amethyst room. Pamper yourself with a treatment – the ESPA Strength & Resilience Massage is an indulgent treat. The food here is equally impressive: dine on gourmet cuisine in the Michelin-starred restaurant Hywel Jones, or head to The Brasserie for something more informal.
Oak House No.1, Tetbury
For a more intimate experience visit Oak House No.1, a boutique B&B in the heart of Tetbury. This grand Georgian house might look like a quintessential Cotswolds home, but inside things take an unexpected turn. Merging bold style with classic country charm, the entire property is a work of art; the midnight-blue sitting-room teems with unique paintings and intricate antiques, and twinkling chandeliers and beautiful vases adorn the red and green dining-room. Upstairs, the Cavalier Suite is the grandest of the three guest rooms: there’s an enormous bedroom with a four-poster bed, a cosy library packed with vintage books, and a sleek bathroom with a walk-in shower and bathtub with a built-in TV. In the morning you can dither over a mouthwatering array of pastries, jams, juices and fruit, then enjoy a hot breakfast cooked to order.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
The Conservatory at Calcot, Tetbury
Known to be one of the Cotswolds’ best hotels, Calcot Manor’s prestige comes, in part, from its two restaurants, The Conservatory and the pub-style Gumstool Inn. Both are excellent, but if you’re looking for luxury you’ll want to visit the former. With its contemporary design and magnificent views of the surrounding gardens, The Conservatory serves up seasonal food made with local Cotswold produce. The service is impeccable and the smiling staff extremely knowledgeable – whether you want to know which wine to order or where the herbs were picked, someone’s on hand to help. Choose from dishes including sea-reared trout with beetroot, orange and horseradish, or salt-baked celeriac with slow-cooked duck egg and truffle emulsion; plus, save room for desserts such as coconut and lime panna cotta with mango and passionfruit salsa.
The Wild Rabbit, Kingham
As part of the Daylesford estate – one of the most sustainable organic farms in the UK – it should come as no surprise that The Wild Rabbit’s menu is packed with freshly foraged ingredients from its gardens. The restaurant’s reputation precedes it – it’s usually packed, but you can sit at the bar if you’re waiting for a table and sip an artisan beer, or a glass of wine from an independent vineyard. The award-winning chefs create an ever-changing menu of dishes such as stone bass with courgette, caviar, lemongrass and mushrooms, or parsley gnocchi with buttered turnip, truffle butter and Daylesford greens, followed by peach melba with raspberries, white chocolate and tofu, or salted caramel with peanut butter and caramelised puff pastry.
WHAT TO DO
While the Cotswolds isn’t short of beautiful villages, Burford is among its most famous, thanks to its sweeping high street lined with ancient cottages featuring leaning gables and mullioned windows, as well as tea rooms and pubs, antique shops, galleries and stylish boutiques (Slate Clothing and Maggie White are two of the best). The Burford Garden Company is a delight, selling everything from climbing rose plants and scented candles to appliqué cushions and sets of silver cheese knives. Be sure to visit the famous Burford Sweet Shop, which has jars upon jars of old-fashioned treats like humbugs and sugar mice.
Explore Westonbirt Arboretum
Most people visit the Cotswolds to enjoy some rural respite, and as Britain’s national arboretum, the 600-acre Westonbirt is the perfect place to take a stroll. With more than 16,000 trees and 17 miles of trails, you could spend all day here and only glimpse part of what this park has to offer. Unlike other arboretums, which are laid out in a botanical order, Westonbirt is arranged aesthetically, with the new addition of a 300-metre Treetop Walkway, which ascends gradually to a height of 13 metres. The next few months are best to visit; when the leaves turn red and gold the arboretum burns with colour.
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