Cotswold countryside is a cracker. Still the region’s key attraction, its rolling hills and wooded valleys inspire walkers, poets and painters alike – not to mention urban escape artists. Come for 48 hours in the Cotswolds and enjoy a relaxing weekend in the great outdoors or spend a classic week indulging in this seriously foodie and historic corner of England.
History buffs and romantics are drawn to the ancient Cotswold stone villages in honeyed hues from Broadway to Burford and spend their days exploring stately homes such as Snowshill Manor and Chastleton House.
Over the last 15 years, the Cotswolds has flourished as a foodie destination with gastro pubs, fine dining restaurants and farmers markets showcasing the best local fare – whether fresh-cut asparagus, rare-breed meat, artisan cheeses, English wines or craft beer. In parallel, new kinds of places to stay have blossomed from get-away-from-it-all Cotswold Yurts at Westley Farm to tastefully luxurious Barnsley House & Spa, both nestled between the market towns of Cirencester and Stroud.
Selecting a base for your weekend break or longer escape can be tricky – simply because there are so many appealing options. If you’re seeking sophisticated shopping and stylish nightlife as the yin to your yang in this unashamedly wholesome region, then Cheltenham is an excellent place to lay your head. You’ll find luxury hotels aplenty from elegant Malmaison and Hotel du Vin to just-the-right-side-of-hipster, No. 131 alongside a growing number of attractive AirBnB options which bring to life the town’s iconic regency architecture.
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Those looking for the ultimate English village or diminutive market town awash with idyllic cottages – complete with an ancient church and lively little pubs – should look to nearby Northleach or Winchcombe, or take the road to Tetbury, close to Highgrove and its glorious gardens, the Gloucestershire retreat of the Prince of Wales. For organic food and understated refinement, there’s Daylesford Organic with its renowned cookery school, fresh and inspiring restaurant, zen-like spa and effortlessly chic Cotswold cottages.
Walkers who like the simpler things in life often feel at home in the Stroud valleys, swinging by The Weighbridge Inn for a pie and pint or settling down by the open fire at The Woolpack in Slad where author Laurie Lee drank Cider with Rosie.
Nearby Rodborough Common not only harbours views of the seven valleys but is home to Winstones Ices where the same family has been churning those irresistibly local, sweet treats for almost a century.
Wherever you stay, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to sample local flavour at Primrose Vale Farm Shop if you’re self-catering (or gift-shopping), or visiting one of the region’s growing number of festivals. Cheltenham Festivals punctuate the calendar with Jazz (Spring), Science and Music (Summer), and Literature taking place every October, one of the longest-standing literary events in the world. You’ll find a glut of summer gatherings, from village fetes to food festivals and bigger stage events such as family-friendly Nibley Festival and Treefest at Westonbirt Arboretum.
But this is a region for all seasons. It’s ablaze in autumn as leaves change to russet tones – best admired at Westonbirt, Batsford Arboretum, and in the famous red borders at Hidcote Manor Garden. We know how to warm our way through the winter here with bracing walks and festive fare by the fireside. It’s no wonder the Cotswolds provide a favoured spot to spend Christmas and see in the New Year. You’ll find there’s plenty to fall in love with whenever you decide to come.
Visits to the Cotswolds can be enjoyed all year round. Granted, gardens and the great outdoors are at their finest in Spring and Summer while woodland walks come into their own in Autumn as leaves change from emerald to auburn and scarlet tones. However, cosy pubs and elegant hotels with roaring fires know how to make your heart sing even if it’s cold, rainy or even snowy outside.
The Cotswolds is a popular weekend destination for Londoners and you can get a flavour for the region in a couple of days. Plenty of visitors bunker down in their village or countryside hotel and just potter around that little area, with the occasional walk and gourmet meal, to totally unplug. Come for a week or more and you’ll get to experience the diversity of this little corner of England from its sweeping Stroud valleys to the honey-coloured villages around Broadway and Burford with bijoux antique shops and elegant eateries. You could certainly fill a fortnight with some long walks, downtime by the fireside or camping with your kids at Cotswold Farm Park.
