You’re pretty much guaranteed to recharge your batteries when you come to the Cotswolds for the weekend. Choose your town, village or rural retreat depending on how much you want to unplug.
If elegant Regency architecture, fine dining and plenty of high-end shopping are your thing, opt to stay in or around Cheltenham. Stroll down the leafy Promenade and sip cocktails in one of Montpellier’s desirable hotels.
The bijou market town of Winchcombe is just 20 minutes drive away. Take in classic Cotswold stone cottages, sample award-winning cream teas at Juri’s Tea Room and visit grand Sudeley Castle. The Castle complete with a mind-boggling maze was the erstwhile home to Henry VIII’s sixth and final wife, Catherine Parr.
To really get away from it all, consider a stay at Cotswold Yurts, tucked inside a leafy valley between Cirencester and Stroud. Each is complete with a wood-burning stove, a pretty outdoor kitchen and surrounded by wooded walks. Of course, you can spend two days just listening to birdsong if you like.
Buy amazing local produce from multi award-winning Stroud Farmer’s Market a few miles away to cook for yourself or take a walk to the rather lovely Crown at Frampton Mansell for local craft ales and excellent, hearty fare.
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If you’re looking for more luxury, book in at Barnsley House & Spa, also within easy reach of Cirencester where you can browse boutiques and antique shops, and take home a taste contemporary culture from the New Brewery Arts Centre.
For a love affair with honey-coloured Cotswold villages, Broadway is an unbeatable base with arts and culture aplenty in the surrounding area. Sleep at the grand Lygon Arms, which is experiencing a bit of a renaissance after recent charges in management, or at the reliably relaxing Broadway Hotel, part of the excellent Cotswolds Inns & Hotels.
For real local pub flavour, with unpretentious eats and local craft ales, there’s The Crown & Trumpet providing the perfect reward for long, hilly walks.
Add to the romance from June to August with a visit to Cotswold Lavender. Stroll along scented rows of violet blooms made all the more intense against the backdrop of cornfields. There’s a decent tea room and tempting shop to carry this soothing scent back home with you in lotions and potions distilled on site at this family-run floral farm.
Cap off your visit with cultural encounters at Snowshill Manor & Gardens, erstwhile home to traveller and compulsive collector, Charles Wade. Peruse his eclectic assortment of Samurai masks and an array of curiosities from around the globe. Next, relax in the Manor’s exquisite Cotswold garden or classic National Trust tea room stocked with local goodies.
Culture vultures and history lovers also opt to lay their head in nearby Chipping Campden, close to the borders of Worcestershire and Warwickshire. In addition, it’s in easy reach of a detour to Stratford-Upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace. Chipping Campden is synonymous with British craftsmanship and is still home to the late Robert Welch‘s iconic cutlery designs, a family-run business on the market town that finds its heritage in the Campden School of Arts & Craft.
Don’t miss the Court Barn Museum to discover more about Chipping Campden’s place in the revival of British Design. At the same time catch a new exhibition or expert talk. Garden lovers choose to stay in Chipping Campden given its close proximity to Hidcote Gardens conjured up by American botanist, Lawrence Johnston. Above all, its renowned garden rooms and red borders tamed this exposed stretch of north Cotswolds escarpment.
A little way down the lane, there’s privately-owned Kiftsgate Gardens. By and large, a wilder, more naturalistic creation by three generations of fiercely independent women gardeners. South of Chipping Campden, you’ll find Batsford Arboretum, for tree-lovers and families with children and four-legged friends who like to roam. Moreover, there’s plenty to fill a weekend or spill over into a longer visit.