For our final staycation of the summer, Sam and I decided to spend three nights in The Cotswolds. It is full of beautiful scenery, pretty villages, vibrant towns, country walks and plenty to do, so it was an easy sell for us. We love busy itineraries and down-time in equal measure and this trip had the perfect mix of both.
We drove up on Friday afternoon, just before the Bank Holiday weekend. The roads were busy but a stop at my favourite Gloucester Services kept us going until we arrived at our accommodation, Stow Lodge Hotel.
Situated in its own picturesque grounds, the hotel had an old-fashioned charm to it. But that’s why we liked it! The menu was brilliant too – varied and lots of choice. In fact, we decided to stay for our evening meal before wandering around the quintessential town of Stow before it got dark.
Stow is my favourite place in The Cotswolds by far. With mellow stone houses, eclectic shops, chic bistros and cosy tea rooms, it makes an idyllic destination for couples and small groups alike. Rural and elegant are not usually words I’d associate together but that combination sums up Stow perfectly.
Our morning started by running a 5k around Stow at 7am. It was a peaceful way to start the day and another opportunity to explore our surroundings. After an impressive breakfast at the hotel, we ventured into town again, browsed the quirky little shops (go to Sister Sister Collective for the most beautiful accessories!) and sampled a raspberry eclair at Huffkins Tea Rooms. Please do not visit Stow and not try one.
Sweet tooth’s satisfied, we then drove to Chipping Norton and paid a visit to Jeremy Clarkson’s Diddly Squat Farm Shop. As expected, it was hugely popular and the queue to the farm shop itself was massive! We didn’t stay long but it was fun to visit and get a glimpse of Clarkson’s Farm.
Next, we headed to Daylesford Organic, which was quite simply, my version of heaven on earth. It is the mother of all farm shops with fresh produce, homeware and several places for indoor and outdoor dining. There’s even a wellness spa and cookery school, which I would LOVE to visit another time. Nevertheless, we had a matcha pitstop at the spa café and a bite to eat at The Old Spot Restaurant before driving to village of Lower Slaughter.
In the evening, we dined at The Porch House, which is said to be England’s oldest Inn with parts of the building dating back to the year 947. It is now a beautifully-restored Grade II-listed pub with rustic stone walls, roaring open fires and a great menu. To finish a lovely night, we strolled to The Cellar for locally-made cheese, artisan bread and coffee. A wonderful evening!
Sunday morning was a similar affair to Saturday. A 5k run in nearby countryside, followed by a hearty breakfast at the hotel. Sam couldn’t resist nipping to Huffkins again for another raspberry éclair, good (or bad?) thing it was only a 2-minute walk from the room!
Then we drove to Bourton-on-the-Water for the day, a popular village with a gentle flowing river running through the centre. I’d heard a lot of things about Bourton but in my opinion, there are much nicer villages. It was too touristy, too crowded and too busy for me. But maybe we should give it another chance during an off-peak time.
However, The Model Village might be worth going to for something a bit different! It is the only grade II listed model village in the country and a one-ninth scale model of the actual village of Bourton. Cute!
After walking through the main village and finding quieter paths for respite, we stopped for a pizza at L’Anatra Italian Kitchen at The Chester House Hotel. The restaurant was full but the manager kindly let us eat in the bar area, much too our relief. The queues everywhere else were crazy!
There are other attractions too and plenty of fun for kids but as I said, there are other villages I’d rather go to such as Stow and Chipping Norton. However, I got to meet loads of dogs including Stanley the beagle. He had cysts on his poor paws so his owners had to transport him in style!
By late-afternoon, we were ready to go back to our beloved Stow and pick up supper from The Cotswold Cheese Company.
Before travelling back to Swansea, we through the pretty village of Kingham and called into The Wild Rabbit for a drink or two. It was easily the nicest pub I’ve been to, filled with light, big leather armchairs and open fires. A comfortable and relaxing setting with character and style at the helm. We hope to call in again soon and perhaps stay the night!
For me, The Cotswolds was just how I imagined it to be. Scenic, tranquil (ignoring Bourton) and exactly what I wanted. Sam and I both agreed that it’s not the type of place to go if you’re looking for a lively, party atmosphere. But for active, outdoorsy folk like us who appreciate good food and even better views, pack your straw hat and escape to the country.