The Cotswolds attract visitors all year round. As an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), The Cotswolds countryside offers diverse experiences for nature lovers throughout the seasons. Visits in Summer are arguably most popular, with Spring and Autumn coming a close second. But with its cosy pubs with roaring fires and dramatic landscapes the Cotswolds can be just as enticing in the depths of Winter, especially around Christmas.
England has earned a reputation for changeable weather and while it is more temperature than extreme, rainy days are a possibility whenever you decide to visit. Average temperatures in Summer hover around 18 to 20 degrees centigrade, although they can dip to 10 degrees on cooler days and brush the 30s on the sunniest of occasions.
The Cotswolds sits at the northern tip of the South West region, which is known for warmer temperatures than other parts of the UK. You can also enjoy long hours of sunlight with sunset approaching 10pm in the height of summer. Autumn days in September can see highs of 17 degrees when England often enjoys a so-called Indian Summer. Winters are relatively mild – more often rainy as snow is something of a rarity in this rural slice of England. While Springtime (March-May) can be tempestuous (think April showers) it’s a popular time to visit given the proliferation of spring flowers lighting up the countryside after the darker days of winter.
Local Events include:
Cheltenham Races, most notably Gold Cup which takes place around St Patrick’s Day in mid March.
Cheltenham Festivals, including Cheltenham Literature, Jazz, Music, Science, Cricket, and Food Festivals which punctuate the calendar.
Public Holidays include:
January 1st New Year’s Day
Good Friday and Easter Monday
May 1st or the first Monday in May
May Bank Holiday – last Monday of month
Summer Bank Holiday – last Monday of August
December 25th: Christmas Day
December 26th: Boxing Day
For the latest information consult the UK government website.
The Cotswolds are located in GMT – Greenwich Mean Time.
You can check the local time in The Cotswolds here.
British Summer Time (BST) happens in the Spring (last Sunday in March at 1AM) when clocks are advanced one hour. In the Autumn (last Sunday in October at 1AM), clocks shift back one hour to standard time to give more daylight in the morning.
The Cotswolds is a pretty relaxed place so weekend wear is perfectly fine. With plenty of high-end dining options you might want to bring a few fancier threads to dress up on a special evening out.
Country walks are almost obligatory so wellies or walking shoes are advisable. Don’t forget the sunscreen in summer when you can get caught out even in cooler temperatures.
Rainy days punctuate the calendar so it’s advisable to be ready for the occasional shower – or even a downpour – whatever time of year you visit. Come armed with wet weather gear and intrepid walkers can explore the Cotswold Way from January through to December.
Prices often fluctuate dynamically depending on capacity, seasonality and deals. We don’t want to lead you astray by quoting exact prices that quickly become wrong. To give you a rough idea for budgetary planning purposes, though, we have indicated general price ranges for all points of interest.
Price ranges are quoted in £.
See & Do
N/A => Not applicable
$ => Tickets less than £10 per person
$$ => Tickets £10 – £20 per person
$$$ => Tickets £20 per person
Sleep — Out of town/rural
$ => Rooms less than £45 for a double
$$=> Rooms £45 – £75 for a double
$$$ => Rooms £75 for a double
Sleep — Large Cities
$ => Rooms less than £75 for a double
$$ => Rooms £75 – £110 for a double
$$$ => Rooms £110 for a double
$ => £4 – £8 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$$ => £8 – £20 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$$$ => £20 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
N/A => Not applicable
$ => Tickets less than £20 per person
$$ => £20 – £40 per person
$$$ => £40 per person
It’s customary to tip between 10% and 12.5% – and up to 15% for excellent service – in the UK. Make sure, however, to check your bill for any additions before you settle up. Increasingly restaurants and cafés include a service charge automatically.